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Treating Hyperglycemia: High Blood Sugar

Treating Hyperglycemia: High Blood Sugar

Blood sugar control is the center of any diabetes treatment plan. We have discussed low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia. Today, we discuss a condition just as serious. High blood sugar, also known as, hyperglycemia, is a major concern and complication from diabetes. Hyperglycemia can affect people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

 

There are 2 main types of hyperglycemia:

  • Fasting Hyperglycemia: when blood sugar is higher than 130mg per deciliter after not eating or drinking for at least 8 hours. 
  • Postprandial or after-meal Hyperglycemia: This is blood sugar that is higher than 180mg per deciliter 2 hours after you eat. People without diabetes rarely have blood sugar levels above 140mg/dl after a meal, unless the meal is very large. 

Frequent or ongoing high blood sugar can cause damage to your nerves, blood vessels, and organs. It can also lead up to other serious conditions. People with type 1 diabetes are prone to a build up of acids in the blood called ketoacidosis. 

If you have type 2 diabetes, or if you are at risk for it, extremely high blood sugar can lead to a potentially fatal condition in which your body cannot process sugar. This is called Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome - or HHNS. You will urinate more frequently at first, and then less often later on, but your urine may become dark and you could become severely dehydrated

It is critical to treat symptoms of high blood sugar immediately to help prevent any complications. 

Causes of Hyperglycemia

Your blood sugar may spike if the following occurs:

  • You skip or forget your insulin or oral glucose lowering medicine.
  • You eat too many grams of carbs for the amount of insulin you took, or eat too many carbs in general.  
  • You have an infection or are sick.
  • You are under stress.
  • You become inactive or exercise less than usual.
  • You take part in strenuous physical activity, especially when your blood sugar levels are high and insulin levels are low.    

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia

Early signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

Ongoing high blood sugar may cause the following:

  • Vaginal and skin infections 
  • Slow healing cuts and sores
  • Worse vision
  • Nerve damage causing painful cold or insensitive feet, loss of hair, erectile dysfunction 
  • Stomach and intestinal problems, such as chronic constipation or diarrhea 
  • Damage to your eyes, blood vessels, or kidneys 

Treatment for Hyperglycemia

If you have diabetes and notice any of the early signs of high blood sugar, test your blood sugar and call your doctor. They may ask you for the results of several readings. Then, they may recommend the following changes:

Drink more water: Water helps remove the excess sugar from your blood through urine, and it helps you avoid dehydration. 

More Exercise: Working out can help lower your blood sugar. However, under certain conditions, it can make your blood sugar rise even more. Ask your doctor what type of exercise is right for you. 

Caution: If you have type 1 diabetes and your blood sugar is high, you need to check your urine for ketones. When you have ketones, do NOT exercise. If you have type 2 diabetes and your blood sugar is high, you must also check your urine for ketones, and make sure that you are well hydrated. Then your doctor may allow you to exercise with caution, as long as you feel up to it. 

Change your eating habits: You may need to meet with a dietitian or a nutritionist to change the amount and types of foods that you eat, as well as develop a meal plan. 

Change medications: Your doctor may change the amount, timing, or type of diabetes medications that you take. Don't make changes without talking to your doctor first. If you have type 1 diabetes and your blood sugar is more than 250mg/dl, your doctor may want you to test your urine or blood for ketones. Call your doctor if your blood sugar is running higher than your treatment goals. 

Prevention

Hyperglycemia is preventable, and if you work to keep your blood sugar under control, follow your meal plan, exercise program, and medicine schedule, then you shouldn't have to worry about developing high blood sugar. In addition, you can also know your diet, test your blood sugar regularly, tell your doctor if you have repeated abnormal blood sugar readings, and wear a medical identification to let people know you have diabetes in case of an emergency.  

ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE TAKING MEDICATION, SUPPLEMENTS, OR BEGINNING A HEALTH REGIMEN. 

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