High blood sugar is usually a diabetic medical condition, where the body cannot regulate its own blood sugar levels. A diabetic must take insulin in order to regulate his or her blood sugar, but if you have type 1 diabetes and there is no insulin available, or the wrong amount of insulin is taken, your blood sugar can shoot up. If you have type 2 diabetes and your body is not processing insulin like it should, your blood sugar levels can also rise. Hyperglycemia, or extremely high blood sugar, can occur in both scenarios 1.
Symptoms of Hyperglycemia and Ketoacidosis
If your blood sugar too high, you may start to experience strange symptoms. These symptoms include frequent urination, frequent thirst, high blood glucose levels and high sugar levels in the urine. If you continue to ignore these symptoms without treating them, you could go into a diabetic coma, also known as ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when the body begins to break down fat cells to use as energy instead of glucose. This is a highly dangerous condition. As your body begins to break down the fat cells, it will create a waste product called ketones, which will be released through the urine. Your doctor can test to see if you have ketones in your urine. Other symptoms of ketoacidosis include nausea and vomiting, sweet-smelling breath, dry mouth and shortness of breath.
- If your blood sugar too high, you may start to experience strange symptoms.
- If you continue to ignore these symptoms without treating them, you could go into a diabetic coma, also known as ketoacidosis.
Treating High Blood Sugar Yourself
Normal Blood Sugar Range in Adults
If you have tested your blood sugar and notice that it is high, a quick fix to lower your blood sugar is exercising. If you are experiencing no symptoms of hyperglycemia or ketoacidosis, it is safe to exercise. It is not safe to exercise, however, if you are experiencing ketoacidosis or have ketones in your urine, because exercise can make your blood sugar levels shoot up higher. Ketones generally occur in the urine when blood glucose levels reach about 240 mg/dl. Go to the doctor immediately to have your urine tested if your blood glucose levels are this high. Otherwise, continue testing your blood sugar levels as you do gentle exercise, like jogging or sit-ups, to see if your blood sugar levels are lowering.
- If you have tested your blood sugar and notice that it is high, a quick fix to lower your blood sugar is exercising.
- It is not safe to exercise, however, if you are experiencing ketoacidosis or have ketones in your urine, because exercise can make your blood sugar levels shoot up higher.
Treating High Blood Sugar With a Doctor
If you are taking the right amount of insulin to manage your diabetes, you should not be experiencing hyperglycemia. Your doctor may need to adjust the levels of insulin you take, or if in the case of type 2 diabetes you do not take insulin, manage your diet. Your doctor may suggest you eat less sugary foods, or eat less in general at one time, both of which will lower your blood sugar over time. To address a ketoacidosis emergency, the doctor will execute a saline fluid replacement in the body, usually about 1 liter of fluids in adults. Insulin is then given in small doses every hour, which will lower the blood sugar and in turn, stop ketones from being produced. The patient will usually require a stay in the hospital, but the mortality rate of diabetic ketoacidosis is 5 percent, so in most cases the patient will be able to return home after the correct blood sugar levels have been restored through both insulin and fluid replacement therapy.
- If you are taking the right amount of insulin to manage your diabetes, you should not be experiencing hyperglycemia.
- Your doctor may suggest you eat less sugary foods, or eat less in general at one time, both of which will lower your blood sugar over time.
Normal Blood Sugar Range in Adults
About Dangerous Levels of Blood Sugar
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Signs & Symptoms Hypoglycemia & Hyperglycemia
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Diabetes & Hot Flashes After Eating Breakfast
- MedicineNet.com: Hypoglycemia Causes
- Maahs DM, et. al. Rates of diabetic ketoacidosis: International comparison with 49,859 pediatric patients with type 1 diabetes from England, Wales, the U.S., Austria, and Germany. Diabetes Care. 2015;38(10)1876-1882; doi:10.2337/dc15-0780
- Westerberg DP. Diabetic ketoacidosis: Evaluation and treatment. American Family Physician. 2013;87(5):337-346.
- Lin MV, Bishop G, Benito-Herrero M. Diabetic ketoacidosis in type 2 diabetics: a novel presentation of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. J Gen Intern Med. 2010;25(4):369-373. doi:10.1007/s11606-009-1237-9
- Harvard Health Publishing. Diabetic ketoacidosis: what is it? Updated January, 2019.
- Mays J, et. al. An evaluation of recurrent diabetic ketoacidosis, fragmentation of care, and mortality across Chicago, Illinois. Diabetes Care. 2016;39(10)1671-1676. doi:10.2337/dc16-0668
Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.