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What Happens If Blood Sugar Is Too High


Nausea Vomiting Confusion And More

What Happens When Your Blood Sugar Is Too High

These seemingly disparate symptoms are all signs of a rare and life-threatening state called diabetic ketoacidosis , according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. DKA can cause the symptoms above, as well as stomach pain, trouble breathing, dry or flushed skin, fruity-smelling breath, or difficulty paying attention. It usually occurs in people with type 1 diabetes and is sometimes the first sign they are sick, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. DKA happens when the liver is unable to use the sugar in the blood for energy without insulin and begins to break down body fat into a type of fuel called ketones at such a high rate that they become toxic and make the blood acidic, the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains. DKA can be fatal if left untreated, so anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek care immediately.

Over time, untreated high blood sugar can cause additional symptoms, such as:

What Is The Normal Level For Your Blood Sugar

To ensure that your body is at its best, you do need to maintain your blood sugar levels at the normal range.

It goes without saying that if you have diabetes, you do need to be highly aware of what your blood sugar levels are. The healthy range for your blood sugar level, before you eat is 90-130 mg/dL. Once an hour or 2 has passed, it should be less than 180 mg/dL.


Sometimes your blood sugar level will suddenly rise. This could be triggered by:

  • A large and heavy meal
  • Lack of exercise or any physical activity
  • If youve neglected to take a dose of your diabetes medication
  • Stress both at work and at home

What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Coma

The following symptoms are your bodys warning signs that your blood sugar is too high or too low.

Whenever you have these symptoms, check your blood sugar. If it is too high or too low, treat it according to your healthcare providers instructions to prevent a diabetic coma. If you have had diabetes for a long time, you may fall into a coma without showing any of the symptoms.

Some symptoms of hyperglycemia are:

  • Tiredness.
  • Taking too much insulin.

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Symptoms When Your Blood Sugar Levels Are Too High

Hyperglycemia is difficult to detect if you dont pay close enough attention, but there are always symptoms. The best thing to do is to have a medical examination every 6 months in order to have your doctor monitor any changes occurring in your body.

A blood sugar test is normally very cheap and simple. A small amount of blood will be taken and checked. As for the symptoms you need to watch out for, here is a list:

Headaches And Difficulty Concentrating

16 Symptoms That Indicate Your Blood Sugar Level Is Too ...

Acute hyperglycemia can cause headaches and difficulty concentrating in a fashion similar to polyphagia in which starving cells send out hunger signals because they cant access the glucose circulating in the blood.

Your brain is the biggest glucose hog around. If you dont believe it, consider that while the brain represents about 2 percent of your body weight, it devours fully 25 percent of the glucose you consume. And when brain cells have difficulty getting the fuel they need, they function poorly. This can cause problems with thinking, reasoning, and remembering, difficulty staying focused on tasks, and headaches.

Chronic high blood glucose can also lead to headaches, but by a different route. These headaches are often related to various types of nerve damage. Examples include occipital neuropathy, or damage to the optic nerve from elevated glucose levels, and a variety of diabetic mononeuropathies, which can affect specific cranial nerves, peripheral nerves, or nerve roots all of which can lead to headaches of varying intensities.


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Consider A Low Gi Diet For Your Health

A low glycemic diet means choosing foods that have a low rating on the glycemic index. This diet includes foods such as fruit, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Foods that have no GI value can also be included. Foods such as meat, seafood, poultry, herbs, seeds, nuts and oils all have an extremely low, or no GI value.

It is best to avoid food that has a high GI rating. They include junk food, beverages that have added sugar, bread, cereals, pastas, rice, starchy vegetables and baked goods.

Symptoms Treatments And Prevention

Hyperglycemia means high glucose in the blood . Your body needs glucose to properly function. Your cells rely on glucose for energy. Hyperglycemia is a defining characteristic of diabetes when the blood glucose level is too high because the body isn’t properly using or doesn’t make the hormone insulin. Over time, hyperglycemia can lead to potentially dangerous complications. Here’s a closer look at this condition, beginning with what glucose is and does in the first place.

Eating too many processed foods may cause your blood sugar to rise.


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Complications Of High Blood Sugar

Diabetes is one of the main causes of high blood sugar levels, but there are other causes that can impact your blood glucose and your risk for hyperglycemia.

Hyperglycemia is the medical term for high blood sugar levels. You can have temporary spikes in blood sugar after eating a large meal or as a result of medication side effects. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels are dangerous and common in those with diabetes. Without treatment, you run the risk of a diabetic coma.

Ketoacidosis is a condition that develops when elevated blood glucose levels go untreated. Without glucose to use for fuel, your body begins to burn fat instead and produces ketones. When there are too many ketones in the blood, it will turn acidic, which can very quickly lead to ketoacidosis, a diabetic coma, and even death.

People without diabetes can develop a similar condition known as ketosis, but they can tolerate a certain level of ketones because inulin is still effectively working.


Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome is another serious complication of high blood sugar. This is more common among individuals with type 2 diabetes and is triggered by an infection or illness.

As a result of the high blood sugar, your body tries to push out the excess glucose by passing it through your urine. Without treatment, this can result in life-threatening dehydration so prompt medical attention would be necessary.

What High Blood Sugar Feels Like

Symptoms of high blood sugar | What Happens When Blood Sugar Is TOO High|

The symptoms can include:

  • Breath that smells like fruit
  • Confusion

These are symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis . Your body burns glucose for energy. When your cells donât get enough of it, they burn fat. That produces chemicals called ketones. When these build up, your blood becomes more acid-like. This can be life-threatening if itâs not treated.

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Moderate To Severe High Blood Sugar

If your blood sugar levels are consistently high , you may have moderate to severe symptoms of high blood sugar. These symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Flushed, hot, dry skin.
  • Restlessness, drowsiness, or difficulty waking up.

If your body produces little or no insulin , you also may have:

  • Rapid, deep breathing.
  • A fast heart rate and a weak pulse.
  • A strong, fruity breath odor.
  • Loss of appetite, belly pain, and/or vomiting.

If your blood sugar levels continue to rise, you may become confused and lethargic. You also may become unconscious if your blood sugar levels are very high.

Current as of: July 28, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff


Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD – Internal Medicine& Adam Husney MD – Family Medicine& Rhonda O’Brien MS, RD, CDE – Certified Diabetes Educator

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.

You Feel Tiredness And Fatigue Constantly

Fatigue and extreme tiredness are symptoms of uncontrolled blood sugar, the ADA says. Simply put, when your body is not processing insulin properly or it doesnt have sufficient amounts of insulin, the sugar is staying in our blood rather than getting into our cells to be used for energy, Zanini says. Also, frequent urination can lead to dehydration, which Bandukwala identifies as another contributing factor to fatigue.

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What If It Goes Untreated

Hyperglycemia can be a serious problem if you don’t treat it, so it’s important to treat as soon as you detect it. If you fail to treat hyperglycemia, a condition called ketoacidosis could occur. Ketoacidosis develops when your body doesn’t have enough insulin. Without insulin, your body can’t use glucose for fuel, so your body breaks down fats to use for energy.

When your body breaks down fats, waste products called ketones are produced. Your body cannot tolerate large amounts of ketones and will try to get rid of them through the urine. Unfortunately, the body cannot release all the ketones and they build up in your blood, which can lead to ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis is life-threatening and needs immediate treatment. Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath

Talk to your doctor about how to handle this condition.

How Glucose Moves In Your Body

Symptoms of high blood sugar

What happens next is that the glucose goes from your digestive system into your bloodstream. But, before it can enter your cells, it needs insulin to help it along. Insulin is the protein that enables the cells in your body to receive the glucose. Without insulin, your bodys cells would starve.


After youve eaten a meal or a snack, your blood sugar concentration will increase. Its the job of your pancreas to release the insulin to move glucose from your blood to the cells.

As each cell receives glucose your blood sugar levels return to normal.

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Normal Blood Sugar Levels In Children

Younger than 6 years oldmg/dL

Bedtime100-140

Adults who are 20 years or older will have blood sugar levels that range between less than 100-180 mg/dL over the course of a day. When you wake up in the morning, your fasting blood sugar should be at its lowest because you havent consumed food for about eight hours. If youre an adult and struggling with glucose control, your healthcare provider can help you develop a treatment plan to manage your blood sugar better.


Blood glucose levels outside the ranges listed above are categorized as either high or low blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are considered high if theyre over 130 mg/dL before a meal or 180 mg/dL within one to two hours after a meal. Many people wont start to experience symptoms from high blood sugar until their levels are at 250 mg/dL or higher. The highest blood sugar level thats considered safe will depend on the person and whether they have diabetes, but will typically be between 160 to 240 mg/dL.

Low Blood Glucose: Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia can occur when blood glucose drops below normal levels or drops too quickly. Your blood glucose level is too low if it is under 70 mg/dL.

Hypoglycemia can be caused by:

  • A combination of these factors
  • Being more active than usual
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating at the wrong time for the medications you take
  • Skipping or not finishing meals or snacks
  • Taking too much diabetes medication

You can have hypoglycemia without any symptoms. That makes it important to check your blood glucose levels regularly. When hypoglycemia does cause symptoms, they can include:

  • Being sweaty

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Planning For Sick Days

Your body releases stress hormones when you are sick, which can cause hyperglycemia. Keep taking your insulin and other diabetes medications, even if you are throwing up. If you have ketones and your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dL, call your doctor. They might also want you to call if:

  • You have diarrhea that lasts more than 6 hours
  • You are throwing up
  • You have a high fever or trouble breathing
  • You feel very sleepy or confused

Continue checking your blood sugar levels and keep track of the results.

