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Hyperglycemia: Identifying the Symptoms

And what to do if you see them

Laura KolodjeskiLaura Kolodjeski

In my last post, I took a look at what hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is, how to recognize it and what to do if you see symptoms. On the other end of the spectrum is hyperglycemia – or high blood sugar. In doing my research on both conditions, I learned that it’s significantly important for caregivers and those living with diabetes to be aware of what these conditions are and how to deal with them. Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) occurs when the body has too little insulin and/or when the body can’t use insulin properly, and it affects people living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In this post, I’ll share some additional details I found.

Know the Causes
If you are living with diabetes, it is important to know what may cause hyperglycemia. There can be a number of factors; such as, not taking your diabetes medication(s) as prescribed, eating more than planned or not getting your normal amount of exercise. Hyperglycemia may also occur when there is stress in your life or when you’re sick.

Know the Symptoms
The symptoms of hyperglycemia may include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blood sugar reading greater than 130 mg/dL (fasting) or 180 mg/dL (post-meal) for most people with diabetes

It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider about the effects of prolonged hyperglycemia.

Know How to Treat It
If you are above your target goal, you should discuss your current treatment plan with your healthcare provider. There are also a few other things WebMD suggests you do to help lower your blood sugar. First, you should test your blood sugar often and drink water to remove excess sugar from urine and avoid dehydration. In addition, getting more exercise can lower blood sugars. However, those with type 1 diabetes and blood sugar over 240 mg/dL should check your urine for ketones. If there are ketones, don’t exercise. For those with type 2 diabetes and a blood sugar over 300 mg/dL, don’t exercise; exercising at those levels can be dangerous to your health.

A longer term solution involves examining your eating habits. You may be eating foods that are raising your blood sugar levels too high. Consult with a dietitian, so they can work with you to identify the right amounts and types of foods to be eating.

The ADA and WebMD are very good sources of information on hyperglycemia. And of course, always speak with your doctor regarding your medical concerns and needs. If you have tips for how you have dealt with hyperglycemia, please leave them in the comments section below.

All the best,

Laura K.

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