Hyperglycemia – The High Blood Sugar Danger

What is Hyperglycemia

Glucose is the main energy-generating source for our body. All the fruit, milk, potatoes, bread, pizzas, salads, ice cream and even the soups that you have, contain glucose in the form of carbohydrates and fat. The metabolism of the body breaks down these complex compounds into glucose to provide energy for the body.

The body needs insulin to infuse glucose into the bloodstream. Insulin is basically a hormone that is produced in the pancreas. It transports the glucose to the cells, especially the muscle cells.

Diabetes is a condition in which the glucose levels in the blood goes abnormally high and affects the production and function of insulin in the body since they are very much interconnected. People with Type 1 Diabetes have an issue in producing insulin, as a result of which they have to take it as an injection under the skin.

People with Type 2 Diabetes might have enough insulin but the functionality of it is very minimal and not up to the mark. This condition is also termed as insulin resistance. In some cases, they don’t even produce enough insulin required by the body.

Diabetes is a condition that drives the state of Hyperglycemia. This condition arises when the d glucose level is not maintained and is not under control. That means, the medications, usage of insulin and proper meal planning are not done well and this results into Hyperglycemia.

What Is Hyperglycemia?

The etymology of the word Hyperglycemia can be split into three words – ‘hyper’ meaning high, ‘gly’ meaning glucose and ‘emia’ meaning blood. When a diabetic is suffering from this condition, the glucose level goes very high in the bloodstream because the body does not make enough insulin and even if it produces enough of it.

Hyperglycemia occurs chronically in both types of diabetes. The chances of this condition occurring depend upon how the medication and meal plan is managed. 

Most medicinal experts define hyperglycemia by measuring the blood glucose goals that you and your physician have analysed with the help of previous data. This data is then combined in alignment with the goals with the blood glucose target ranges. 

It is essential that you understand you will most likely experience high blood glucose levels every once in a while, in spite of your best attempts to control it. Likewise with any chronic condition, always consult with your physician and diabetes care group if the pattern of your blood glucose readings constantly looks higher or lower than your blood glucose goals. 

A vast majority of people will encounter an increase in blood sugar levels in the case of eating an abnormally huge high-glucose meal, but individuals who experience constant encounters of hyperglycemia may have issues with creating or using insulin properly.

Indulging in overeating and not doing the required amount of exercise can prompt continuously high measures of sugar in the blood. This can lessen the productivity of insulin by giving it more glucose than it can process. 

Stress at work, life, and relationships can likewise release certain hormones that keep glucose at abnormal states in the blood. Recent research measurably connected stress with high blood sugar. 

A sickness, for example, the common flu, can also prompt stress that causes a hike in blood sugar.

Symptoms Of Hyperglycemia

There are a few select symptoms that can be considered to determine the occurrence of Hyperglycemia – 

  • The blood glucose level goes higher than 130 mg/dl even before the consumption of a meal. 
  • The blood glucose level goes higher than 180 mg/dl 2 hours after the consumption of a meal. 
  • The frequent urgency of passing urine
  • Feeling thirsty very often
  • A higher volume of glucose in the urine
  • Headache, blurred vision and fatigue
Symptoms Of Hyperglycemia

These symptoms might not be very visible until the level of blood sugar reaches 250mg/dl. This is because these symptoms are usually not seen in general for people with diabetes. The only way to control this situation is to self-monitor from time to time to catch hold of the glucose levels and control them accordingly when required before the symptoms start to appear.

The Dawn Phenomenon

The Dawn Phenomenon is known for being one of the main causes of hyperglycemia. This occurs in the early hours of the day when a few hormones like epinephrine, cortisol and glucagon make the liver releases glucose into the blood. 

The Dawn Phenomenon can be seen in people with diabetes after 8 to 10 hours after going to sleep.

It is important to note that the Dawn Phenomenon cannot be labelled to any time there are high blood sugar levels in the mornings. Having said that, this phenomenon can also occur as a result of having snacks high in carbohydrates before going to bed or not taking the appropriate amount of the insulin dosage.

The Complications Resulting From Hyperglycemia

Most of the complications in Diabetes are usually the effects of prolonged and chronic occurrences of a prolonged Hyperglycemia. The range of problems arising in diabetics develops because of the consistent high blood sugar level.

Some other complications derived from this condition are – 

Ketoacidosis – Type 1 Diabetes

In the case of people with Type 1 Diabetes, when Hyperglycemia becomes severe, Ketoacidosis has the possibility of taking place. 

The body uses ketones in the case of glucose being completely exploited in order to produce energy. Ketoacidosis is the condition when the concentration of ketones increases drastically in the bloodstream. It is a serious issue which can also lead to diabetic coma or death.

A diabetic with Type 1 Diabetes have to make sure that when Hyperglycemia occurs, proper control is taken of the situation otherwise, it can lead to ketoacidosis when it is left untreated.

