Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is a serious problem in diabetes. WebMD explains the causes and prevention of this condition. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to keep your blood sugar in the range your doctor has advised, it can be too high or too low. Blood sugar that is too high . Keeping blood glucose (sugar) levels in a healthy range can be challenging. Knowing and understanding the symptoms of high and low blood sugar is very.
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Most high or low blood sugar problems can be managed at home by following your doctor's instructions. You can help avoid blood sugar problems by following your doctor's instructions on the use of insulin or diabetes medicines, diet, and exercise.
Home blood sugar testing will help you determine whether your blood sugar is within your target range. If you have had very low blood sugar, you may be tempted to let your sugar level run high so that you do not have another low blood sugar problem. But it is most important that you keep your blood sugar in your target range. You can do this by following your treatment plan and checking your blood sugar regularly. Sometimes a pregnant woman can get diabetes during her pregnancy.
This is called gestational diabetes. Blood sugar levels are checked regularly during the pregnancy to keep levels within a target range. Children who have diabetes need their parents' help to keep their blood sugar levels in a target range and to exercise safely. Be sure that children learn the symptoms of both high and low blood sugar so they can tell others when they need help.
There are many support groups and diabetes education centres to help parents and children understand about blood sugar, exercise, diet, and medicines.
Teens especially may have a hard time keeping their blood sugar levels in control because their bodies are growing and developing. Also, they want to be with their friends and eat foods that may affect their blood sugar. Having diabetes during the teenage years is not easy. But your teen is at an excellent age to understand the disease and its treatment and to take over some of the responsibilities of his or her care.
If your blood sugar level reads too high or too low but you are feeling well, you may want to recheck your sugar level or recalibrate your blood glucose meter. The problem may be with either your blood sample or the machine. High blood sugar occurs when the sugar glucose level in your blood rises above your target range. Eating too many calories, missing medicines insulin or pills , or having an infection or illness, injury, surgery, or emotional stress can cause your blood sugar to rise.
High blood sugar usually develops slowly over a period of hours to days. But missing a dose of insulin can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels just above your target range may make you feel tired and thirsty. If your blood sugar level stays higher than your target range for weeks, your body will adjust to that level, and you may not have as many symptoms of high blood sugar.
Unless you don't monitor your blood sugar regularly or you don't notice the symptoms of high blood sugar, you usually will have time to treat high blood sugar so that you can prevent high blood sugar emergencies. Three things can help you prevent high blood sugar problems:.
Complications of high blood sugar can cause serious problems, including coma and death. Over time, high blood sugar can damage your eyes, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerves. Low blood sugar occurs when the sugar glucose level in your blood drops below what your body needs.
Not eating enough food or skipping meals, taking too much medicine insulin or pills , exercising more than usual, or taking certain medicines that lower blood sugar can cause your blood sugar to drop rapidly.
Do not drink alcohol if you have problems recognizing the early signs of low blood sugar. People who lose weight or develop kidney problems may not need as much insulin or other medicines as they did before they lost the weight or developed kidney problems.
Their blood sugar may drop too low. Be sure to check your blood sugar often when your body goes through changes. When your blood sugar level drops below 4. This can develop quickly, in 10 to 15 minutes. You may have symptoms of low blood sugar if your blood sugar drops from a high level to a lower level. For example, if your blood sugar level has been higher than But if you have had diabetes for many years, you may not have symptoms of low blood sugar until your blood sugar level is very low.
If your doctor thinks you have low blood sugar levels but you are not having symptoms, he or she may ask you to check your blood sugar more often. Your doctor may ask you to check your blood sugar in the middle of the night or to do a 3-day test using a continuous glucose monitor. Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor. Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home. You can get dehydrated when you lose a lot of fluids because of problems like vomiting or fever. You can test for ketones at home using special tablets or test strips.
Ketones are substances made by the body when it burns fat instead of sugar. They are a sign that your blood sugar is out of control. Some home blood sugar meters can also measure blood ketones.
You use the same finger-prick method that you use to measure blood sugar. Here is what you can do to treat low blood sugar. If at any point during these steps you think you are getting worse, seek care immediately. Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Call or other emergency services now. Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care. When you have diabetes, whether it is type 1 diabetes , type 2 diabetes , or gestational diabetes , one of the most important skills you will learn is how to manage your blood sugar level.
