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Controlling Blood Glucose (Sugar) in the Hospital Makes a Difference 

You may be wondering why your blood glucose is being tested so often, especially if you don’t have diabetes. While it might seem confusing, it can be an important part of helping you get better. 

Many patients have higher blood glucose when they’re in the hospital. A rise in blood glucose levels is one of the body’s natural responses to injury, medication, stress and surgery. Studies have shown that keeping it under control may help prevent infection and other problems, helping you feel better and go home sooner. 

Why is my blood glucose level being tested? 

Keeping your blood glucose below a certain level may help your body fight infection and recover faster. Testing your blood glucose helps your healthcare team keep it under control. 

Why do I have high blood glucose if I don’t have diabetes? 

There can be a lot of reasons, but it is normal for patients to have elevated blood glucose in the hospital, even if they don’t have diabetes. A higher blood glucose level is one of the normal ways your body responds to injury, certain medications, stress, severe illness or surgery. 

Why is it important to control blood glucose? 

Several studies have shown that carefully controlling blood sugar levels can help certain patients in intensive care get better faster. In general, patients in the studies did not develop as many other problems when their blood glucose was controlled. Many had fewer infections and went home sooner. 

How will my blood glucose be controlled?

Your healthcare team may need to test it regularly. This is usually done with a simple fingerstick to get a small drop of blood. When your level is too high, you will probably receive a small dose of insulin. This is the same way your body normally controls your blood glucose level. The insulin can be given to you by a shot or added to your intravenous (IV) drip. 

It is also important to be sure you blood glucose does not drop too low. Your healthcare team will make sure you have the right mix of medication and food to keep your blood glucose in control. 

If I receive insulin, does this mean I have diabetes? 

Not necessarily. High blood glucose in a hospital setting for someone without diabetes can be temporary and will return to normal after they recover. 

If I am oral diabetes medication at home and insulin in the hospital, will I need to go home on insulin? 

If your diabetes is well controlled at home, your healthcare team will send you home on the same home medications you have been using.