Hyperglycemia: Symptoms, causes, and treatments

Hyperglycemia: Symptoms, causes, and treatments

High blood sugar is a leading indicator of diabetes. If a person with diabetes does not manage the sugar levels in their blood, they can develop a severe complication called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

If a person does not get treatment for ketoacidosis, they can fall into a diabetic coma, which a dangerous complication of diabetes.

In this article, we look at how to recognize hyperglycemia, ways to treat it, and possible causes and complications.


Most people will experience an increase in blood sugar levels after eating an unusually large high-glucose meal, but people who experience consistent hyperglycemia may have problems with producing or using insulin.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use glucose for generating energy and functioning normally. When insulin is low or inefficient, diabetes may develop.

There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type I diabetes occurs when the body does not produce insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not use insulin effectively. As a result, glucose remains in the blood and circulates the body.

Overeating and not doing enough exercise can lead to continuously high amounts of sugar in the blood. This can reduce the efficiency of insulin by giving it more glucose than it can process.

These include:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can use excess glucose in the blood. However, if a person with severe hyperglycemia finds ketones in their urine, they should avoid exercise, as this breaks down more fats and might speed up ketoacidosis.
  • Moderating the diet: Eating less during mealtimes and snacking less, as well as focusing on low-sugar foods, helps keep the amount of glucose at a level that the body can handle. A dietitian can help a person adapt their diet in gradual and healthful ways.
  • Altering medications: A doctor may recommend changing the timings or types of medication and insulin a person is taking if they are not reducing blood sugar as they should.

A doctor will often be able to look at a person’s self-monitored results, identify issues, and help individuals find ways to prevent severe spikes occurring.

Medical ID

A person who has hyperglycemia should consider wearing a necklace or bracelet that provides information about their condition, as it might impact on the administration of other treatments.

A medical ID contains essential information, such as whether the individual has diabetes, any allergies, or needs to take insulin.

The information contained in a medical ID can be life-saving in situations where an individual cannot speak themselves, for example after a vehicle accident or if they have severe DKA.


Hyperglycemia is high blood glucose that can occur as a result of insufficient or ineffective insulin and a sedentary lifestyle.

Hormone spikes due to stress and the dawn phenomenon can also lead to periods of hyperglycemia.

Symptoms include frequent urination, intense thirst, and high blood sugar readings during self-monitoring. If a person does not address high blood glucose, they might develop ketoacidosis, a dangerous buildup of waste products that can lead to diabetic coma.

Treatment includes adjustments in diabetes medication, physical exertion, and eating less during meals. Wearing a medical ID is essential for people who have hyperglycemia as this can impact on other treatments.

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