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What Can Happen If My Blood Sugar Is Too High

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Your Legs And Feet Are Swollen

10 Alarming Signs Your Blood Sugar Is Too High

When thereâs too much sugar in the system, it can pull water into cells, which will swell up over time if you donât get these fluids moving through your body regularly.

The American Diabetes Association claims that people who have diabetes tend to have legs and feet up to five times larger than they should be, which can lead to complications within the circulatory system, including infections and reduced blood flow.

If you notice your feet and ankles begin to swell up, make sure to keep them elevated when possible. Itâs important to treat swelling as soon as possible by elevating your legs higher.

Low Blood Glucose During Sleep

Your blood glucose level can drop while you sleep and stay low for several hours, causing serious problems.7 Symptoms of low blood glucose while you sleep can include

  • crying out or having nightmares
  • sweating enough to make your pajamas or sheets damp
  • feeling tired, irritable, or confused after waking up

Although you may not wake up or notice any symptoms, low blood glucose can interfere with your sleep, which may affect your quality of life, mood, and ability to work. Having low blood glucose during sleep can also make you less likely to notice and respond to symptoms of low blood glucose during the day.

Think About What’s Going On

Irene Dunbar of Durham, NC woke up one morning to discover that her blood sugar was at 119, which was high for her. “I had a cold and had had orange juice yesterday, and I normally do not drink orange juice,” said Dunbar, who thought, ‘I better not do that.”

Sometimes, determining the cause of an elevated level may make you feel like a detective. But it’s important to ask yourself questions about potential causes, such as diet and exercise habits, changes in your treatment plan, or personal life adjustments. Determining the answers to these questions can help pinpoint what might be going wrong, according to MedlinePlus.

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If You Regularly Have High Blood Sugar Levels

Having high blood sugar levels regularly is not something you should live with. This is because in the long-term it can increase your risk of developing diabetes complications, such as neuropathy and retinopathy.

If you notice that your blood sugar levels are often high, you should contact your diabetes healthcare team. They will review your treatment and provide you with advice on how to get your blood sugar levels back within your target range. This advice may include increasing your medication.

In the video below, Lynsey talks to Khalida about feeling anxious after getting a high blood sugar level reading. If youre finding it hard to deal with similar feelings, weve got information on emotional health that you may find helpful.

Nausea Vomiting Confusion And More

What a High Blood Sugar Feels Like

These seemingly disparate symptoms are all signs of a rare and life-threatening state called diabetic ketoacidosis , according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. DKA can cause the symptoms above, as well as stomach pain, trouble breathing, dry or flushed skin, fruity-smelling breath, or difficulty paying attention. It usually occurs in people with type 1 diabetes and is sometimes the first sign they are sick, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. DKA happens when the liver is unable to use the sugar in the blood for energy without insulin and begins to break down body fat into a type of fuel called ketones at such a high rate that they become toxic and make the blood acidic, the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains. DKA can be fatal if left untreated, so anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek care immediately.

Over time, untreated high blood sugar can cause additional symptoms, such as:

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What Is Low Blood Glucose

Low blood glucose, also called low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops below what is healthy for you. For many people with diabetes, this means a blood glucose reading lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter .1 Your number might be different, so check with your doctor or health care team to find out what blood glucose level is low for you.

Different Levels And What They Mean

The ranges of safe levels of blood glucose depend on factors such as what time of day it is and when you last ate. Safe levels of blood sugar are high enough to supply your organs with the sugar they need, but low enough to prevent symptoms of hyperglycemia or complications of diabetes which follow the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases guides. Dangerous levels of blood glucose are outside of this range.

The target levels can also vary if you have diabetes. For example, if you are diabetic and are monitoring your blood sugar, you might get a reading of 65 mg/dl. That is considered to be mild hypoglycemia, and you would be wise to eat 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates and retest your blood sugar in 15 minutes.

If you were not diabetic, you probably would not know that your sugar was low because you would not test and because you would not symptoms, and you would not act.