Following your doctor's instructions on the use of insulin or diabetes medicines, diet, and exercise will help you avoid blood sugar problems. It may be hard for a parent of a young child to distinguish the difference between high and low blood sugar symptoms in a child.
When you have learned to recognize high or low blood sugar levels, you can take the appropriate steps to bring your blood sugar level back to your target blood sugar levels. People who keep their blood sugar levels under control with diet, exercise, or oral diabetes medicines are less likely to have problems with high or low blood sugar levels. Be sure to know the steps for dealing with high blood sugar and how fast your insulin medicine will work to bring your blood sugar down.
Some insulins work very fast while regular insulin takes a little longer to bring the sugar level down. Knowing how fast your insulin works will keep you from using too much too quickly. Because you have diabetes and can have low blood sugar levels, you need to keep some glucose or sucrose tablets or solution or quick-sugar food with you at all times. These can quickly raise your blood sugar level. Be sure to check your blood sugar level 15 minutes after eating a quick-sugar carbohydrate food to make sure your level is getting back to your target range.
If you continue to have low blood sugar, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate. When your blood sugar gets to 4. Eat a small snack if your next meal or snack is more than one hour away.
Because you have diabetes and can have low blood sugar levels, you need to keep some type of food with you at all times that can quickly raise your blood sugar level. These should be quick-sugar foods about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Be sure to check your blood sugar level again 15 minutes after eating a quick-sugar carbohydrate food to make sure your level is getting back to your target range.
Eat a small snack if your next meal or snack is more than a few hours away. It is important to know that sugar foods like a candy bar or ice cream do not help raise low blood sugar levels quickly, because these foods also have fat and protein.
So the body can't use the sugar carbohydrate in these foods quickly to raise the blood sugar level. You can get low blood sugar from using too much insulin or from other medicines you take. Parents need to help their child learn to treat a low blood sugar level. Pregnant women who have gestational diabetes also need to know how to deal with a low blood sugar level. Since low blood sugar levels can quickly become a medical emergency, be sure to wear medical identification, such as a medical alert bracelet , to let people know you have diabetes so they can get help for you.
If you have severe symptoms of low blood sugar, someone else may need to give you a shot of glucagon. If this occurs, be sure to call your doctor immediately to let him or her know this has happened. Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:. Although high blood sugar hyperglycemia and low blood sugar hypoglycemia have very different symptoms and treatments, they are both caused by blood sugar and insulin imbalances.
The steps you take to control your blood sugar level will help prevent both high and low blood sugar levels. Be sure to have identification that says you have diabetes, such as a medical alert bracelet , with you at all times. This will help other people take steps to care for you if you are not able tell them about your medical condition. Use home blood sugar tests to determine whether your blood sugar is in your target range. Work with your doctor to set your individual treatment goals.
If you can consistently maintain this level of control, you will have very few blood sugar level emergencies. Parents can help their child learn how to prevent low blood sugar levels and high blood sugar levels. No matter how skilled you are at monitoring and controlling your blood sugar levels, you are still at risk for high or low blood sugar levels that are brought on by stressful situations.
Stress can affect your body's blood sugar levels in two ways:. Stress can be both mental and physical. Some examples of stress include an illness, a bad day at work, and a tough problem at home. When you are under stress, your blood sugar levels change.
For more information, see the topic Stress Management. You can keep your blood sugar levels under control when you exercise, so that you do not become too hungry or make your blood sugar level drop. There are two ways to keep your blood sugar levels under control:. Keep a quick-sugar food with you during exercise in case your blood sugar level drops low. Your doctor may recommend that you get vaccinations, such as a flu vaccine or pneumococcal vaccine, to prevent you from those illnesses.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment. You can help your doctor treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:. Be sure to take your daily blood sugar glucose monitoring logbook to your appointment.
High blood sugar hyperglycemia High blood sugar occurs when the sugar glucose level in your blood rises above your target range. Three things can help you prevent high blood sugar problems: Test your blood sugar often, especially if you are sick or are not following your normal routine. You can see when your blood sugar is above your target range, even if you don't have symptoms of high blood sugar such as increased thirst, increased urination, and fatigue.
