High Blood Sugar: Causes Complications And How To Lower Blood Sugar
Your body breaks down glucose for energy using the insulin produced by the pancreas. This is required for our bodies to function. Illness can have an impact on the way our pancreas functions. Read this to learn how high blood sugar can affect your health.
7 minute read
Your body requires energy to function, and this energy comes from food. Specifically, your body breaks down glucose for energy using the insulin produced by the pancreas.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes cause impairment to this breakdown of sugar in the body, causing blood glucose levels to become irregular. When glucose is not broken down into energy, it can build up in the bloodstream and then becomes a health problem.
Your pancreas produces insulin, which breaks down glucose. With type 1 diabetes, the cells that produce insulin are mistakenly attacked by your immune system. As a result of this autoimmune condition, blood sugar levels can become dangerously high without intervention.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body no longer responds to insulin as well as it should and then also causes glucose to accumulate in the blood.
The Danger Of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can become a lot more dangerous more quickly. Hypoglycemia, if left untreated, can quickly result in diabetic coma and death.
Low blood sugars will not lead to permanent complications in most cases but cause frequent, short-term complications in the form of being physically unable to function when experiencing a low. They require fast-acting glucose as treatment.
Symptoms of low blood sugar can hit different people at different times, and some people may not feel their low blood sugars at all , which can be very dangerous.
Continuous glucose monitoring systems and diabetes alert dogs can help people detect their lows earlier, before they become extremely dangerous.
Hypo unawareness occurs in about 40% of people with type 1 diabetes, and less frequently in people with type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, one study showed that the average person with type 1 diabetes experiences two episodes of low blood sugar per week!
Low blood sugars can happen for many reasons, all of which result from too much insulin in the bloodstream and not enough glucose for the body to function properly.
Reasons can be anything from taking too much insulin for food, to accidentally over-bolusing with an insulin pump, to not finishing a meal, to drinking alcohol in excess, or even after physical exertion and exercise while not reducing basal insulin settings appropriately.
What Causes Hyperglycemia
A number of things can cause hyperglycemia:
- If you have type 1, you may not have given yourself enough insulin.
- If you have type 2, your body may have enough insulin, but it is not as effective as it should be.
- You ate more than planned or exercised less than planned.
- You have stress from an illness, such as a cold or flu.
- You have other stress, such as family conflicts or school or dating problems.
- You may have experienced the dawn phenomenon .
You May Like: Metformin Medicine Side Effects
How To Lower Blood Sugar
Its best to always talk to your doctor about what to do if a certain situation presents itself. For example, your doctor may recommend you take an additional dose of insulin to lower blood sugar. Make sure youre aware of the dose that should be taken, as well as what level it should be taken at.
While lowering blood sugar for some requires taking insulin or other medication, there are some simple things that can be done to help get blood sugar moving in the right direction.
Drinking water is a simple, effective way to help lower blood sugar. It wont get you all the way back to normal when your blood sugar level is very high, but it will usually help get it moving downward. When your body needs to get rid of extra glucose, it can dispose of it through urine. In order for this to happen, you need to be properly hydrated.
Additionally, exercising can serve as a long term proactive means of lowering average blood sugar. When you exercise, your body becomes more sensitive to insulin in your body and can pull sugar from the blood to use for energy. This is another effective way to lower your blood sugar levels naturally. Make sure that the exercise youre doing isnt too strenuous. Even going for a walk can be the exercise the body needs to use some of the excess glucose in the blood.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar Levels
Signs of high blood sugar levels include:
- Peeing a lot: The kidneys respond by flushing out the extra glucose in urine. People with high blood sugar need to pee more often and in larger amounts.
- Drinking a lot: Someone losing so much fluid from peeing that often can get very thirsty.
- Losing weight even though your appetite has stayed the same: If there isn’t enough insulin to help the body use glucose, the body breaks down muscle and stored fat instead in an attempt to provide fuel to hungry cells.
- Feeling tired: Because the body can’t use glucose for energy properly, a person may feel unusually tired.
Also Check: Articles About Diabetes Mellitus
It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can be dangerous if you have diabetes. The condition occurs when your body does not properly use insulin or does not make enough insulin.
The American Diabetes Association says hyperglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels are above the normal ranges:
- Fasting or pre-meal blood sugar: 80 to 130 mg/dl
- One to two hours after eating: less than 180 mg/dl
You should talk with your doctor about what hyperglycemia looks like for you, based on your diabetes symptoms and how you manage the condition, says Carol Nartker, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, Premier Health.
Even people with well-controlled diabetes can find themselves with hyperglycemic complications when they are sick and unable to properly take their medicine.
