hyperglycemia
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What Is Hyperglycemia or High Sugar Levels?

Hyperglycemia is also known as high sugar levels and happens when the blood contains too much sugar. This condition is a sign of diabetes. The reason for having too much blood sugar is that the body does not have enough insulin or is unable to process the insulin properly. If this condition of having high blood sugar continues for a long time then it can lead to damage to the nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Hence it is important to get proper treatment when you see symptoms of high blood sugar to prevent the effects of hyperglycemia.

Hyperglycemia Levels Chart

This blood sugar chart indicates the fasting values, postprandial values and the category the condition falls under.

CATEGORY FASTING VALUE POSTPRANDIAL VALUE (post consumption) VALUE AFTER 2 HOURS
Normal 70-100 170-200 <140
Early diabetes 101-126 190-230 140-200
Established diabetes >126 230-300 >200

High Blood Sugar Symptoms

Hyperglycemia symptoms do not appear until the glucose levels get too elevated. The signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia occur when the glucose levels are above 180 to 200 mg/DL. The symptoms last as long as the sugar levels remain high and the condition worsens.

Early high blood sugar symptoms are:

  • Feeling thirsty despite drinking enough water
  • Frequent urination
  • Headache and fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Wounds that do not heal

If the high sugar levels are not controlled it can lead to a buildup of ketones in urine and blood. These ketones are toxic acids and are called ketoacidosis. It includes:

  • Breath smells fruity
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

If you have the above blood sugar symptoms then it is best to get tested for diabetes. People who have diabetes should often monitor the glucose levels so that there are no side effects of hyperglycemia.

Who is at Risk?

The risk of developing hyperglycemia is high in:

  • People having a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • People having high cholesterol and blood pressure levels
  • Overweight and obese people
  • Women with a family history of gestational diabetes
  • Women who had gestational diabetes
  • Women suffering from the polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS
  • African Americans Hispanic, Asian Americans, and Native Americans are more at risk of high blood sugar than other groups of people.
  • People who do not follow a healthy diet
  • People who consume fried, processed, and sugary food

Hyperglycemia Causes

The blood sugar levels can rise if the insulin is not produced properly or is not enough. The other causes of hyperglycemia are:

  • The amount of carbohydrates in the food is more compared to the insulin produced in the body.
  • Physical stress or stress due to cold, flu, or other infections can affect blood sugar levels.
  • Emotional stress due to work or family issues
  • Hormonal issues can also result in hyperglycemia
  • Conditions like Cushing Syndrome can lead to insulin resistance
  • Cystic fibrosis, pancreatic cancer, and pancreatitis can cause an imbalance in sugar levels
  • Medications like diuretics and steroids can lead to hyperglycemia.
  • Pregnancy can lead to reduced insulin sensitivity.
  • If the insulin dose that you are taking is not enough for our body.

How is Hyperglycemia Diagnosed?

If you have even subtle signs of hyperglycemia it is best to get a hyperglycemia diagnosis done by getting the blood sugar levels checked.

  • A haemoglobin A1C test is a common hyperglycemia test that is recommended by a doctor if there are signs of it. This test gives a 3-month average of the blood sugar level. It checks the percentage of blood sugar in RBC to the haemoglobin. If it is high then a treatment plan will be worked out by the doctor. This percentage is different based on age and certain other conditions like pregnancy. Older adults will have a higher range than others.
  • Fasting blood sugar test is done by taking a blood sample after not eating or drinking anything for a minimum of 8 hours.
  • Postprandial or after meal hyperglycemia test is done to check levels after a meal.
  • Urine test is done to check the presence of ketones and also glucose in the urine.

How is Hyperglycemia Treated?

Hyperglycemia treatment is a lifelong process and a person having it should take steps to ensure that there are no spikes in blood glucose levels. The treatment plan will include:

  • Hyperglycemia medicine to bring blood sugar levels to normal. Insulin injections may be recommended depending on the cause, age and severity. Altering of the medications may be done depending on the response to the medication and the side effects.
  • The doctor will also recommend physical activity to reduce excess glucose in the blood. But if they find ketones in the blood, they should avoid exercise.
  • A diet plan will be introduced where the diet will be moderated and low sugar foods will be included.

Hyperglycemia care includes many things like medication, diet and exercise. The treatment should also be holistic along with regular monitoring. Contact our team at Cure.fit to get the right treatment plan.

