Hyperglycemia is a term referring to high blood glucose levels - the condition that often leads to a diagnosis of diabetes.
High blood glucose levels are the defining feature of diabetes, but once the disease is diagnosed, hyperglycemia is a signal of poor control over the condition.
Hyperglycemia is defined by certain high levels of blood glucose:1
Chronic hyperglycemia usually leads to the development of diabetic complications.2
The most common symptoms of diabetes itself are related to hyperglycemia - the classic symptoms of frequent urination and thirst.2,3
Typical signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia that has been confirmed by blood glucose measurement include:1,3,4
Hyperglycemia often leads to the diagnosis of diabetes. For people already diagnosed and treated for diabetes, however, poor control over blood sugar levels leads to the condition. Causes of this include:1,3,4
The video below from Diabetes UK explains the dawn phenomenon and offers practical tips.
Prevention of hyperglycemia for people with a diabetes diagnosis is a matter of good self-monitoring and management of blood glucose levels, including adherence to insulin regimes if necessary.4
For someone who has not been diagnosed with diabetes, symptoms of hyperglycemia need to be reported to a doctor so that they can test for diabetes - other conditions can also lead to hyperglycemia.4
Control of high blood sugar is important to prevent complications caused by chronic hyperglycemia. A doctor may need to review the treatment plan for a diabetes patient who becomes hyperglycemic and they may decide to take one of the following actions: 4
It is important to attend to hyperglycemia since it can lead to a dangerous complication known as ketoacidosis that can result in coma and even death. Ketoacidosis rarely occurs in type 2 diabetes, typically occurring in cases of type 1 diabetes.3
High levels of glucose in the blood mean that insufficient levels of glucose are available to cells for their energy needs. As a result, the body resorts to breaking down fat so that energy is derived from fatty acids. This breakdown produces ketones, leading to higher acidity of the blood.2,3
Diabetic ketoacidosis requires urgent medical attention and, alongside hyperglycemia and its symptoms, is signaled by:2,4
Hospital treatment of ketoacidosis includes the administering of intravenous fluids and insulin.2
Disclaimer: This informational section on Medical News Today is regularly reviewed and updated, and provided for general information purposes only. The materials contained within this guide do not constitute medical or pharmaceutical advice, which should be sought from qualified medical and pharmaceutical advisers.
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