Hypoglycemia is a well-known disorder relating to low glucose (blood sugar) level and diabetes. Hypoglycemia’s opposite, hyperglycemia is a less known disorder relating to high blood sugar. It can be just and hazardous. If untreated, this malady can damage kidneys, eyes, heart, nerves and other organs.


Hypoglycemia is a condition with low blood sugar and hyperglycemia is a disease with high glucose, or high blood sugar levels in the blood. According to the American Diabetes Association a consistent level of 120 to 126 milligrams per deciliter, mg/dL, is considered hyperglycemic. Those with constant levels about and above 126 are considered to be diabetic. If not treated, blood glucose levels above 126 can cause organ damage and severe illness. Patients with blood sugar disorders measure these levels with a blood glucose meter.

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Insulin, Blood Sugar and Glucose

Blood sugar, glucose, is the primary way the body produces energy. Food breaks down and is converted to glucose. Muscles, organs and other bodily functions access the blood to use glucose for energy. The pancreas manufactures the hormone insulin which converts the glucose into energy. If the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, an excess amount of blood sugar remains in the blood. If the amount of glucose is too high, it will damage the body’s organs.


Causes of Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia can be caused by diet. Carbohydrates turn into sugar. A person with hyperglycemia isn’t able to process these sugars adequately which elevates glucose levels. Everyone’s blood sugar levels change over time, but diabetics aren’t able to handle the changes quickly enough.

The body uses insulin to break glucose down. If the pancreas isn’t regulating insulin production properly, the glucose levels won’t be in balance.

Stress can be a factor to make hyperglycemia worse. Illness, surgery and medications can affect glucose levels.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is the condition where the fasting blood sugar level is above 130 mg/dL after an 8 hour fast. The possible onset of diabetes may be the cause if there isn’t an obvious reason for hyperglycemia. Diabetes mellitus is classified as type I or type II. Type I is childhood onset diabetes. Type II is diabetes that might be controllable with diet and exercise.

Signs of Hyperglycemia

These symptoms are similar to hypoglycemia. They include extreme thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, nightly urination, increased appetite, weight loss, dizziness when standing, vision blurs, fatigue, tingling in feet, wounds slow to heal and dry skin. When hyperglycemia severity increases these symptoms become more severe. If not controlled these additional symptoms may appear such as dizziness when standing, hard to breathe, an increase in drowsiness and fatigue. If the condition is untreated, the glucose imbalance could lead to a coma.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic Ketoacidosis happens when the body isn’t able to break down glucose. If there isn’t enough insulin to do this it will start breaking down fat. Ketones are a byproduct of this process. If this condition continues for 2 or 3 days ketones appear in urine with some left in blood. Hydration and insulin remove them. Symptoms are nausea, vomiting, headache and fatigue. The end result of diabetic ketoacidosis is a diabetic coma. Testing urine for these sugars is one of the ways to identify this problem. If this condition exists, is a serious problem and should be given immediate attention by a doctor.

Management of Hyperglycemia

Checking blood glucose levels is necessary to control acute hyperglycemia. Exercise and diet are ways to control the disease. If the ketones rise above 240 mg/dL, don’t exercise. Exercise with ketones at this level causes them to go higher. Sometimes, reducing the amount of food intake will reduce the glucose levels. The recommended diet is high soluble fiber, low in saturated fat and sugar. As with any diabetic condition, the diet should be discussed with a personal physician.

Effects Of Hyperglycemia

It’s normal for blood sugar to be elevated after a meal. These blood sugar levels can reach 180 mg/dL 1 to 2 hours after a meal. If this is a consistent occurrence, the risk of developing diabetes is significant. Consistently elevated high post-meal blood sugar levels can be an indicator that a person has or is at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia and diabetes are all interrelated. They all require a good blood sugar level. Hypoglycemia requires one to be aware of signs of low blood sugar, and hyperglycemia to be aware of a high blood sugar level. These conditions can be severe and require medical attention if there are indications that a person has any of these conditions.