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What are the Common Symptoms of High Blood Glucose?

What are the Common Symptoms of High Blood Glucose?

High blood glucose, medically known as hyperglycemia, occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood. Hyperglycemia usually takes place in the alongside diabetes mellitus, and in most cases, the two terms may be used interchangeably. Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin or has high insulin resistance. Insulin plays a critical role in maintaining blood glucose at a normal level.

Diagnosing Hyperglycemia based on High Sugar Level Symptoms

high blood sugar levels

Hyperglycemia or diabetes mellitus can be diagnosed when you have a fasting blood glucose of more than or equal to 126mg/dl, a random blood glucose of more than or equal to 200mg/dl accompanied by high sugar level symptoms, a 2-h plasma glucose of more than or equal to 200 mg/dl following a 75-g oral glucose challenge in adults, or an HbA1c of less than or equal to 6.5%. On the other hand, impaired glucose tolerance refers to a fasting blood glucose of 100 to 125mg/dl.

There are risk factors that predispose one to acquiring hyperglycemia. Here are some:

  • Obesity
  • Family history of diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia or increased serum lipids
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Identifying Hyperglycemia Through High Sugar Level Symptoms

Hyperglycemia affects various organ systems and can present in a variety of ways. In the beginning, hyperglycemia may be asymptomatic and the patient may not feel any changes in the body. In some cases, symptoms manifest early. Early symptoms of hyperglycemia include the following:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increase in appetite
  • Headache

Long-standing hyperglycemia occurs when the condition is not treated or controlled adequately. This can manifest as:

  • Decrease in visual acuity
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Numbness or tingling sensation especially in the lower extremities
  • Weight loss
  • Skin infections

One life-threatening complication that may arise from uncontrolled hyperglycemia is diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA. What happens in DKA is that your body begins to break down fat to produce energy because there is not enough glucose that goes into your tissues.

This process leads to the accumulation of ketones in the bloodstream, eventually resulting in DKA. DKA is an acute process and often develops within 24 hours.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Ketoacidosis

The first signs and symptoms seen in DKA are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fruity breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Changes in sensorium
  • Disorientation

DKA is considered an emergency and patients presenting with these signs and symptoms must immediately seek medical care. If not promptly treated, DKA can lead to coma and eventually, death.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Kidney Disease

Uncontrolled hyperglycemia can also lead to complications that affect the kidneys, blood vessels, eyes, and peripheral nervous system. For example, diabetic kidney disease or DKD is a common complication that occurs in more than 20% of diabetic patients around 10 years after diabetes is diagnosed.

The earliest signs and symptoms associated with DKD include:

  • Swelling in the feet or ankles
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure

Another complication that may arise in the setting of hyperglycemia is diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the retina. Common symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Decrease in visual acuity
  • Vision loss
  • White patchy spots in the visual field

Hyperglycemia, when left untreated, can also damage the blood vessels, resulting in poor blood flow, especially in the lower extremities. Because of poor circulation, wounds in the feet will take longer to heal, leading to a condition known as diabetic foot.

How can High Sugar Level Symptoms Lead to Diabetic Neuropathy?

Lastly, long-standing hyperglycemia can lead to a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. It is a type of nerve damage that usually affects the nerves in the lower extremities. Diabetic neuropathy can present as numbness or tingling sensation in the feet and ankles.

More than 50% of people with uncontrolled hyperglycemia are at risk of developing diabetic neuropathy.

Luckily, the symptoms and complications associated with hyperglycemia can be prevented through lifestyle modifications and medications.

Here are some tips on controlling hyperglycemia:

  • Avoid foods high in sugar. Following a low-sugar diet will help in maintaining your blood glucose at normal levels.
  • Engage in regular physical activity. Studies have shown that having an active lifestyle helps your body become more sensitive to insulin.
  • Seek medical consult. Once you begin experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, it would be prudent to consult immediately for proper management.
  • Regularly check your blood glucose. Routine monitoring of blood glucose ensures that you are able to keep it within the normal range.

Key Takeaways

Hyperglycemia is a preventable condition that affects various organ systems. When left untreated, hyperglycemia may cause serious adverse effects and complications.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.



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Written by Ira Sagad Updated 3 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Bianchi Mendoza, R.N.