High Blood Glucose: Hyperglycemia
Hyperglycemia means that you have too much blood glucose. It happens when your blood glucose level is around 200 mg/dL or higher. Hyperglycemia can happen if you miss taking your diabetes medications, eat too much or do not get enough exercise. Sometimes, the medications you take for other problems cause high blood glucose.
Symptoms of hyperglycemia include:
- Having blurry vision
- Having to urinate often
If you have these symptoms, check your blood glucose right away. If its too high, follow these steps:
- Check your blood glucose every four hours. If your level does not go down after two checks or your symptoms get worse, call a member of your diabetes team.
- Drink water or other sugar-free liquids, such as diet soda or Crystal Light.
- You may need to take an extra dose of insulin. Your diabetes educator talks with you more about this.
Read Also: Metformin Er Dose
What Are The Causes Of Hyperglycemia
There are two main causes of rising or high blood sugar levels in the body:
If you are diagnosed with hyperglycemia, it is advised that you keep your blood sugarlevels in check especially after meals.
You are also advised to keep off foods with high glucose or sugar levels to reduce the chances of high blood sugar levels that can lead to an emergency.
Some of the immediate reasons that cause hyperglycemia include:
- Missing a dose of your prescribed diabetic medication or insulin
- Eating a lot of carbohydratesthat the body cant handle
- Mental and emotional stresslike anxiety or surgery
These are the causes of hyperglycemia in people who are already diagnosed with the condition and medication provided to help keep the blood sugar levels in balance.
Diabetics diagnosed with hyperglycemia are in more danger as compared to those diagnosed with hypoglycemia. With hypoglycemia, cases of emergency are rare, and if an incident occurs, you can control it before you get to the emergency room. But of course you never want it to get to that point.
Low blood sugar level can be controlled by giving the patient a sugar or glucose solution or fruits with high amounts of sugar, and they will stabilize before you get to the ER. With hyperglycemia, the ER is the first stop you make because getting rid of blood sugar is much harder and is mostly controlled by insulin shots.
For People With Type 2 Diabetes
It is normal for blood glucose levels to go up and down throughout the day. An occasional high blood glucose level is not a problem. But if your blood glucose level remains high for a few days or if you are sick, contact your doctor or Credentialed Diabetes Educator.
If not treated, high blood glucose levels can be dangerous and lead to Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Find out more here:
Also Check: Maximum Metformin Dosage
People With Difficulty Maintaining Blood Glucose Levels
The term brittle diabetes has been used to refer to people who have dramatic recurrent swings in blood glucose levels, often for no apparent reason. However, this term is no longer used. People with type 1 diabetes may have more frequent swings in blood glucose levels because insulin production is completely absent. Infection, delayed movement of food through the stomach, and other hormonal disorders may also contribute to blood glucose swings. In all people who have difficulty controlling blood glucose, doctors look for other disorders that might be causing the problem and also give people additional education on how to monitor diabetes and take their drugs.
Also Check: What Is The Best Substitute Sugar For Diabetics
For People With Type 1 Diabetes
Contact your doctor or go to hospital if:
- Vomiting stops you from drinking and makes eating difficult
- Blood glucose levels remain high
- Moderate to large ketones are present in the urine.
In type 1 diabetes, high blood glucose levels can progress to a serious condition called Ketoacidosis.
Recommended Reading: Can You Get Tattoos If Your Diabetic
What Are Considered Dangerous Blood Sugar Levels
If an individual’s sustained blood sugar falls below 55 milligrams per deciliter or measures higher than 180mg/dL, he is considered to have dangerous blood sugar levels. Normal blood sugar levels typically range from 82 to 110mg/dL, but these tend to fluctuate when an individual eats or forgets to eat. If at any point an individual’s blood sugar measures below or above the 55 to 180mg/dL thresholds, however, he might begin experiencing the effects of abnormal blood levels, including dizziness, fatigue, and weakness. If these dangerous levels are sustained over a period of time, there is an increased possibility of serious medical issues.
Blood sugar levels are measured in a variety of ways, but the most common test is to introduce glucose-indicating enzymes, such as hexokinase, into a blood sample. The changes are then tracked and measured. Should the sample indicate blood sugar levels that are extremely low or high, further testing may be needed to confirm the reading. Depending on the final results, the patient may be diagnosed with either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.
