Understanding Hyperglycemia

What is Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia is high blood sugar. Hyperglycemia happens when there is not enough insulin (insulin deficiency) in your body or your body is unable to use the insulin it makes (insulin resistance). Everyone needs insulin to live. Insulin helps your cells use glucose (blood sugar) as energy and your body stores extra fuel as fat. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) defines insulin as a hormone or a small protein called a polypeptide (poly-pep-tide), which consists of a chain of small units referred to as amino acids.

Causes of Hyperglycemia

People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes may experience hyperglycemia. For more information on the history of insulin and diabetes types, click on the following link:Definition and Types of Diabetes Mellitus
According to the ADA, factors that cause hyperglycemia may include the following:
• The amount and type of food eaten
• Having too little insulin in the body
• Poor timing of injections
• Inaccurate insulin dosage
• Where you inject insulin
• The amount of insulin absorbed by your body
• Stress
• Illness
• Dawn phenomenon (high blood glucose levels in the early morning)
• Medication
• Drug interactions
• Gestational diabetes

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia

The ADA defines symptoms as “what you feel.” Unfortunately, hyperglycemia is not always easy to detect. This is why frequent blood glucose testing is so important; a high reading may alert you and give you an opportunity to lower your blood glucose level before you experience more serious symptoms.

According to the ADA, symptoms of hyperglycemia may include the following:

• A high blood glucose reading
• High sugar levels in the urine
• Urinating frequently
• Increase in thirst
• Blurred vision

Acute Hyperglycemia

Acute hyperglycemia, also known as Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS), is another potentially life-threatening condition that may happen if your blood glucose levels continue to rise to very high levels. HHNS affects primarily type 2 diabetes patients. Factors such as smoking alcohol, stress, diuretics (water pills), untreated infection and stroke may lead to HHNS. A common cause is undiagnosed diabetes.
Symptoms of HHNS, says the ADA, may include dry mouth; extreme thirst; confusion; sleepiness; and warm, dry skin (without perspiration).
According to the ADA, HHNS can lead to seizures, coma and death and requires immediate emergency care. Drink plenty of decaffeinated fluids, and do not drink alcohol. You also may need insulin injection. Major studies show that diabetes patients who test frequently have better glucose control, and this may help prevent or slow the development of diabetes-related complications.
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