Signs of High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)

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An important part of managing diabetes is recognising when your blood glucose (sugar) becomes too high and knowing what to do about it. In this article we will talk about what is too high a blood glucose level, how this can happen, help you recognise the key symptoms of high blood glucose and give some advice on what action you can take if it happens.

So what is too high a blood glucose?

When blood glucose is higher then 180 mg/dl (in US units) or 10mmol/L (in UK units) measured two hours after food, then the blood glucose is too high. The technical term for this is hyperglycemia.

How is Hyperglycemia caused?

Hyperglycemia is often a result of when food, activity and medications are not balanced. Some of the common reasons why this balance can be altered are:

· Too much food or the wrong type food
· Not enough medication
· Not enough insulin
· Poor injection technique
· Overuse of injection sites
· Infections or illness
· Stress
· Increase in weight

A common cause of hyperglycemia in diabetics is missing dose of insulin or not taking enough. This also the case with diabetic oral medication. Eating too much, can also cause a rise in blood sugar levels

Signs and Symptoms of hyperglycemia

In the early stages, there are likely to be no symptoms at all and even when symptoms do arise they may come on so slowly that they are not noticed.
You may get some of following symptoms:

· More hunger or thirst then usual
· Excessive urination
· Tiredness and lethargy
· Frequent infections
· Blurred vision

If untreated, high blood glucose may result in diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious condition due to a lack of insulin. This causes the body to try to find energy from other sources as it cannot use the glucose in the blood. Ketones and acid form as a result.
The condition is characterised by vomiting, drowsiness, smell of acetone (like pear drops) on the breath and can result in coma.
Monitoring your blood glucose regularly may help you identify when your blood glucose has become too high and recognising the warning signs will help highlight to you that action needs to be taken.

What to do if you experience Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia can usually be treated with either oral diabetic medications or insulin. If blood glucose levels don’t respond to insulin or medication, diabetics are advised to contact their GP immediately.
Remember:

· Consult your doctor
· Continue with your diabetes treatment
· Consume plenty of fluids
· Test your blood glucose levels every 2-4 hrs
· Adjust your meal plan
· Adjust your medication or insulin (only if instructed by doctor to do so)

As with many things in life, prevention is better then cure. Be aware of the causes of hyperglycemia and do what you can to prevent them.

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