Then you can treat it early, preventing an emergency. Call your doctor if you have frequent high blood sugar levels or if your blood sugar level is consistently staying above your target range. Your medicine may need to be adjusted or changed. Drink extra water or non-caffeinated, non-sugared drinks so you will not be dehydrated. If your blood sugar continues to rise, your kidneys will increase the amount of urine produced, and you can become dehydrated.
Low blood sugar hypoglycemia Low blood sugar occurs when the sugar glucose level in your blood drops below what your body needs. If your blood sugar level drops just slightly below your target range mild low blood sugar , you may feel tired, anxious, weak, shaky, or sweaty, and you may have a rapid heart rate. If you eat something that contains sugar, these symptoms may last only a short time. If you have diabetes, you may not always notice symptoms of mild low blood sugar. This is called hypoglycemia unawareness.
If your blood sugar is well controlled and does not change much during the day, you may have an increased risk for hypoglycemic unawareness. If your blood sugar level continues to drop, your behaviour may change.
Symptoms of moderate low blood sugar may start. You may become too weak or confused to eat something to raise your blood sugar level. If your blood sugar level drops very low usually below 2. If you have symptoms of severe low blood sugar, you need medical care immediately. Health Tools Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health. Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition. Treating Low Blood Sugar Diabetes: Dealing With Low Blood Sugar.
Check Your Symptoms Do you have diabetes? How old are you? Less than 3 years. Are you male or female? Did you pass out completely lose consciousness? If you are answering for someone else: Is the person unconscious now? Are you back to your normal level of alertness? After passing out, it's normal to feel a little confused, weak, or light-headed when you first wake up or come to.
But unless something else is wrong, these symptoms should pass pretty quickly and you should soon feel about as awake and alert as you normally do. Did the loss of consciousness occur during the past 24 hours? Have you had a seizure? Is your blood sugar low? Insulin is made by the pancreas. In type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar usually occurs because the cells have become unable to use insulin.
In both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes the sugar cannot move from the blood into the cells, so high levels of sugar build up in the blood. Hyperglycemia may occur if you are not diabetic but have another illness that makes it hard for your body to process sugar, such as an inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis. High blood sugar can also happen with some medicines, especially steroids. These conditions are usually temporary and your blood sugar usually becomes normal after you are no longer ill or your medicine can be stopped.
However, if the blood sugar rises to The level of sugar in your blood can be measured with a blood test. The test should be done before breakfast, after several hours of no food or drink except water.
This is called a fasting plasma glucose. A normal fasting blood sugar is 4. The blood test should be repeated to confirm the diagnosis. Mild to moderate high blood sugar that has been confirmed by at least 2 tests can be treated in type 2 diabetes with:. Therefore the only treatment is insulin. Severe hyperglycemia, is a medical emergency and must be treated right away, starting with IV intravenous fluids and insulin.
You may need to stay several days in the hospital to:. How long hyperglycemia lasts depends on why it occurred and how well you follow the directions for controlling it. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition. Its symptoms increase or decrease depending on your response to the insulin and your diet and on how well you are able to control your blood sugar level. If you have type 2 diabetes, you will need to be careful about your diet, get enough exercise, and possibly take medicine to keep your blood sugar normal for the rest of your life.
If you have diabetes and do not have proper treatment for it, you may develop a very dangerous complication called ketoacidosis. When your body cannot move sugar into your cells, the cells break down fat for energy. Ketones are the byproduct of fat being broke down. Ketones along with high sugar level can cause ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a lifethreatening chemical imbalance and needs emergency treatment at the hospital.
Fasting blood sugar levels in the prediabetes range6. But the potential for developing type 2 diabetes is always there. Hyperglycemia that occurs from medicines that you are taking usually goes away when the medicine is stopped.
Diabetes-Related High and Low Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is most often seen in people who have diabetes that isn't well controlled. The symptoms of high blood sugar can be mild, . Chronic high blood sugar increases the likelihood of serious diabetes complications like heart disease, blindness, neuropathy, and kidney. If you get a high reading when checking your blood sugar, is there a way to get the number down quickly?.