That is fine because your body is capable, under normal circumstances, of raising your blood glucose to healthy levels when needed, even if you have not eaten. It is important to keep them in control to help prevent issues like heart disease or nerve damage.

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I Feel Fine So I Dont Need To Test My Levels

3 Ways to Lower Blood Sugar. Fast and Safe.

Zanini points out that having high blood glucose can come as a surprise to anyone. âIt’s possible they didn’t notice any symptoms or were simply feeling ‘more tired than usual,ââ she says. âIt’s easy to attribute being tired to many other things. . .so this is why regular physicals with your healthcare provider are important.â The bottom line? Listen to your body, take note of symptoms as they arise, and consider monitoring your continuous glucose values.

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Best Ways To Lower Blood Sugar Quickly

When treated early, you can bring high blood sugar levels down and prevent complications, including DKA.

Some sources suggest that drinking water or eating a high protein snack can quickly lower your blood sugar levels, though there isnt enough research to support this.

If you have high blood sugar and need to lower it fast, try the following methods:

How Common Is Low Blood Glucose

Low blood glucose is common among people with type 1 diabetes and among people with type 2 diabetes who take insulin or some other diabetes medicines. In a large global study of people with diabetes who take insulin, 4 in 5 people with type 1 diabetes and nearly half of those with type 2 diabetes reported a low blood sugar event at least once over a 4-week period.2

Severely low blood glucose, defined as when your blood glucose level drops so low you cant treat it yourself, is less common. Among U.S. adults with diabetes who take insulin or some diabetes medicines that help the pancreas release insulin into the blood, 2 in 100 may develop severely low blood glucose each year.3

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What Is High Blood Glucose

To fully understand your blood glucose levels, itâs important to know: a) what values are actually considered high, and b) factors that can cause your elevated reading in the first place.

High blood glucose, also known as hyperglycemia, occurs when there is too much sugar in the bloodstream. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is the result of too little glucose in the bloodstream. Hyperglycemia usually occurs because your body doesnât produce enough insulin or canât properly use the available insulin to remove the glucose from the bloodstream.

Using milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood for measurement, high blood glucose readings after a meal indicating prediabetes can fall between 140 and 199 mg/dL. Levels reaching 200 mg/dL two hours after eating indicate you may already be insulin resistant or diabetic, though that diagnosis will need to come from your doctor. By comparison, the typical standard for normal glucose readings is to remain under 140 mg/dL throughout the day and under 100 mg/dL after eight hours of fasting.

A range of lifestyle factors, habits, and health conditions can cause high blood sugar. To debunk common hyperglycemia myths, review causes and symptoms, and discuss the best ways to address them, we spoke with two experts on high blood sugar levels: registered dietitian and For The Love of Diabetes creator Lori Zanini and registered dietitian nutritionist and diabetes management expert .

Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar

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How you react to low blood sugar may not be the same as how someone else with low blood sugar reacts. Its important to know your signs. Common symptoms may include:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Hunger

If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.

You may not have any symptoms when your blood sugar is low . If you dont have symptoms, it will be harder to treat your low blood sugar early. This increases your risk of having severe lows and can be dangerous. This is more likely to happen if you:

  • Have had diabetes for more than 5-10 years.
  • Frequently have low blood sugar.
  • Take certain medicines, such as beta blockers for high blood pressure.

If you meet one or more of the above and you have hypoglycemia unawareness, you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low. This is very important to do before driving or being physically active.

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What Causes Hyperglycemia In People With Diabetes

  • The dose of insulin or oral diabetes medication that you are taking is not the most helpful dose for your needs.
  • Your body isnt using your natural insulin effectively .
  • The amount of carbohydrates you are eating or drinking is not balanced with the amount of insulin your body is able to make or the amount of insulin you inject.
  • You are less active than usual.
  • Physical stress is affecting you.
  • Emotional stress is affecting you.
  • You are taking steroids for another condition.
  • The dawn phenomenon is affecting you.

Other possible causes

Reflect On The Amount Of Sugar In Your Diet

Hyperglycemia occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood.

