High Blood Sugar Levels After Surgery

How Diabetes and Blood Glucose Levels Can Affect Your Surgery Outcome

doctor talking to patient, surgeon talking to patient
Talk to Your Doctor About Your Diabetes. Hero Images/Getty Images

Here's a fact: a high blood glucose level after surgery can increase your chances of having a wound infection from less than 2% to over 10%.  

Here's another fact: all patients are at risk for high blood sugar (glucose) after surgery, not just diabetics, but diabetics face even greater risks of complications after a procedure.

You see, stress increases blood sugar levels.  Now when I say stress I don't mean "my boss irritates me, the dog pooped on the carpet, the kids are being bad and I need to make dinner" stress.

 I'm talking about physical stress, such as having surgery performed on your body.  Ok, backup... both of these kinds of stress can actually increase blood sugar levels, but right now I'm more concerned about the stress before, during and after surgery, regardless of the type of stress it really is.

Blood Sugar and Surgical Complications

Here is the simple fact: uncontrolled blood glucose is bad for surgery patients.   Blood sugar that is too high can lead to wound infections, delayed healing and, for some patients, open the door for bigger complications.  In general, the higher the blood sugar, the higher the risk. 

Multiple scientific studies have determined that even slightly elevated blood sugar levels can delay healing.  Glucose levels greater than 200 dramatically increase the chances of serious complications. 

So, what's a good diabetic surgery patient to do?

Simple, make sure your doctor has your blood sugar checked before meals and at bedtime while you are in the hospital if you are diabetic.

 Even diabetics who are normally well controlled with diet and exercise can experience high levels of blood glucose in the hours and days following surgery.

If you are having a same day surgery, have your blood glucose level checked before you leave the facility.  If you are diabetic, you may want to test more frequently once you are home until your wound is completely healed.

Your diabetes needs to be controlled very well after surgery. Even if your track record of taking care of yourself, taking your medications as prescribed and routinely checking your glucose level is poor, the recovery phase after surgery is not the time to continue this self destructive pattern.  Eating appropriate foods after surgery, frequently checking your glucose level and taking your insulin or other diabetes medications as prescribed are essential to a quick and healthy recovery from surgery.

Diabetes and Surgery

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