What is Hyperglycemia? A Guide

Sep 07, 2023

Maintaining favorable blood sugar levels is critical for overall well-being, especially for diabetics.

Hyperglycemia, often known as high blood sugar, is a condition in which the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood exceeds the usual range. This phenomenon can be caused by a variety of factors such as food, physical activity, medicine, and overall health. 

Understanding Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia is a medical disorder marked by elevated blood glucose levels. The disease is caused mostly by considerably reduced blood insulin levels or impaired insulin activity.

It occurs when the body's cells are unable to absorb glucose from the bloodstream adequately, resulting in a buildup of sugar in the blood. Chronic hyperglycemia, if unchecked, can lead to diabetes complications such as nerve damage, eye disease, and kidney disease.

Related: Link Between Diabetes and Heart Disease

What Is Blood Sugar?

Your diet's carbohydrates provide the majority of the glucose, or sugar, that you ingest. It is the primary source of energy for your body. All of the cells in your body receive glucose from your blood to utilize as fuel.

If you do not have diabetes, your blood glucose is normally maintained within a healthy range by a number of biological processes. The most important hormone your pancreas produces that helps to keep your blood sugar levels in check is insulin.

Causes of Hyperglycemia

Causes of Hyperglycemia

1. Insufficient Insulin:

Insulin, a hormone required for delivering glucose into cells, is not produced by the pancreas in sufficient amounts in individuals with type 1 diabetes. Cells, therefore, find it challenging to use glucose when you have type 2 diabetes because of the body's resistance to the effects of insulin.

2. Diet and Lifestyle Choices:

Blood sugar levels may briefly surge if sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods are consumed in excess. An unhealthy lifestyle and minimal physical activity might make the issue worse. Therefore it is important to not only maintain a good dietary check but also stay active, especially for seniors.

3. Stress and Illness:

Stress hormones can be released in response to both physical and emotional stress, and this can impair insulin's capacity to control blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels can also rise as a result of illness and infections.

4. Medications:

As a side effect, some drugs, including corticosteroids and some antipsychotics, can raise blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia can be defined as blood glucose levels above 125 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) during fasting (without eating for at least eight hours) in individuals without a diabetes diagnosis.

A blood glucose level of more than 180 mg/dL one to two hours after eating is typically regarded as hyperglycemia in a diabetic.


Identifying the symptoms of hyperglycemia is important for early intervention and treatment.

Common symptoms include:

  • Frequent Urination
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred Vision
  • Slow Healing
  • Increased Hunger
  • Weight Loss

Complications of Hyperglycemia

Extended durations of high blood sugar levels might have detrimental effects on one's health.

Some potential complications include:

  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), which is a life-threatening condition leading to the accumulation of acidic ketones in the blood.
  • Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State (HHS) is a severe condition that primarily affects individuals with type 2 diabetes and is characterized by extreme dehydration and high blood sugar levels.
  • Cardiovascular Issues such as the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Prolonged high blood sugar levels can lead to Nerve Damage (Neuropathy) causing pain, numbness, and tingling, usually in the extremities.
  • Elevated blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, causing Kidney Damage (Nephropathy) and impairing their function over time.
  • Hyperglycemia can lead to diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the blood vessels in the eyes and can result in vision loss.

Managing Hyperglycemia

If you're experiencing high blood sugar levels or have been diagnosed with diabetes, consider the following strategies:

  1. Monitor Blood Sugar Regularly: It's important to monitor your blood sugar levels in order to comprehend how your body reacts to various foods, activities, and medications.
  2. Healthy Eating Habits: Prioritize eating a well-balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. Eat less or stay away from processed carb and sugar-filled foods.
  3. Regular Physical Activity: Maintain a regular exercise schedule to improve glucose absorption by making your cells more sensitive to insulin.
  4. Medication and Insulin: To help control blood sugar levels, take your prescription drugs or insulin as suggested by your doctor.
  5. Stress Management: Adopt stress-reduction methods like yoga, deep breathing, or meditation to help stop blood sugar rises brought on by stress.
  6. Stay Hydrated: Consuming copious amounts of water helps in averting dehydration, which may worsen hyperglycemia.
  7. Weight Management: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can improve insulin sensitivity and overall blood sugar control.
  8. Regular Medical Check-ups: Regular visits to your healthcare provider are crucial for monitoring your diabetes management and addressing any concerns promptly.

When to Seek Medical Help

If you're experiencing severe symptoms of hyperglycemia, such as confusion, extreme thirst, rapid breathing, or fruity-smelling breath, seek medical attention from a general practitioner immediately , as these could be signs of a potentially life-threatening condition.

Hyperglycemia is a serious condition that requires careful management to prevent complications and maintain good health. Connect with Access Health Care Physicians to learn more about managing this condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

The main cause of hyperglycemia is an excess of blood sugar in your body.

Readings over 7.8 mmol/l (140 mg/dl) is considered hyperglycemia.

Adding more rapid-acting insulin or making adjustments to your insulin prescription can help manage hyperglycemia. An additional dose of insulin is called a supplement, and it is used to help temporarily lower elevated blood sugar.

A reading of 250 mg/dL or higher is considered to be extremely dangerous.