Hyperglycemia, hyperglycaemia, or high blood sugar is a condition in which an excessive amount of glucose circulates in the blood plasma. This is generally a blood glucose level of 10+ mmol/L (180 mg/dl), but symptoms may not start to become noticeable until later numbers like 15-20+ mmol/L (270-360 mg/dl). However, chronic levels exceeding 125 mg/dl can produce organ damage.
Chronic hyperglycemia that persists even in fasting states is most commonly caused by diabetes mellitus, and in fact chronic hyperglycemia is the defining characteristic of the disease.
Postprandial or after-meal hyperglycemia is defined as a blood sugar usually greater than 180 mg/dL. In people without diabetes postprandial or post-meal sugars rarely go over 140 mg/dL but occasionally, after a large meal, a 1-2 hour post-meal glucose level can reach 180 mg/dL. Consistently elevated high post-meal glucose levels can be an indicator that a person is at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
The classic symptoms of hyperglycemia are extreme hunger and thirst as well as frequent urination.
People with hyperglycemia always seem to be hungry and thirsty even if they appear to be eating and drinking enough. Other signs may also be present, such as a dry mouth, cuts that don't heal well, and fatigue. People who exhibit these symptoms can undergo blood and urine tests to determine their blood sugar level and find out if they are hyperglycemic. If hyperglycemia is confirmed, the next step is determining the cause. In most cases, it will be diabetes.
Hyperglycemia that is not controlled can lead to more serious conditions such as a diabetic coma.
A person in a diabetic coma is in an unconscious comatose state because their body could not deal with the extremely high levels of blood sugar associated with hyperglycemia. Thankfully this is easy to treat so if you see someone with hyperglycemia or diabetes who appears to be unconscious, get them to the emergency room immediately for first aid. The treatment in these cases is intravenous fluids to help rehydrate the body as well as insulin to help the blood sugar be processed more effectively. As soon as the blood sugar levels return to normal, the person will regain consciousness. If left untreated, brain damage or death could occur so the best thing to do in these cases is seek medical help right away.
Nerve damage as well as damage to the organs can occur as a result of hyperglycemia.
For this reason, it is important for diabetics to recognize the symptoms of hyperglycemia and treat them accordingly. Hyperglycemic episodes can usually be treated with insulin. Diabetics are usually trained by their doctors on how to control hyperglycemic situations and carry insulin with them for first aid. Exercising, drinking more water, and eating less carbohydrates are other ways to help bring blood sugar levels down. People who experience repeated hyperglycemia may also have their diabetes medication adjusted by their doctor.
It is important to treat the symptoms of hyperglycemia promptly to prevent complications from diabetes.
Hyperglycemia is a serious condition but it is possible to control it. Much is known about this condition and there are medicines and glucose monitors that help keep the risks of emergency low. With proper knowledge of the symptoms and first aid treatment, hyperglycemia can be managed quite well.