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An Introduction to Hyperglycemia – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Higher than normal quantities of glucose in the blood is specifically referred to as hyperglycemia. On the contrary, when the sugar levels go too low, the condition is referred to as hypoglycemia.

What is Normal Level of Sugar?

  1. Fasting: Blood sugar normal level for person without diabetes: 70–99 mg/dl (3.9–5.5 mmol/L)
    Official ADA recommendation for someone with diabetes: 80–130 mg/dl (4.4–7.2 mmol/L)
  2. 2 hours after meals: Normal for person without diabetes: Less than 140 mg/dl (7.8 mmol/L)
    Official ADA recommendation for someone with diabetes: Less than 180 mg/dl (10.0 mmol/L)
  3. HbA1c: Normal sugar level in blood for person without diabetes: Less than 5.7%
    Official ADA recommendation for someone with diabetes: Less than 7.0%

The blood glucose ranges as defined by WHO for a condition called hyperglycemia is as follows:

  • Blood glucose levels greater than 7.0 mmol/L (126 mg/dl) when fasting.
  • Blood glucose levels greater than 11.0 mmol/L (200 mg/dl) 2 hours after meals.

Causes of High Blood Sugar or Hyperglycemia

Higher level of blood glucose is caused by loss of insulin producing cells in the pancreas or development of resistance towards insulin in the body. Other high blood sugar causes include:

  • Missing a dose of diabetic medication, tablets or insulin
  • Eating more carbohydrates than your body and/or medication can manage
  • Being mentally or emotionally stressed (injury, surgery or anxiety)
  • Contracting an infection

In order to be able to control diabetes better, it is important to identify the symptoms of high blood sugar first. The following signs of high blood sugar will help you identify the condition better.

  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Vision blurring
  • Sores that don’t heal

It is advisable to check blood glucose readings at regular intervals using a compact glucometer in order to assess the condition and seek medical help as and when required in order to prevent chronic complications, such as eye, kidney, or heart disease or nerve damage.

Complications of Hyperglycemia

In the short term, continuously high blood sugar levels lead to ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition affecting those suffering from type 1 diabetes as well as those with type 2 diabetes dependent on insulin. If blood sugar levels rise above 15 mmol/l (270 mg/dl) the risk of ketoacidosis becomes even more significant. The risk of ketoacidosis increases if insulin dose is missed or if the person with diabetes falls sick.

In the long term, the damage can be more severe as consistently high blood sugar levels lead to increased risk of organ damage, resulting in diabetes related complications.

Diabetics should aim to maintain their blood sugar levels close to the target HbA1c range of 48mmol/mol (6.5%). However while aiming for this it is imperative to ensure that their glucose levels don’t go into hypoglycemia.

Prevention of Hyperglycemia

Rather than allowing hyperglycemia to reach a complex stage, it is advisable to take precautionary measures in order to prevent its onset. The following changes in your diet and lifestyle will be helpful.

  • Regular blood sugar testing using glucometer
  • Managing carbohydrates
  • Be consistent with medication
  • Wear medical identification symbols

Treatments Available for Hyperglycemia

  • The most important part of managing diabetes is to ensure taking regular readings using a handy smartphone glucometer. It is a good idea to keep a record on a paper or with the help of your smartphone diabetes management app to consult your doctor.
  • Exercise is another significant factor in promoting healthy blood sugar levels. If you take medicines which increase insulin, consult your doctor to know the most suitable time for exercise. If you have ketones in your urine, it is advisable to not exercise even if your blood glucose is above 300 mg/dL without ketones presence.
  • Streamline your diet and snacking habits in order to prevent any calorie or sugar overload.
  • Constantly consult your doctor and personalized diabetes educator to analyze your sugar patterns and how the medication and overall treatment is responding. Only they should change the amount, type, or timing of your diabetes medication.
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