Hyperglycemia is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. It can occur due to a variety of factors, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate insulin administration in individuals with type 1 diabetes, insulin resistance in individuals with type 2 diabetes, and stress-related experiences.(1)
Symptoms of High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia):
General Symptoms of Hyperglycemia include,
- Polyuria, or increased and frequent urination
- Polydipsia, or increased thirst
- Blurred vision
- Glucosuria, or glucose in the urine.
Acute symptoms of hyperglycemia are not usually seen at blood glucose levels below 14 mmol/L or 250 mg/dl. (1),(2).
Diabetic Ketoacidosis Symptoms:
If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to life-threatening conditions such as Diabetic Ketoacidosis or Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar state.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a state of coma caused by a lack of insulin production and is characterized by symptoms such as
- Fruity odor
- Tachypnea, or shortness of breath
Prolonged high blood glucose levels can also lead to delayed wound healing, nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), and damage to end-organs such as the eyes, kidneys, brain, and heart. This is why it is important to manage hyperglycemia to prevent these long-term complications (1),(3).
Hyperosmolarity Due to High Blood Glucose Levels:
The hyperosmolar state is a rare condition seen in individuals with type 2 diabetes. In this condition, the body in its attempt to get rid of the high glucose levels in the blood produces large amounts of urine, causing life-threatening dehydration and potentially coma. Both conditions require emergent management to reduce elevated blood glucose levels with insulin therapy.
It's also important to note that the dawn phenomena, a surge in hormones between 0400 and 0500 that cause a spike in blood glucose levels, can also contribute to hyperglycemia. Individuals experiencing this phenomenon may need to adjust their insulin or medication regimen to account for this.
Do Non-Diabetics Experience High Blood Sugar Levels?
Non-diabetics can also experience high blood sugar, which can be caused by certain medications, stress, or other underlying health conditions. The symptoms for non-diabetics may be the same as those for diabetics, such as increased thirst and frequent urination.
Infections can also cause high blood sugar in diabetics. This happens because the body's immune system releases stress hormones in response to an infection, which causes the liver to produce more glucose. This leads to a temporary increase in blood sugar levels, which is dangerous for diabetics who are already managing their blood sugar levels.
Shaking can be a sign of high blood sugar as the body's cells may not be getting enough glucose to function properly. This leads to weakness, trembling, and other symptoms.
High blood sugar can also cause heart attack as it damages the blood vessels and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, it can cause anxiety as it leads to feelings of worry and fear due to the potential health risks associated with it.
How to Manage Hyperglycemia?Managing hyperglycemia involves
- Monitoring blood sugar levels regularly
- Following a healthy diet
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Taking supplements or medication to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
In some cases, individuals may need to use insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels. It's important to also have regular check-ups with a healthcare provider to monitor for any complications that may arise.
In summary, Hyperglycemia is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels and can be caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, insulin resistance or inadequate insulin administration, and stress. High blood sugar can also be caused by infections, certain medications, and underlying health conditions in non-diabetics, and can lead to heart attacks, anxiety, and other symptoms. Symptoms include increased urination, thirst, blurred vision, fatigue, and glucose in the urine. If left untreated, it can lead to serious conditions such as diabetic Ketoacidosis or Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar state, which can cause damage to organs and delayed wound healing. Managing hyperglycemia involves monitoring blood sugar levels, following a healthy diet, exercising, and taking medication as prescribed.
- Mathew TK, Tadi P. Blood Glucose Monitoring. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555976/
- American diabetes association - https://diabetes.org/healthy-living/medication-treatments/blood-glucose-testing-and-control/hyperglycemia