How Stress is related to Diabetes


Having diabetes to manage on top of life’s normal ups and downs can itself be a cause of stress. It’s not always easy to live with and this can also feel harder when many people don’t understand it. You can’t avoid stressful situations but there are things you can do to make it easier to cope. This will help stop stress building up and affecting your emotional health.

Find out what stress is, how it affects diabetes and what you can do to change things. We’re here to help. During periods of stress, the body releases so-called hormones, which cause a rise in blood glucose level. In the short term, this gives the body the extra energy it needs to cope with it. But if a person doesn’t have adequate insulin circulating in his bloodstream to enable his cells to use the extra energy, the result will be hyperglycemia. And if stress becomes chronic, hyperglycemia can also become chronic. Stress hormones may be released during physical, mental, and emotional stresses.

Physical stress

Injury, illness, infection and surgery are some examples of physical stresses that often cause hyperglycemia. In fact, hyperglycemia may be a clue that an otherwise symptomless infection is present. Resolving hyperglycemia caused by physical impacts generally involves both treating the underlying cause and treating the hyperglycemia itself with changes to the usual diabetes treatment regimen.

Because everyone can expect to be ill at some point, people with diabetes are encouraged to work out a sick-day plan in advance with their diabetes care team. Your sick-day plan should have specifics on what to eat and drink when you’re sick, over-the-counter products that are safe to use, as well as details on taking your usual medicines and adding supplemental insulin if needed. It should also indicate when to call your healthcare provider.

Mental and emotional stresses

Psychological stresses such as difficulties with relationships, job pressures, financial strain and even concerns about self-worth can contribute to hyperglycemia. If these issues become overwhelming, decreased attention to the diabetes treatment plan may also contribute to hyperglycemia. Learning stress-reduction techniques may help over the long term, and your diabetes care team may be able to help you identify other resources that can help you deal with feelings of overwhelming stress.

Stress alone doesn’t cause diabetes. But there is some evidence that there may be a link between stress and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers think that high levels of stress hormones might stop insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from working properly and reduce the amount of insulin they make. In turn, this might contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

At times of stress, it’s even more important to remember to look after yourself and treat yourself kindly. But we know it’s not always as easy as that. If you’re extra busy at work or looking after family then forgetting to eat or take medication can happen.

It’s important to get a balance between looking after yourself without putting too much pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly. This can add or lead to stress. But it’s good to be aware of how easy it can be to give into the habit of letting diabetes self-care slip in times of stress. Getting enough sleep and building exercise,

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