How can Hyperglycemia be Prevented?

Hyperglycemia prevention tips are:

  • Maintaining a physically active lifestyle which includes exercise to keep the blood sugar levels low.
  • Follow a regular meal routine including a healthy hyperglycemia diet which is rich in whole foods, fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a normal weight
  • Limit alcohol
  • Avoid sugary, fried and fast food
  • Avoid smoking
  • Get regular health checks

Complications Of Hyperglycemia

When not treated correctly, hyperglycemia can lead to several long term health complications and in extreme cases, even death. Hyperglycemia can lead to following complications.

  • cardiovascular diseases
  • nerve damage
  • kidney damage or failure (diabetic nephropathy)
  • loss of vision or eye damage
  • bone and joint problems
  • teeth and gum infections. 

In extreme cases where high blood sugar symptoms are not identified and treated it can lead to life threatening conditions like diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state which both lead to a diabetic coma.

What If It Goes Untreated?

If blood sugar levels rise significantly or are not addressed, it can result in two dangerous illnesses. 

Diabetes-related ketoacidosis This issue occurs when your body does not produce enough insulin. When this occurs, glucose is unable to reach your cells for energy. Your blood sugar increases, and your body starts breaking down fat for energy. When fat is broken down for energy in the body, harmful chemicals known as ketones are produced. Ketones build up in the blood and eventually leak into the urine. Diabetic ketoacidosis, if left untreated, can progress to a diabetic coma, which can be fatal.

Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic condition This issue arises when the body produces insulin yet it does not function effectively. Without ketoacidosis, blood glucose levels can rise to beyond 600 mg/dL (33.3 mmol/L). If you acquire this illness, your body will be unable to utilize either glucose or fat as an energy source. Glucose then enters the urine, increasing urination. Diabetic hyperosmolar hyperglycemia, if left untreated, can result in life-threatening dehydration and coma. It is critical to get medical attention for it as soon as possible. Read more about treat gestational diabetes.

Fasting Hyperglycemia Vs. Postprandial (After-Meal) Hyperglycemia

Fasting hyperglycemia is the term used to describe blood sugar levels before having a meal or in other words, the blood sugar levels while fasting. Postprandial hyperglycemia is the term used to denote blood sugar levels 1-2 hours after having a meal. 

Normal levels for blood sugar when a person is fasting, vary between 70 and 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). A diagnosis of impaired fasting hyperglycemia is given when the blood glucose level is between 100 and 125 mg/dL. You may have diabetes if the results of two or more blood glucose tests taken while you are fasting show that your blood glucose level is 126 mg/dL or higher.

Alternatively, high blood sugar levels after eating is referred to as postprandial hyperglycemia, which simply means blood sugar levels after a meal have been spiked. The results during the first couple of hours after eating are an accurate reflection of how your body has reacted to the food items you have eaten. 

In addition, there is a connection between hyperglycemia brought on by fasting and hyperglycemia brought on by eating. In a research published in 2018, the researchers highlighted that if a person suffers hyperglycemia while they are fasting, they may also experience "markedly increased" postprandial hyperglycemia after eating.

What Is Hypoglycemia?

A condition known as hypoglycemia occurs when a person's blood sugar (glucose) level is much lower than the normal range. The primary generator of energy in your body is glucose. Treatment for diabetes is frequently associated with hypoglycemia. But in addition to diabetes, low blood sugar can be brought on by a number of different medications and diseases, some of which are quite uncommon. Treatment for hypoglycemia must begin right away. A fasting blood sugar level of 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), which is equivalent to 3.9 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or below should act as a warning for hypoglycemia for the majority of people. You can consult your primary health care physician for values that are specific to your condition.

Difference Between Hyperglycemia Vs Hypoglycemia?

Hyperglycemia develops when there is an abnormally high quantity of sugar in the blood. Hyperglycemia is a condition that can occur in diabetic patients if their condition is not appropriately managed. Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when there is a dangerously low level of sugar in the blood. The use of medicine to decrease blood sugar levels frequently results in this undesirable side effect.

Hyperglycemia Vs Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where certain people are unable to either utilize the insulin they produce to absorb glucose from the bloodstream or do not produce enough insulin overall. Hyperglycemia is when people with diabetes suffer from constant high blood sugar levels. Different factors play a role in hyperglycemia such as food intake, stress levels, physical activity etc.

