High Blood Sugar Treatment
- Medication change: High blood sugars may be a sign that the person with diabetes needs to take medication, to change medications, or to change the way it is given .
- Other illness: Other illnesses need to be diagnosed and treated if an illness is causing high blood sugar levels. Infection or illness may need to be treated in the hospital, where health professionals can adjust the plan of care.
- Other Medications: A number of medications are available to help control blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes. Insulin is also prescribed for people with diabetes .
What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperglycemia
The signs and symptoms include the following:
- High blood sugar
- High levels of sugar in the urine
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
Part of managing your diabetes is checking your blood sugar often. Ask your doctor how often you should check and what your blood sugar levels should be. Checking your blood and then treating high blood sugar early will help you avoid problems associated with hyperglycemia.
Write Down Important Information To Take With You
Its easy to forget important information, especially if you are worried or ill. Before entering the hospital, spend time making a list for each of the following:
- your medical history, including food or drug allergies and previous medical procedures or surgeries
- all the medication you are currently taking, including:
- diabetes medications: brand name, strength, dosage, times to be taken
- if you take insulin: dosage , how often, times to be taken
- other prescription medications
- vitamins or herbal remedies
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What Causes High Blood Sugar
A variety of things can trigger an increase in blood sugar level in people with diabetes, including:
- missing a dose of your diabetes medicine or taking an incorrect dose
- overtreating an episode of low blood sugar
- taking certain medicines, such as steroids
Occasional episodes of hyperglycaemia can also occur in children and young adults during growth spurts.
Examples Of Appropriate Snacks May Be:
- 6 saltine crackers
- 1 slice toast and 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup milk
The food eaten for a reaction need not be subtracted from a meal plan.
Obtain a blood sugar when symptoms occur if you are able. If symptoms are severe, treat the reaction first and then obtain a blood sugar. Do not drive nor operate equipment if you feel your blood sugar is low.
If your blood sugar drops low enough for you to become unconscious, you must be taken to the hospital and/or treated with glucagon.
Glucagon is a hormone that causes the blood sugar to rise. It can only be given by injection. It is used to treat a low blood sugar if a person becomes semi-conscious or unconscious due to a severe low blood sugar. Please ask your nurse for instruction on glucagon. Your doctor will need to write a prescription for glucagon so you can have it available at home.
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What Should You Expect When You Are Hospitalized For Honk
Regardless of what pushed you into the diabetic coma, you will be admitted to the ICU. You will get specific treatments for any other major medical issues that you have along with HONK.
These are the most common things to expect in the hospital when hospitalized for a diabetic coma:
Take Your Insulin As Prescribed
High blood sugar occurs when your body has too little insulin, or your body cant use insulin properly. Administering insulin can bring your blood sugar levels down.
Talk to your doctor about how much rapid-acting insulin you should administer when your blood sugar is high.
You may want to check your blood sugar about 1530 minutes after taking insulin to make sure your blood sugar is going down and that its not dropping too low.
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Symptoms And Signs Of High Blood Sugar
Other symptoms and signs of high blood sugar include:
Nose spray. Some nasal sprays have chemicals that trigger the liver to make more blood sugar.
Severely elevated blood sugar levels can result in a medical emergency . This can occur in both people with type 1 and those with type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes may develop diabetic ketoacidosis , and those with type 2 diabetes can develop hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome . These so-called hyperglycemia crises are serious conditions that can be life threatening if not treated immediately. Hyperglycemic crises cause about 2,400 deaths each year in the U.S.
Over time, hyperglycemia can lead to damage to organs and tissues. Long-term hyperglycemia can impair the immune response, leading to poor healing of cuts and wounds. It can also cause nerve damage, vision problems, and damage to the blood vessels and kidneys .
When To Get Urgent Medical Attention
Contact your diabetes care team immediately if you have a high blood sugar level and experience the following symptoms:
- feeling or being sick
- a fever for more than 24 hours
- signs of dehydration, such as a headache, dry skin and a weak, rapid heartbeat
- difficulty staying awake
These symptoms could be a sign of a more serious complication of hyperglycaemia, such as diabetic ketoacidosis or a hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state, and you may need to be looked after in hospital.
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What Can You Do To Help With Your Hospital Care
If you have diabetes, let your nurse and doctor know when you go into the hospital. Ask your doctor to make sure this information goes into your patient chart. You will need to have your blood sugar checked at least four times a day . So that your care providers know your usual blood sugar control, you should have a hemoglobin A1c test . If you do not have diabetes but your blood sugar is above 140 mg/dL, you will need to have this test.
If your hospital provider diagnoses you with diabetes, you will need to learn how to do home glucose testing and how to recognize and treat high and low blood glucose levels. In some cases, you may also need to learn how to inject insulin.
When you leave the hospital, you will receive a written care plan. If you had HBG or low blood sugar in the hospital, your care plan should include how to control your blood sugar and when to see your doctor next. It also should explain how and when to take your diabetes medications. By following this advice, you will have the best chance of a good recovery after your hospital stay.
