High Blood Sugar Symptoms & Treatment Options | Cornerstones4Care®

High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)

High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, happens when there is too much sugar in your blood. High blood sugar may affect people whether their diabetes is well controlled or not. In people whose diabetes is not well controlled, episodes of high blood sugar may happen because they are not treating their diabetes. Or they may not even know that they have diabetes. If left untreated, high blood sugar can cause serious health problems.

Breaking Down Diabetes - Ep. 6: Diabetes Management

Meet the members of your diabetes care team and learn the 4 basics of diabetes care.

High blood sugar can happen if you:

  • Skip a dose of diabetes medicine
  • Eat more than usual
  • Are less active than usual
  • Are under stress or are sick

If your blood sugar is too high, you may:

  • Feel very thirsty or hungry
  • Need to pass urine more than usual
  • Feel like your mouth and skin are dry
  • Have blurry vision
  • Feel sleepy
  • Notice that sores and wounds are healing slower than usual
  • Have unexplained weight loss

 

High blood sugar and DKA

High blood sugar can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA. DKA is mainly a problem for people with type 1 diabetes. But it may also happen to people with type 2 diabetes. DKA occurs when there is a buildup of ketones (acids) in the blood. Ketones are made when your body uses fat for energy instead of sugar. This can happen when you don’t have enough insulin and sugar is not getting into your cells to be used for energy. Ask your diabetes care team how and when you should check for ketones.

Regular checks of your urine or blood for ketones can help prevent this serious problem. Ketones in your urine or blood are a sign that your blood sugar is too high and you do not have enough insulin to help the sugar enter the cells of your body.

What to do about high blood sugar

If you have signs or symptoms of high blood sugar (higher than 140 mg/dL before a meal or higher than 180 mg/dL over 2 hours after a meal), check your blood sugar using your meter and follow these steps:

  • Drink plenty of water or sugar-free fluid. Try to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
  • Check your blood sugar more often, for example, before meals, at bedtime, and occasionally 2 hours after a meal
  • Look for patterns in the times and causes of high blood sugar readings
  • Always follow the advice of your health care provider

If your blood sugar is higher than usual, you can help lower it if you:

  • Follow your meal plan
  • Follow the activity plan you have discussed with your diabetes care team
  • Take your medicine at the right time

 

Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic syndrome

Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic syndrome, or HHS, is a severe condition that usually happens in people with type 2 diabetes. If you have HHS, high blood sugar levels cause an unusual increase in urination that can lead to dehydration. If your blood sugar levels are running high, but you don’t know why, you may need medical attention. Speak with your health care provider to find out what blood sugar levels and symptoms are associated with HHS and when you should call someone from your diabetes care team if you experience them.

 

Call your health care provider if:

  • Your blood sugar goes above your goal for more than 2 test results and you feel ill, have a fever, feel sick to your stomach, are vomiting, or are scheduled to have surgery or have recently had surgery
  • You have type 1 diabetes, a blood sugar higher than 250 mg/dL, and ketones
  • You have any questions about what blood sugar levels are too low or too high

Have you signed up for the Diabetes Health Coach?

Download and print this useful High Blood Sugar Fact Sheet.

Fact sheet also available in Spanish