Hyperglycemia (High blood sugar) is a health condition which affects diabetes patients. Various reasons lead to hyperglycemia including food and physical activity choices, illness, non-diabetes medications or not taking enough glucose-lowering medication. If left unattended, hyperglycemia can cause serious complications such as diabetic coma. Continuous hyperglycemia can affect your eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.
Diabetes patients may become hyperglycemic if they don't control their blood glucose level. For instance, if type 1 diabetics don’t take enough insulin before eating, the glucose their body makes from that food can build up in their blood and lead to hyperglycemia.
Common signs of Hyperglycemia
Hyperglycemia doesn't show any signs and symptoms until blood sugar level rises significantly. Symptoms of hyperglycemia develop slowly over several days or weeks. The longer blood sugar levels stay high, the more serious the symptoms become. Therefore, recognizing the symptoms early is the key to treating hyperglycemia promptly. Some of the early signs include:
If hyperglycemia goes unattended, it can lead to the buildup of toxic acids in your blood and urine (ketoacidosis). Symptoms include:
Factors contributing to Hyperglycemia
Diabetes diminishes the effects of insulin on your body because of more than one reason. Either the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or the body is resistant to the effects of insulin or doesn't produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. As a result, glucose levels rise and may reach dangerously high levels if not treated on time. Many factors can contribute to hyperglycemia including:
- Not using enough insulin or oral diabetes medication
- Not injecting insulin properly or using expired insulin
- Not following your diabetes eating plan
- Being inactive
- Having an illness or infection
- Using certain medications, such as steroids
- Being injured or having surgery
- Experiencing emotional stress, such as family conflict or workplace challenges
Illness or stress can prompt hyperglycemia because hormones produced to fight illness or stress can also cause your blood sugar to rise.
Treating hyperglycemia involves lowering blood glucose levels. If they are too high, talk with your doctor about what you can do to keep it in a more normal range. He/She may recommend:
- Medication Adjustment: Your doctor may change your glucose-lowering medication dose or the time when you take it to help prevent hyperglycemia.
- Meal Plan Help: A balanced diet and planned eating can help you avoid hyperglycemia. This includes eating small meals, monitoring intake of sugar and carbohydrates, restriction on use of alcohol and following a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains. You can always take help from a dietitian if you are having issues planning meals.
- Exercise: Regular exercise is important even if you don’t suffer from any health complication. Following an exercise regime can help you keep your blood glucose level in a normal range.
It is important to take your medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider because when you don’t, it can cause severe health complexities.