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What Happens If Your Blood Sugar Is Too High

Take Your Insulin As Prescribed

10 Alarming Signs Your Blood Sugar Is Too High

High blood sugar occurs when your body has too little insulin, or your body cant use insulin properly. Administering insulin can bring your blood sugar levels down.

Talk to your doctor about how much rapid-acting insulin you should administer when your blood sugar is high.

You may want to check your blood sugar about 1530 minutes after taking insulin to make sure your blood sugar is going down and that its not dropping too low.

Ask Your Doctor How Often You Should Be Checking Your Blood Sugar

Blood sugar control is crucial when youre living with type 2 diabetes. Dips and spikes can not only make you feel cranky and sluggish, but they can also wreak havoc on your personal health.

The most serious effects of blood sugar swings are a higher risk for diabetes-related health complications such as stroke, heart disease, and nerve damage .

For the record, the American Diabetes Association notes that you have diabetes if one of the following applies to you:

  • Your blood glucose after fasting is 126 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
  • Your blood glucose two hours after eating a meal is 200 mg/dl or higher.
  • Your hemoglobin A1C is 6.5 or higher.

The tricky part is that with type 2 diabetes you may not feel it when blood sugar levels are too high, according to the ADA. It feels different for everyone. Not everyone will have the same symptoms, and some individuals will have no symptoms at all, says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, a Los Angelesbased former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Because blood sugar management is so important to your overall health with type 2 diabetes, you need to take action if you think your levels may be out of control, even if youre feeling totally fine.

Risk Factors For Prediabetes And Diabetes

You have prediabetes if your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to trigger a diagnosis of diabetes. The risk factors for prediabetes and diabetes are the same.

Risk factors include:

Lifestyle factors. Being overweight is a major risk factor for diabetes, especially if your waist size is large. If you smoke, eat an unhealthy diet, or have an inactive lifestyle, your risk goes up.

Demographic factors. If you are over 45, your diabetes risk goes up. Your risk is also greater if you have a close family member with diabetes. Although it’s unknown exactly why, certain people â including those who are Black, Hispanic, Asian-American, or American Indian â are also at a higher risk for developing diabetes.

Related conditions. You have a greater chance of getting diabetes if you have sleep apnea, a condition in which you repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping. Women who had diabetes while pregnant are at an increased risk. So are women with a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Youre Hungrier Than Usual But Losing Weight

Many people with uncontrolled high blood sugar find that theyre hungrier than usual, which signals a symptom called polyphagia, MedlinePlus notes. And although youre eating more, you may be losing weight for no apparent reason if your blood sugar levels are too high, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Since your body is not getting energy from the preferred source, glucose, it has to turn to muscle and fat, Zanini explains. When your body starts breaking down muscle and fat for energy, you experience unintentional and unhealthy weight loss. In addition to these changes in weight and appetite, you may notice weakness in your muscles and experience more frequent falls, Emanuele adds.

For People With Type 1 Diabetes

14 Signs Showing That Your Blood Sugar Is Very High  Info You Should Know
  • Contact your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator for advice about increasing your dose of short acting insulin. You may also need extra doses of this insulin .
  • Test your blood glucose levels frequently, as well as your urine for ketones every time you pass urine.
  • Drink extra water or low calorie fluids to keep up with fluid lost by passing more urine.
  • 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.

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    Food Exercise And Medications Affect Blood

    Too little food, strenuous exercise that burns large amounts of sugar, caffeine or excessive alcohol consumption can cause hypoglycemia. Medications prescribed to treat heart problems or high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme agents, also called ACE inhibitors, may mask symptoms of low blood sugar, reports the University of Michigan Health System. Medications, such as quinolones, antibiotics prescribed to treat urinary tract infections, can cause hypoglycemia, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

    Key Points About Hyperglycaemia

  • Hyperglycaemia occurs when there is too much glucose in your bloodstream.
  • No matter how careful you are, if you have diabetes, you will get hyperglycaemia from time to time.
  • Regularly checking blood glucose levels and recognising and treating hyperglycaemia is an important part of diabetes management.
  • Occasional mild episodes are not usually a cause for concern and can be treated quite easily or return to normal on their own.
  • However, if blood glucose levels stay high for longer periods this can lead to permanent damage to parts of your body, such as your heart, brain, eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
  • If blood glucose levels rise dangerously high this can lead to life-threatening complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state.
  • Seek urgent medical advice if you have high blood glucose and experience the following symptoms:
    • feeling sick or being sick
    • a fever for more than 24 hours
    • signs of dehydration, such as a headache, dry skin and a weak, rapid heartbeat
    • difficulty staying awake.

    These symptoms could be a sign of more serious complications of hyperglycaemia, such as diabetic ketoacidosis or a hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state, and you may need to be looked after in hospital.

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    What Are Risk Factors For Hyperglycemia

    Major risk factors for hyperglycemia are:

    • You have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
    • You are African American, Native American, Hispanic or Asian American.
    • You are overweight.
    • You have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
    • You have polycystic ovarian syndrome .
    • You have a history of gestational diabetes.

