What is meant by the term excursion in diabetes patients?

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
“Excursion” simply means fluctuations in your blood sugar, but the term is usually used when talking about how much the blood sugar numbers change with meals. Doctors will say that your meal-related “excursions” shouldn’t be more than a certain number. For example, I often tell my patients that an excursion of no more than 40 to 60 mg/dL glucose with a meal indicates very good control. An example would be a person whose pre-meal number is around 90 with a rise to about 140 maximum after eating. That would qualify as an “excursion” of 50 points -- pretty close to the kind of change you would see in someone without diabetes. The concept is also helpful in knowing whether someone has a problem with blood sugar control primarily in the fasting setting or after eating. 

For example, let’s say a person takes a combination of long- and short-acting insulin and she has a hemoglobin A1c of 8.5. She needs to do better, but should there be adjustment to the long-acting insulin, the short-acting insulin or both? Well, if the fasting or pre-meal glucose levels are high (let’s say around 220) but the meal-related excursions are typically only around 50 mg/dL (from about 220 to about 270 on average), then you know that the fast-acting insulin doses are generally correct, but the long-acting insulin dose is too low. If the person took enough long-acting insulin to get the fasting sugar down to around 100, then with meals that 50 point excursion would be just about perfect.
William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
In diabetic patients, an excursion is a rapid change in blood sugar, usually referring to a rapid upwards spike in blood sugar.
Beyond Fingersticks: The art of control with continuous glucose monitoring

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Beyond Fingersticks: The art of control with continuous glucose monitoring

Everything you ever wanted to know about CGM (but didn’t know to ask)!Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM), the revolutionary technology that’s poised to completely change diabetes care, gives you...

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Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.