The American Diabetes Association quotes that Ketoacidosis generally affects people with Type 1 Diabetes over people with Type 2 Diabetes.

The symptoms of Ketoacidosis is similar to that of Hyperglycemia apart from some extra symptoms that occur due to the more serious tone of this condition.

Nausea, vomiting, confusion in thoughts and stomach pain are peculiar to this condition. Medical attention at an urgent level has to be given when such symptoms occur. 

Regular medications and consultation with the physician are recommended to make sure of the appropriate ketone levels.

Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome

HHNS – Type 2 Diabetes

HHNS or Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome occurs when Hyperglycemia becomes severe in people with Type 2 Diabetes.

This condition is very rare, yet people with the condition should know the symptoms and causes to know how to manage when it occurs. 

HHNS is a condition where the blood glucose levels increase far too much and the condition is that of extreme hyperglycemia. This condition is limited to people with Type 2 Diabetes only. 

Elder people are more prone to this condition when they fall sick. When the person is sick, the blood glucose level begins to increase to such an extent that the body involved in getting rid of excess glucose via frequent urination. This leads to extreme dehydration.

When you are sick it is difficult to rehydrate the body and keep fluids down. This condition also could result in a diabetic coma. 

To avoid HHNS, a close check has to be kept on the blood sugar level when you’re sick. In case there is a slight picture of any of the symptoms, consult your physician for further plan of action.

Similar to Ketoacidosis, HHNS too has similar symptoms of Hyperglycemia with a set of extra ones to distinguish it from it. The blood sugar level in this condition goes up to 600mg/dl which is a very high concentration in the bloodstream. 

The other symptoms include high fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit with sleepiness, dry mouth and vision loss.

Eye Complications

Diabetic retinopathy is another severe concern in people with diabetes. Damages to the blood vessels and at the back of the eye near the retina are very common in this condition which can also lead to vision loss, and later on blindness too.

Consistent high blood pressure increases the risk of cataracts up to sixty per cent and glaucoma by forty per cent in diabetics.

Skin Complications

Skin Complications

Some of the skin conditions arising due to Hyperglycemia, that cause both itching and pain are –

  1. acanthosis nigricans – causes raised brown areas on the groin, neck, and armpits
  2. digital sclerosis – causes thick skin with a waxy texture building up on the backside of the hand
  3. disseminated granuloma annulare – causes ring-shaped or arc-shaped, raised patches on the skin
  4. diabetic blisters – painless and most often build upon the extremities
  5. eruptive xanthomatosis – causes pea-sized, yellow lumps on the skin that have a red ring around the base
  6. diabetic dermopathy – lead to a scaly, light brown oval or circular, patches on the legs
  7. necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum – a complication that causes sometimes painful, a scar-like lesion with a purplish edge

Bacterial and fungal infections also attack the skin during a prolonged Hyperglycemia condition. These infections result in jock itch, athlete’s foot, ringworms and boils. 

Nerve Damage

The high blood sugar levels in this condition can also lead to several circumstances of nerve damages. The following are the types of damages it can cause – 

Autonomic neuropathy – Under this category, important bodily functions like sexual function, digestion and bladder control is affected adversely.

Peripheral neuropathy – Under this category, the limbs of the body are affected with feelings of numbness, weakness or tingling. Regularly checking the damages and injury to the limbs is necessary to spot them at an early stage to avoid further infection.

Other types of neuropathy – Under this category, high blood sugar levels can lead to thoracic, cranial, femoral or focal neuropathy which are generally related to the functioning of the arms, thighs and feet.

Preventing Hyperglycemia 

When you see the above-mentioned symptoms, it is necessary to provide immediate attention of your physician to avoid the extreme conditions of Ketoacidosis and HHNS. In the case of having highly fluctuating blood sugar levels, it is important to take care of food habits, medication and exercise regimes.

Preventing Hyperglycemia

It is also necessary to stay in constant touch with your physician to keep monitoring the glucose levels in your bloodstream to avoid future complications. 

Depending on your requirements, your physician might suggest a different dosage of insulin to manage your glucose levels and keep you away from Hyperglycemia.

Another important thing to make sure you follow a proper diet plan. A close and keen observation of the foods consumed and the nutrients it contains is important to consider. The most priority is given to foods containing sugar and carbohydrates because they form the most amount of sugar in the diets. 

Limiting the usage of alcohol and having a balanced diet rich in fruits, whole grains and vegetables are necessary. A dietician can give the best inputs to formulate this diet.

Another way to keep the sugar levels appropriate is by regular exercise. A healthy amount of physical activity a day can help you keep blood sugar level in the prescribed range. It is also important to not overdo exercise to avoid ketoacidosis.

In conclusion, people with diabetes should keep a track of their eating habits, exercise levels and sugar intake to stay away from Hyperglycemia. It might not seem very dangerous at first but the extremities can lead to adverse conditions of coma or even death.

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