Hyperglycemia is a disease, in which a person has a high blood sugar (blood glucose). This is because the body produces too little insulin or cannot properly use insulin. The blood sugar fluctuates slightly throughout the day. This depends on a number of factors. Hyperglycemia occurs mainly in people with diabetes mellitus.
Blood sugar is well controlled in the body, mainly because the brains need a lot of glucose. A constant blood sugar is important and too many fluctuations in blood sugar may cause problems. When we eat, the body produces insulin, in response to sugar intake. Insulin is produced in the pancreas. Insulin causes the sugar to go into the cells and to be converted into a usable form of energy. This energy is used for all kinds of processes in the body and is also partly stored for later use.
When hyperglycemia occurs, something goes wrong in the operation of insulin. It may be that the insulin is not produced in the pancreas. This is type 1 diabetes. When insulin is produced, but the cells are resistant to insulin, a person has type 2 diabetes. When someone has diabetes, the body is not properly able to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. When one eats an ice cream, or any other ‘sugar bomb’, blood sugar will rise and a person can get a ‘hyper’.
There are some causes for why people have hyperglycemia:
- Eating or drinking too much sugar or carbohydrates.
- Taking medication too late.
- Less exercise than usual.
- Sick with fever, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Using medications that increase the sugar content in the blood.
The signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia are:
- Peeing a lot.
- Dry mouth.
When the blood sugar is severely increased, a person will experience the following symptoms:
- Breathing very heavily.
- Increasing weakness.
- A breath that smells like acetone.
When someone has a prolonged high blood sugar, possible wounds will heal worse and one will get infections sooner.
The diagnosis of hyperglycemia can be made by measuring the amount of glucose in the blood. People with diabetes often have a measuring device, with which they can do this themselves.
The treatment of hyperglycemia is aimed at normalizing the blood sugar again. This can be done by administering the appropriate amount of insulin. It should be avoided that a person gets a hyper again and the underlying problem needs to be addressed. By regularly checking the blood sugar, people with diabetes can keep an eye on whether the treatment is correctly set up.
Repeated or prolonged periods of hyperglycemia eventually lead to complications of diabetes. Depending on the type of diabetes that a person has, it can lead to acidification of the body by the release of fatty acids and dehydration by ‘draining’ water from body cells. This can eventually result in a coma.
If there are any signs of hyperglycemia with type 2 diabetes, one must do the following:
- Verify or get it checked whether blood sugar has indeed increased.
- Continue taking the medication, even when eating only a little bit.
- Ensure drinking sufficiently (sugar-free fluids) and eating normally.
- In case of fever, vomiting or diarrhea, it’s good to also drink broth in addition to water.
Hyperglycemia can be prevented as follows:
- Try to follow the dietary advices and to eat at regular times.
- Use the correct amount of medication, take them in time and in the right way.
- Ensure regular exercise.