Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Quick GuideBlood Sugar Swings: Tips for Managing Diabetes & Glucose Levels

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What are the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia?

In addition to having elevated levels of glucose in the blood, people with hyperglycemia often have glucose detected in their urine (glycosuria). Ordinarily urine contains no glucose as it is all reabsorbed by the kidneys.

The main symptoms of hyperglycemia are increased thirst and a frequent need to urinate. Other symptoms that can occur with hyperglycemia are headaches, tiredness, blurred vision, hunger, and trouble with thinking or concentrating.

Severely elevated glucose levels can result in a medical emergency ("diabetic coma"). This can occur in both people with type 1 and those with type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes may develop diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), and those with type 2 diabetes can develop hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS, also referred to as hyperglycemi hyperosmolar state). These so-called hyperglycemia crises are serious conditions that can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Hyperglycemic crises cause about 2,400 deaths each year in the U.S.

Over time, hyperglycemia can lead to damage to organs and tissues. Long-term hyperglycemia can impair the immune response, leading to poor healing of cuts and wounds. It can also cause nerve damage, vision problems, anddamage to the blood vessels and kidneys (see below).

Reviewed on 10/7/2016
References
Medically reviewed by John A. Seibel, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with a subspecialty in Endocrinology & Metabolism

REFERENCES:

CDC.gov. Diabetes.

American Diabetes Association.

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