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Hyperglycemia

What is Hyperglycemia ?

Hyperglycemia comes from the Greek words “hyper" or a high state, “glykys" or sweets and “haemia" or blood. This medical condition refers to the abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood. This is a result of the body’s inability to produce enough insulin to utilize or store glucose. Diabetic patients are unable to produce enough insulin because of a dysfunctional pancreas.

What is Fasting Hyperglycemia ?

This is a medical condition wherein a patient is diagnosed with elevated blood sugar levels after 8 hours of fasting. Normal blood sugar levels are within 90—130 mg/dl, when patients are diagnosed with hyperglycemia their blood sugar is found to be above these levels.

Patients are asked to fast for 8 hours to check if their bodies are able to regulate blood glucose levels. Glucose serves as energy for body functioning, and is utilized by the cells and converted into energy. Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is also done by storing excess glucose. If a person is found to be suffering from elevated blood sugar levels even after 8 hours of fasting, they are found to be suffering from hyperglycemia or are candidates for diabetes.

After-meal Hyperglycemia

This medical condition is defined as abnormally high blood sugar levels 2 hours after a meal; blood glucose levels are found to be above 180 mg/dl. This is unusually high as normal blood sugar levels drop down to 140 mg/dl levels after meals.

It is not uncommon for people to register high blood sugar levels after eating heavy meals, but this condition is dangerous when patients are found to suffer from consistent high blood sugar levels. Patients found to be suffering from consistent high levels could indicate that they are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

How can Hyperglycemia occur?

Maintaining normal blood glucose levels is important for people suffering from diabetes. Hyperglycemia occurs when diabetes is not managed properly. Here are some factors which can cause episodes of hyperglycemia in diabetic patient:

  • You forgot to take your hypoglycemic medications or insulin. Taking medications at prescribed times is important in helping your body break down glucose and maintaining normal levels. Skipping medications leaves you with insufficient levels of insulin increasing the levels of glucose in blood.
  • You had too much food that the insulin was not enough to control your blood sugar. Doctors prescribe insulin to facilitate the breakdown of glucose and lower blood sugar levels for diabetic patients. Depending on the prescription, patients take specific amounts at different times to control blood sugar levels. If insulin medications are followed, patients may find themselves with high levels of blood sugar because the medication was not sufficient in controlling blood glucose.
  • Too much physical activity forces the body to release glucose. This is done as a result of the body’s increased requirement for energy. Glucose provides the body with energy and insulin breaks this down into materials which the body’s tissues and cell could use. When there is insufficient level of insulin available to transform this glucose, patients are left with elevated blood sugar levels.
  • No exercise leads to higher glucose levels. The body has less energy requirements in a sedentary lifestyle. This means that the glucose contained in your blood is not utilized, leaving patients with hyperglycemia.

Early Signs of Hyperglycemic Episodes

The body can use proteins and fats as a source of energy; the brain, however, only uses glucose as a source of energy. Without sufficient levels of insulin the brain is unable to use this energy source, and normal brain function is affected. Patients with hyperglycemia may also suffer from difficulties with vision, as blood circulation in the eyes is affected.

  • Thirstier than usual
  • Weakness
  • Urinating more than usual
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Blurring of vision

Long-term Effects of Hyperglycemia

  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Decreased vision
  • Sensory destruction
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Skin infections

Managing Hyperglycemic Episodes

While it is important that you recognize the early signs of hyperglycemia, testing your daily blood sugar levels daily is the most important thing to remember. When you find readings to be consistently high, always remember to consult your doctor as this may be early symptoms of hyperglycemia.

  • Increase water intake. Thirst is a normal reaction that helps in getting rid of excess blood sugar through urination and to keeps you hydrated.
  • Exercise. Physical activities help in decreasing the levels of glucose as this is transformed into energy which your body can use. However, if your blood glucose is beyond 240 mg/dL with ketones in your urine, do not exercise. If you have type 2 diabetes and blood levels go beyond 300 mg/dL, discontinue physical activities.
  • Follow your recommended diet. You should not ignore what your nutritionist has given you as a guide. It will dramatically help you control your hyperglycemic episodes.
  • Consult your health care provider. Adjusting medications by yourself is never recommended. Only a doctor can do this, and if necessary, he may change your prescription and dosage.

What can happen if Hyperglycemia is ignored?

When hyperglycemia is not treated immediately, patients may go into coma as a result of ketoacidosis. This results when fats and protein are used for energy production producing large amounts of ketones. This is can lead to dangerous medical conditions. Below are signs and symptoms of ketoacidosis:

  • Fruity breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid and deep breathing

Simple steps in managing and avoiding Hyperglycemia

  • Check your diet
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Check your blood glucose regularly
  • Contact your doctor when your blood glucose readings are beyond normal levels

Modern medical science has yet to find a cure for diabetes. However, treating and managing the symptoms associated with diabetes is easy. Lifestyle changes and proper medication is important in managing and avoiding serious medical complications of diabetes. It is also important to remember that diabetics should always wear bracelets or identification cards to inform people that they are suffering from diabetes, and help emergency medical professionals give proper treatment.

written by Ronald Uy, RN

Sources:

What are the Causes of Hyperglycemia? Retrieved December 8, 2009 from LIVESTRONG.COM:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/16476-causes-hyperglycemia/

Living with Diabetes. Retrieved December 8, 2009 from American Diabetes Association:

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hyperglycemia.html

Definition of Hyperglycemia. Retrieved December 8, 2009 from MedicineNet.com:

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=3836

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