Is Blood Sugar 185 Too High
High blood sugarHigh blood sugarHigh blood glucose levels can cause widespread damage to tissues and organs, including those that play a key role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. For example, damage to the blood vessels and kidneys can cause blood pressure to rise. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com articles , known as hyperglycemia, occurs when a person’s blood sugar is over 180 milligrams per deciliter
Don’t Miss: Type 2 Diabetes Medication Side Effects
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Losing weight helps control blood sugar levels. Being overweight is linked to increased incidents of diabetes and greater occurrences of insulin resistance.
Studies show that reducing weight by even only 7 percent can reduce the chances of developing diabetes by 58 percent.
It is important to note that a person does not need to achieve ideal body weight to benefit from losing 1020 pounds and keeping it off. Doing so will also improve cholesterol, reduce the risk of complications, and improve a persons general sense of well-being.
Eating a healthful diet full of fruits and vegetables and getting enough exercise can help a person lose weight or maintain their currently healthy weight.
How Is Hyperglycaemia Treated
If you experience hyperglycaemia regularly, speak to your doctor or diabetes care team. You may need to change your treatment or lifestyle to keep your blood glucose levels within a healthy range.
You may be advised to:
- adjust the foods you eat eg, avoid foods such as cakes or sugary drinks
- drink plenty of sugar-free fluids to help keep you well hydrated
- exercise more often even gentle, regular exercise such as walking can lower your blood sugar level
- if you use insulin, adjust your dose your healthcare team can give you specific advice about how to do this.
You may also be advised to monitor your blood glucose level more closely or test your blood or urine for substances called ketones .
Also Check: Does Metformin Mess With Your Kidneys
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Dka
The symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis usually donât develop all at once they usually come on slowly over several hours. People who have DKA may:
- feel really tired
- feel really thirsty or pee way more than usual
- have a dry mouth and signs of dehydration
These symptoms are caused by the high blood sugar levels that usually happen before someone develops DKA. If the person doesnât get treatment, these signs of DKA can happen:
- abdominal pain
Stick To Your Medication And Insulin Regimen
Skipping a dose of medication or insulin can be harmful to your body and increase your blood sugar levels.
Its important to stick to your treatment plan and follow your doctors instructions for taking your medication.
Healthful lifestyle habits can help people manage their blood sugar levels over the long term, such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, staying hydrated, and getting good sleep.
You May Like: Diabetes Awareness Ribbon Colors
Ketoacidosis: When Hyperglycemia Becomes Severe For People With Type 1 Diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, it is important to recognize and treat hyperglycemia because if left untreated it can lead to a dangerous condition called . This happens because without glucose, the body’s cells must use ketones as a source of energy. Ketoacidosis develops when ketones build up in the blood. It can become serious and lead to diabetic coma or even death. According to the American Diabetes Association, ketoacidosis affects people with type 1 diabetes, but it rarely affects people with type 2 diabetes.
Many symptoms of ketoacidosis are similar to hyperglycemia. The hallmarks of ketoacidosis are:
High level of ketones in the urine
Shortness of breath
Additionally, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and confusion may accompany ketoacidosis. Immediate medical attention is highly recommended if you have any of these symptoms.
Some people with diabetes are instructed by their doctor to regularly test ketone levels. Ketone testing is performed two ways: using urine or using blood. For a urine test, you dip a special type of test strip into your urine. For testing blood ketones, a special meter and test strips are used. The test is performed exactly like a blood glucose test. If ketone testing is part of your self-monitoring of diabetes, your healthcare professional will provide you with other information including prevention.
How Does Blood Sugar Rise:
Blood sugar rises as a result of food, especially carbohydrates, being eaten, broken down, and absorbed into the system. Whenever carbohydrates are eaten they are in complex forms that need to be broken down into simpler more easily usable forms. After they have been broken down they are absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to cells around the body. The more carbohydrates that are eaten at once, especially ones that digest extremely quickly, the higher your blood sugar will go.
This is especially true whenever you eat carbohydrates in isolation. If you do not eat carbohydrates without any fat or protein you will have a massive spike in blood sugar, leading to a massive spike of insulin, and then a rapid and significant dip in blood sugar leading to hypoglycemia and what we talked about above.
Read More: The Sugar Secret
Also Check: Does Low Blood Sugar Cause High Blood Pressure
I Feel Fine So I Dont Need To Test My Levels
Zanini points out that having high blood glucose can come as a surprise to anyone. âIts possible they didnt notice any symptoms or were simply feeling more tired than usual,ââ she says. âIts easy to attribute being tired to many other things. . .so this is why regular physicals with your healthcare provider are important.â The bottom line? Listen to your body, take note of symptoms as they arise, and consider monitoring your continuous glucose values.
Recommended Reading: How To Bring My Sugar Up