What Happens If Blood Sugar Is Too High For Too Long

9 Signs Your Blood Sugar Is Too High

High blood sugar levels have symptoms that include fatigue, headache, blurred vision, frequent urination, and increased thirst or hunger. When these things happen they serve as a warning to check your glucose levels.

When type 1 diabetes is present, it is quite important to treat and recognize hyperglycemia at its onset. If left untreated it can lead to ketoacidosis. This is when there is not enough glucose in the body so the cells use ketones as a source of energy. Ketoacidosis is diagnosed when the ketones build up in the blood. This can become serious, leading to a diabetic coma or death.

Symptoms of ketoacidosis are similar to hyperglycemia but also includes symptoms such as shortness of breath, fruit smelling breath, dry mouth, and high levels of ketones in the urine. Other signs include nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and confusion. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if any of the symptoms are present.


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You Develop Sores That Tend To Heal More Slowly Than Usual

Cuts, scrapes, bruises, and other wounds heal more slowly in the presence of uncontrolled blood sugar, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes causes nerve damage and affects circulation, especially in the lower legs and feet, which can delay healing because there isnt enough blood flow to the area. Even minor wounds are more prone to infections, which can become very serious and even result in amputations of the foot. You may notice drainage seeping onto your socks or an unpleasant smell if you develop a foot ulcer, notes the American Podiatric Medical Association.

How To Check Your Blood Sugar Levels

As Dr. Emanuele says, glucose monitoring can be an important tool to help you get your blood sugar under control. Typically, you would do it yourself using a glucose meter or glucometer, which analyzes a drop of blood that you draw by sticking your finger with a lancet and placing the blood on a disposable test strip that you insert into the meter. Your blood sugar goals are set by you and your doctor, but blood glucose for an adult without diabetes is below 100 mg/dl before meals and at fasting and less than 140 mg/dl two hours after a meal, notes the ADA.

Some people will check their blood sugar daily or multiple times a day, sometimes using a continuous monitor that is worn on the body particularly those who have type 1 diabetes or who have type 2 but take insulin. Yet how frequently a person should monitor their blood sugar is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to whether theyre on insulin, whether they’re taking oral medication, and how well their blood sugar is controlled and how old they are.

Meanwhile, keep an eye out for these nine key warning signs and symptoms that blood sugar is too high and talk to your doctor about whether you need to adjust your management plan.

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How To Test For Ketones

You can use a urine test strip or blood ketone meter and ketone test strip to test for ketones at home. Testing either urine or blood is important, but when possible, a blood test is preferred because it gives you and your care team more precise information about your ketone levels. Because urine may have been in the bladder for some time, the results from these tests may show levels that are either higher or lower than the ketone levels that are actually circulating in your body. It is also very important to know that urine test trips degrade over time, so if you are using this method, you need to look at expiration dates carefully.

Your diabetes care team can give you specific directions about when you should check for ketones, but in general, you should check for them when your blood glucose is 240 mg/dL or higher. You should also check for ketones if you notice any of the DKA symptoms listed above or if you are sick it is possible to have ketones while your blood glucose levels are within range .

At-home urine test strips will change color to show the level of ketones in the urine. They typically report results as negative, trace, small, moderate or large. Blood ketone meters will provide a number that indicates the ketone levels. The following ranges are generally used:

Stick To Your Medication And Insulin Regimen

The Effects of Low Blood Sugar on Your Body

Skipping a dose of medication or insulin can be harmful to your body and increase your blood sugar levels.

Its important to stick to your treatment plan and follow your doctors instructions for taking your medication.

Summary

Healthful lifestyle habits can help people manage their blood sugar levels over the long term, such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, staying hydrated, and getting good sleep.

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What Is A Diabetic Coma

Diabetic coma is a life-threatening emergency that can happen to you if you have diabetes. In a diabetic coma, youre unconscious and unable to respond to your environment. Youre either suffering from high blood glucose or low blood glucose . You need immediate medical attention if you go into a diabetic coma.

Blood Sugar Spike Causes

Blood sugar levels fluctuate all day long. When you eat food, particularly those foods that are high in carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, or pasta, your blood sugar will immediately begin to rise.

If your blood sugar is consistently high, you need to talk to your doctor about improving your diabetes management. Blood sugar rises when:

  • youre not taking enough insulin
  • your insulin isnt lasting as long as you think it is
  • youre not taking your oral diabetes medication
  • your medication dosage needs adjusting
  • youre using expired insulin
  • youre not following your nutritional plan
  • you have an illness or infection
  • youre using certain medications, like steroids
  • youre under physical stress, such as an injury or surgery
  • youre under emotional stress, such as trouble at work or home or with money problems

If your blood sugar is usually well-controlled, but youre experiencing unexplained blood sugar spikes, there might be a more acute cause.

Try keeping a record of all the food and drinks you consume. Check your blood sugar levels according to your doctors recommendations.

Its common to record your blood sugar reading first thing in the morning, before youve eaten, and then again two hours after eating. Even a few days of recorded information can help you and your doctor discover whats causing your blood sugar spikes.

Common culprits include:

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