    Always Follow Up With The Doctor

    7 Alarming Signs Your Blood Sugar Is Too High

    It is very important to call your doctor as soon as possible after experiencing nocturnal hypoglycemia. The patient and doctor should try to figure out what caused the episode and how to prevent it from happening again.Often the doctor will suggest:

    • Changing the dose or timing of insulin or other medications

    • Setting an alarm for the early morning so that the patient can test their blood glucose levels and determine how often the episodes occur

    • Having the person wear a continuous glucose monitor that checks blood glucose every five minutes with an alarm that wakes the patient from sleep if levels start to drop too low. This option is usually reserved for patients who experience frequent or severe nocturnal hypoglycemia

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    Why Does Blood Sugar Go Up And Down

    When we eat, carbohydrates break down into sugar molecules, including glucose. Glucose fuels our bodies, but it needs to get into the cells to do it. Insulin is a hormone that unlocks the cells so glucose can get in. When insulin doesn’t work as it should, glucose will stay in the blood. This creates high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia.

    Blood sugar can also go too low. This is a condition known as hypoglycemia. This usually happens when you go too long without eating. It can also happen when those with diabetes take too much medication. A few other conditions can cause hypoglycemia, but they are relatively rare. Hyperglycemia and diabetes are much greater problems than hypoglycemia.

    Correcting High Blood Sugar Levels With Insulin

    If you take insulin, one way to reduce blood sugar is to inject insulin.

    However, be careful as insulin can take 4 hours or longer to be fully absorbed, so you need to make sure you take into account how much insulin you may already have in your body that is yet to be absorbed by the blood. Insulin that is yet to be absorbed by the blood is called active insulin.

    If you decide to correct with insulin, watch you dont over correct as this can lead to hypoglycemia and can be dangerous, particularly so before bed.

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    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:

    Different Levels And What They Mean

    Excess Sugar Consumption: Is it Ruining Your Health?

    The ranges of safe levels of blood glucose depend on factors such as what time of day it is and when you last ate. Safe levels of blood sugar are high enough to supply your organs with the sugar they need, but low enough to prevent symptoms of hyperglycemia or complications of diabetes which follow the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases guides. Dangerous levels of blood glucose are outside of this range.

    The target levels can also vary if you have diabetes. For example, if you are diabetic and are monitoring your blood sugar, you might get a reading of 65 mg/dl. That is considered to be mild hypoglycemia, and you would be wise to eat 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates and retest your blood sugar in 15 minutes.

    If you were not diabetic, you probably would not know that your sugar was low because you would not test and because you would not symptoms, and you would not act.

    That is fine because your body is capable, under normal circumstances, of raising your blood glucose to healthy levels when needed, even if you have not eaten. It is important to keep them in control to help prevent issues like heart disease or nerve damage.

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    How Do I Prevent Hyperglycemia

    • Exercise to help lower blood sugar. Work with your healthcare provider to make a daily activity plan.
    • Follow your meal plan if you have one. Learn how carbohydrates impact your blood sugar, and work with your diabetes care team to find the best meal plan for you.
    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Limit drinking alcohol. Alcohol can raise blood sugar levels, but can also cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. Work with your provider to determine how much is safe to drink.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/11/2020.

    References

    Urgent Advice: Call Your Care Team Immediately Or Get Help From Nhs 111 If:

    You think you have high blood sugar and:

    • you’re feeling sick, being sick or have stomach pain
    • you’re breathing more quickly than usual or your heart is beating faster than usual
    • you feel drowsy or are struggling to stay awake
    • your breath has a fruity smell
    • you feel confused or have difficulty concentrating
    • you have a high level of ketones in your blood or pee

    These could be signs you’re becoming seriously unwell.

    You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

    Page last reviewed: 26 May 2022 Next review due: 26 May 2025

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    Can Sugar Cause High Blood Pressure

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    Can Hyperglycemia Be Treated

    What a High Blood Sugar Feels Like

    Your doctor may recommend a low-impact exercise program as your first line of defense. If youre already following a fitness plan, they may recommend that you increase your overall level of activity.

    Your doctor may also suggest that you eliminate glucose-rich foods from your diet. Its important to maintain a balanced diet and stick to healthy food portions. If you arent sure where to begin, your doctor can refer you to a dietician or nutritionist who can help you establish a diet plan.

    If these changes dont help lower your high blood sugar, your doctor may prescribe medication. If you have diabetes, your doctor may prescribe oral medications or change the amount or type of insulin youve already been prescribed.

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    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.

    What Happens If Your Blood Sugar Is Too High

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    What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis

    When the body doesn’t have enough insulin, glucose stays in the blood and can’t get into the body’s cells to be used for energy. This can happen, for example, when someone skips doses of insulin or when the need for insulin suddenly increases and the doses are not adjusted.

    When the body can’t use glucose for fuel, it starts to use fat. When this happens, chemicals called ketones are released into the blood. Some of these ketones, like extra glucose, pass out of the body through the urine.

    High levels of ketones in the blood can be a problem because they cause the blood to become acidic. Too much acid in the blood throws off the body’s chemical balance and causes the symptoms listed below. In people with diabetes, this problem is called diabetic , or DKA. DKA is a very serious condition that can lead to coma or death if it’s not treated. The good news, though, is that it’s preventable and can be treated.

    DKA happens more often in people with type 1 diabetes, but can sometimes also happen to those with type 2 diabetes.

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