Hyperglycemia is often a word diabetics have to familiarize themselves with. Simply stated, hyperglycemia is a condition characterized with high glucose levels in the blood plasma. Glucose levels are generally described with the units of milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), although more and more scientists and doctors are moving toward using mill moles per liter (mm/l). Hyperglycemia is diagnosed according to various standards; the defining characteristic of all them being a glucose level of about 180 mg/dl – 200 mg/dl.
Generally, in a non-diabetic, glucose levels can rise because of several reasons, but this temporary hyperglycemia is almost always benign. Even diabetics can experience elevated sugar levels which are not problematic; it is only when the glucose levels are consistently that one needs to worry about hyperglycemia and think of it as a serious condition. Hyperglycemia, often when mild, is not attended to by many diabetics owing to imperceptible symptoms; which ought to be a cause of concern owing to it inherent risk and implications.
Since even slightly above normal glucose levels fail to produce symptoms and yet cause long-term damage to organs like kidneys, eyes and damage to nervous system, feet and legs, it is necessary that self-monitoring be done carefully by the diabetic. In the case where diabetes is usually uncontrolled, acute hyperglycemia can lead to severe complications and an emergency, for instance, extreme and rapid fluid floss; during which the patient must be hospitalized. With type I diabetes, hyperglycemia in many cases leads to ketoacidosis and with type II diabetes, it is seen to be associated with a serious condition called HHNS.
How Hyperglycemia ensues. . .
Digestion involves the breaking down of carbohydrates; and glucose is the primary carbohydrate used by the body for energy. The rise of glucose in the bloodstream is automatically followed by an increase in insulin secretion by the pancreas. The diabetic’s case involves a failure to produce insulin, or the failure of unlocking the cells for glucose-transit by the insulin. The resultant increase in glucose levels which goes unchecked is hyperglycemia, in essence.
Signs and Symptoms
As for the symptoms, you should always act in the awareness that any of the slight changes that are seemingly usual could be hyperglycemia. Talk to your diabetes specialist if you have been lately experiencing and observing some of these early signs:
- Concentration problems; you aren’t able to focus enough.
- Frequent urination. (Although as a diabetic this is normal, but any change such as an increase in the frequency should be reported)
- Increased thirst
- Headaches and blurred vision
Hyperglycemia at a chronic level is never benign; and you can prevent substantial damage by being prompt in taking medical assistance. Late symptoms of hyperglycemia involve the following:
- Vomiting, nausea
- Intense abdominal pain
- Fruit smelling breadth.
Hyperglycemia or excessive blood sugar is usually caused as a consequence of diabetes. In fact, it is the hallmark of diabetes; and results from low insulin in Type I diabetes and insulin resistance in Type II diabetes. It is owing to the normal functions in the body that glucose in the blood gets converted to glycogen; when this mechanism fails, glucose levels rise as an effect. The body usually maintains a limited amount of glucose in the blood; an amount that is enough to provide energy for 30 minutes. Excessive glucose actuates hyperglycemia, and Diabetics with type II diabetes, particularly those who are on oral medication, might experience hunger to a considerable extent, without developing mild or severe symptoms of hyperglycemia. This is why oral medication is troublesome to manage–because of the hunger response that is prompted by low glucose levels, which are a result of taking too much or the normal amount of insulin.
As a diabetic, however, severe hyperglycemia could be an upshot of various factors and reasons, for example:
- You missed out on your insulin medication, or didn’t take the right amount of insulin.
- It is just not insulin, but sudden changes in your diet, like skipping meals can also be a risk factor.
- You exercised less than you usually do; or have been doing so since quite some time.
- You are dealing with unusually stressful times.
- You had an infection or an illness which affected for you for a long duration.
The risk of hyperglycemia also increases for those non-diabetics who have been taking certain drugs like protease inhibitors, octreotide, beta blockers, etc.
The treatment of hyperglycemia involves a strict insulin medication plan and diet, and other such changes which are basically aimed at improving glucose levels. Severe treatment generally involves fluid replacement, insulin therapy and electrolyte replacement.
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