Therefore, one way of reducing your blood glucose levels is reflecting on where sugar may be consumed in the diet. Think about any refined and processed foods that may be in your diet as these are often high in sugar. This can be achieved through a low carbohydrate diet.

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What Are The Risks Of Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia can be a sign that your body isnt getting enough insulin. It is normal for patients with T1D to get hyperglycemia, and most of the time this is simply treated with insulin. If the body does not have insulin for approximately 8 hours, you could develop a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA.

In DKA, your body breaks down fat for energy because it doesnt have enough insulin to use the sugar in your blood. This produces chemicals called ketones, which make your blood more acidic.

DKA is dangerous. Too much acid in your blood can make you pass out or even cause death.

Oral Health And Diabetes

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People with poorly managed diabetes are at increased risk of tooth decay and gum infections. This is because the small blood vessels that help nourish your teeth and gums can become damaged. Poor oral care can cause the gums to become inflamed and loosen around your teeth. It’s also strongly linked with an increased risk of heart disease.To reduce your risk of teeth and gum problems:

  • See your dentist regularly for a check-up.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day.
  • If you have dentures, make sure you brush your dentures and gums with a soft toothbrush.

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What Is Hyperglycaemia

Hyperglycaemia happens when there is too much glucose in your bloodstream. Normally the human body keeps its blood glucose level very stable . Hyperglycaemia is defined as:

  • blood glucose levels greater than 7.0 mmol/L when fasting
  • blood glucose levels greater than 11.1 mmol/L 2 hours after meals.

If your blood glucose levels are more than 7 mmol/L for an extended period it can start to cause damage. However, you might not feel any symptoms until blood glucose levels go over 11.0 mmol/L. Regular monitoring of your blood glucose levels is the best way to check if your blood glucose levels are within the ideal range. Read more about blood glucose testing.

How Is Dka Treated

DKA is very serious, but it can be treated if you go to the doctor or hospital right away. To feel better, a person with DKA needs to get insulin and fluids through a tube that goes into a vein in the body .

Let your parents or someone on your diabetes health care team know if you have any of these symptoms or are sick and don’t know what to do to take care of your diabetes.

Always wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace that says you have diabetes. Then, if you are not feeling well, whoever’s helping you will know to call for medical help. Medical identification can also include your doctor’s phone number or a parent’s phone number.

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How Do I Prevent Hyperglycemia

  • Exercise to help lower blood sugar. Work with your healthcare provider to make a daily activity plan.
  • Follow your meal plan if you have one. Learn how carbohydrates impact your blood sugar, and work with your diabetes care team to find the best meal plan for you.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Dont smoke.
  • Limit drinking alcohol. Alcohol can raise blood sugar levels, but can also cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. Work with your provider to determine how much is safe to drink.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/11/2020.

References

Causes Related To Personal Health

What a High Blood Sugar Feels Like

Insulin resistance

This condition occurs when the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver are unable to use the glucose in your bloodstream for energy. Your pancreas responds to this increase in glucose by producing more insulin to help your body process it. This excess amount of insulin in the bloodstream can eventually cause your body to lose insulin sensitivity or build resistance to it, leading to higher blood glucose levels.

Bodyweight and body fat

Research connects being overweight and having a higher body fat percentage with high blood glucose levels. In fact, a high body fat percentage might be a clearer indicator of high blood sugar and diabetes than weight or body mass index .

Other health conditions

Certain conditions could make you more likely to have high blood glucose. These include Cushingâs disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome , and gestational diabetes. Blood glucose may also rise as the result of common illnesses like a head cold or the flu.

Hormonal changes

It isnât just stress and sleep that can cause fluctuations in hormones. Illness, physical pain and trauma, menopause or menstruation can as well. In any of these instances, your blood glucose levels may rise due to the changes in your hormone levels.

Medications

Gut issues

A growingbody of research links imbalances in the microbiota living in our guts to an inability to regulate glucose levels in the blood. This is sometimes due to antibiotic use or infection.

Genetics

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