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High blood sugar in diabetes occurs when the sugar (glucose) level in the blood rises above normal. It is also called hyperglycemia. When you have diabetes, high blood sugar may be caused by not getting enough insulin or missing your diabetes medicine. It may also be caused by eating too much food, skipping exercise, or being ill or stressed.
Unlike low blood sugar, high blood sugar usually happens slowly over hours or days. Blood sugar levels above your target range may make you feel tired and thirsty. If your blood sugar keeps rising, your kidneys will make more urine and you can get dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include being thirstier than usual and having darker urine than usual. Without treatment, severe dehydration can be life-threatening. Over time, high blood sugar can damage the eyes, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerves.
Watch for symptoms of high blood sugar. Symptoms include feeling very tired or thirsty and urinating more often than usual. As long as you notice the symptoms, you will probably have time to treat high blood sugar so that you can prevent an emergency. Three things can help you prevent high blood sugar problems:
Infections that aren't treated (such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and skin infections) can raise your risk for a high blood sugar emergency.
The best way to prevent high blood sugar emergencies is to treat high blood sugar as soon as you have symptoms or when your blood sugar is well above your target range (for example, 200 mg/dL or higher).
If your blood sugar levels are above your target range, drink extra liquids. This helps replace the fluids lost through your urine. Water and sugar-free drinks are best. Avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and soda pop. And avoid other drinks that have a lot of sugar, such as fruit juice.
Other Works ConsultedBolen S, et al. (2016). Diabetes medications for adults with type 2 diabetes: An update. Comparative Effectiveness Reviews, No. 173 (AHRQ Publication No. 16-EHC013-EF). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. https://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/ehc/products/607/2215/diabetes-update-2016-report.pdf. Accessed April 25, 2016.Inzucchi SE, et al. (2015). Management of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes, 2015: A patient-centered approach: Update to a position statement of the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 38(1): 140-149. DOI: 10.2337/dc14-2441. Accessed February 18, 2015.Kitabchi AE, et al. (2009). Hyperglycemic crises in adult patients with diabetes. Diabetes Care, 32(7): 1335-1343.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Current as ofMarch 13, 2017
Current as of: March 13, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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