:: Health Conditions - Diabetes
What does hyperglycemia mean
Hyperglycemia caused by the buildup of glucose in the bloodstream.
The two emergency conditions related to high blood sugar are
ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar nonketotic coma. Ketoacidosis
is more commonly associated with Type
1 diabetes, and hyperosmolar nonketotic coma occurs more
commonly in older people with Type
2 diabetes. Hyperosmolar nonketotic coma can occur when
blood sugar levels are high over a prolonged period. Ketoacidosis
can occur when the body must break down fats for energy because
of a lack of insulin. As a result, poisonous acids called
ketones are formed. Both conditions can develop gradually,
but are serious, life-threatening emergencies requiring medical
The symptoms of hyperglycemia are the same as for untreated
diabetes. A number of factors can cause high blood sugar,
including eating too much, taking too little insulin, skipping
your diabetes medication, other medications, or inactivity.
Having an infection or being sick or under stress can also
cause blood sugar to rise. When you are sick, it?s important
to continue taking insulin even if you have trouble eating.
Ask your doctor how to handle sick days.
Ketones are excreted in the urine, and special kits are available
to test the urine for ketones.
Check your urine for ketones if your blood sugar is consistently
over 240 and doesn't come down. Call your doctor whenever
your urine tests positive for ketones or if your blood sugar
is over 300.
Warning Signs of High Blood Sugar
Slow Onset Warning Signs
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Drowsiness, lethargy
- Sugar in urine
- Dry, hot skin
- Lack of appetite
- High levels of ketones in urine
- Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath
- Heavy, labored breathing
- Stupor, unconsciousness
- Call a doctor immediately
- Drink fluids WITHOUT SUGAR, if able to swallow, to prevent
Typical causes of hypoglycemia are too little food, eating
off schedule, skipping a meal, excessive or unanticipated
exercise, and too much insulin. Being aware of such factors
and avoiding them can avert an emergency situation.
Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose
Test your blood sugar often,
especially if you have frequent insulin reactions or if your
blood sugars are unexpectedly high. If you have high blood
sugar in the morning, you may need to test in the middle of
the night in order to adjust insulin.
Tell your health care professional if you experience frequent
insulin reactions or high blood sugars.
When You Exercise
Insulin works more efficiently when you exercise, which may
result in blood sugar that is too low. To prepare for exercise,
eat a slowly absorbed snack such as a cheese or meat sandwich.
For every 30 minutes of anticipated exercise, eat 15 grams
of carbohydrates to cover the increased activity.
Insulin is released more quickly if it is injected into the
arm or leg being exercised. If you are going to exercise using
your legs primarily (i.e., jogging), don't inject into your
thigh. Choose the arm or abdomen instead.
- Diabetic emergencies can arise at any time.
- Always carry a source of fast-acting sugar.
- Always carry or wear a form of medical identification,
such as Medic Alert, indicating that you have diabetes,
what medication you are taking, and the name of your health
- Always test blood sugar before driving or operating heavy
- Tell all teachers, family members, caretakers, co-workers,
etc. about insulin reactions and their treatment.
Awareness of and prompt attention to the warning signs of
low or high blood sugar can avoid a more serious problem.
The information provided here
is not intended to take the place of medical advice. For guidance
on topics discussed, consult your health care professional.
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
7100 Woodbine Ave., Suite 311