What Is Ketoacidosis?

One of the most dangerous complications of diabetes is called diabetic ketoacidosis. The problem manifests itself when the body is unable to produce an adequate amount of insulin. Sugar, which is a main source of energy for muscles and other tissues, is able to enter cells in the body with the assistance of insulin, which plays a critical part in this process. In the absence of sufficient insulin, the body will start to use stored fat as a source of fuel. Because of this, an accumulation of acids known as ketones occurs in the circulation. The accumulation might result in diabetic ketoacidosis if it is not addressed in a timely manner.

If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, it is important that you are aware of the warning symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis and know when to seek emergency medical attention.

Bottomline

Hyperglycemia, or simply, high blood sugar levels, is when your body’s blood sugar readings are more than 170mg/dL at any given point in time. This phenomenon can be caused due to several reasons and understanding the symptoms of hyperglycemia would be vital to be able to treat it timely. Frequently untreated hyperglycemic episodes can lead to multiple complications in the body and might be unhealthy in the long run. Prevention of hyperglycemia is always a better approach as you would ensure that there is no cause for complications in the first place. Consult your doctor at the earliest if you are unable to recognize or treat the symptoms of high blood sugar levels.

FAQs

What blood sugar level is hyperglycemia?

If your blood sugar levels have crossed beyond 180-200mg/dL then such a condition is referred to as hyperglycemia. When then the body has too little insulin or if the body fails to use the insulin then such a condition may arise. If you are experiencing a severe stage then you might observe symptoms like sweet breath, nausea, vomiting, weakness, dry mouth, etc. You must take immediate action to bring the spiked blood sugar level to normal.

What does hyperglycemia feel like?

Hyperglycemia develops over a few weeks. During the early days, a person generally feels fatigued, has frequent urination, and feels a thirst that cannot be quenched. Further, you might experience blurred visions and headaches. Eventually, the late signs and symptoms involve abdominal pain, weakness, confusion, sweet breath, dry mouth, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting.

What is the fastest way to cure hyperglycemia?

To take down your sugar levels and treat hyperglycemia you must follow a good diet that doesn’t contain food with high sugar level and carbohydrates. Added to that it is very vital to perform physical activities and be consistent with your medications. Further, hyperglycemia can be controlled by getting the right proportions of insulin doses.

What is worse, hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia?

Hyperglycemia where the blood sugars are too high and hypoglycemia where the blood sugar levels are lower than the standard levels both have equally severe complications. However, there is a higher risk that a person with hypoglycemia might die if proper treatment is not provided at the right time. On the other hand, hyperglycemia can also lead to an emergency if a person experiences too much confusion and shortness of breath.

What level of blood sugar is dangerous for type 2 diabetes?

According to research, a reading that is higher than 300 mg/dL is considered dangerous. It is strongly suggested that you get in touch with your primary care physician as soon as possible if you have two or more consecutive readings of 300 mg/dL. Coma is a possible outcome of extremely high blood sugar levels, particularly those that are much above 300 mg/dL.

What level of blood sugar is dangerous for type 1 diabetes?

The A1C goal value for most type 1 diabetics should be 7% or below. It is dangerous to have a blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L), which is considered too low. An urgent response is required if the blood sugar level is below 54 mg/dL (3.0 mmol/L).

What level of blood sugar is dangerous for pregnancy?

The level of blood sugar considered dangerous for pregnancy varies from person to person. Before a meal, anything above 95 mg/dL is considered dangerous and after an hour of the meal 140 mg/dl or more is considered dangerous. 

What is Ketoacidosis?

People who have diabetes are at risk for developing a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can be fatal. It takes place when the body begins to break down fat at a pace that is significantly faster than normal. Because the liver converts the fat into a fuel known as ketones, the blood becomes more acidic as a result of this process.

What is the Dawn phenomenon and is it related to hyperglycemia?

The phrase ‘dawn phenomenon’ is used to describe an abnormal early-morning rise in blood sugar (glucose) in people with diabetes, often between 2 and 8 a.m.  According to some experts, the nightly release of the body's naturally occurring "counter-regulatory" hormones, such as growth hormone, cortisol, glucagon, and adrenaline, enhances insulin resistance and raises blood sugar levels. These high blood sugar levels are also known as hyperglycemia.


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