For People With Type 1 Diabetes
Contact your doctor or go to hospital if:
- Vomiting stops you from drinking and makes eating difficult
- Blood glucose levels remain high
- Moderate to large ketones are present in the urine.
In type 1 diabetes, high blood glucose levels can progress to a serious condition called Ketoacidosis.
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What Are The Signs Of High And Low Blood Sugar
The symptoms vary depending on whether you have hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Find out how to spot the warning signs and stabilize your glucose.
One of the challenges of managing diabetes is maintaining consistent blood sugar levels. Even with diligence, some situations can cause high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, while others can bring on low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.
After all, its not just carbohydrate intake that influences the amount of glucose coursing through your bloodstream when you have type 2 diabetes. Emotional stress and certain medications can increase your blood sugar levels, and a boost in activity can cause it to drop, says Megan ONeill, CDCES, a medical science liaison for diabetes care at Abbott healthcare company in Monterey, California. Sometimes people experience a spike in their blood sugar early in the morning due to the dawn effect, a temporary surge of hormones that occurs as the body prepares to wake, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
For people with diabetes, managing blood glucose levels is especially important, ONeill says. Levels that are too low or high can result in complications that affect your kidneys, heart, and vision, reduce your quality of life, require expensive interventions, or even be fatal.
- Between 80 and 130 milligrams per deciliter before meals
- Less than 180 mg/dL two hours after meals
Is Hyperglycaemia Serious
The aim of diabetes treatment is to keep blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible.
But if you have diabetes, no matter how careful you are, you’re likely to experience hyperglycaemia at some point.
It’s important to be able to recognise and treat hyperglycaemia, as it can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
Occasional mild episodes are not usually a cause for concern and can be treated quite easily or may return to normal on their own.
But hyperglycaemia can be potentially dangerous if blood sugar levels become very high or stay high for long periods.
Very high blood sugar levels can cause life-threatening complications, such as:
- diabetic ketoacidosis a condition caused by the body needing to break down fat as a source of energy, which can lead to a diabetic coma this tends to affect people with type 1 diabetes
- hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state severe dehydration caused by the body trying to get rid of excess sugar this tends to affect people with type 2 diabetes
Regularly having high blood sugar levels for long periods of time can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
If you experience hyperglycaemia regularly, speak to your doctor or diabetes care team.
You may need to change your treatment or lifestyle to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
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What Is Hyperglycemia
Hyperglycemia is the medical word for high blood sugar levels. The hormone insulin is supposed to control the level of glucose in the blood. But someone with diabetes doesnt make enough insulin or the insulin doesnt work properly so too much sugar can get into the blood and make the person sick.
If you have high blood sugar levels, you may need treatment to lower your blood sugar. Your parents and your diabetes health care team will tell you what your blood sugar levels should be and what to do if they get too high.
Managing diabetes is like a three-way balancing act because you have to watch:
All three need to be balanced. If any one of these is off, blood sugar levels can be, too. Your parents and doctor can help you with this balancing act.
How Is It Treated
If you often have symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should see your healthcare provider. Your provider can help you determine the cause. Your provider will also give you guidelines for treating low blood sugar when you are having symptoms.
When you see your provider, be sure to take your notebook or glucose meter with all of the results of your recent blood sugar checks. This helps your provider know whether you are on the right medicines and are taking the right dose at the right time of day. Without this record, it is harder for your provider to help you figure out the cause of your symptoms.
Here are some examples of guidelines your provider may give you:
- If you have diabetes and you think your blood sugar may be too low, check it with your home meter before treatment, if possible.
- Always carry some form of sugar you can eat as soon as you have any symptoms of hypoglycemia. The following amounts and types of foods will bring your blood sugar level up:
- 2 to 5 glucose tablets
- 1/2 cup fruit juice
- 1/2 cup regular soda
- 6 to 8 ounces of skim milk
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup of raisins
- 5 to 7 pieces of hard candy like Lifesavers
- a tube of glucose in gel form
- 1 tablespoon of molasses, corn syrup, or honey
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When To See A Doctor
According to the University of Michigan, blood sugar levels of 300 mg/dL or more can be dangerous. They recommend calling a doctor if you have two readings in a row of 300 or more.
See your doctor if you have consistently high blood sugar levels. Symptoms of this include:
- increased thirst
- high levels of sugar in urine
Ask your doctor how often to check your blood sugar and about your ideal blood sugar levels.
If you dont currently see a doctor who specializes in diabetes, known as an endocrinologist, you can find one by searching the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website.
You can find a certified diabetes educator by visiting the American Diabetes Associations website and searching by zip code.
Talk to your doctor if you have consistently high blood sugar readings or symptoms of chronic hyperglycemia.
Checking your blood sugar and then treating hyperglycemia early will help prevent any complications.
Health problems can arise when someone has high blood sugar regularly and without treatment.
Examples of complications include:
- nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy, that may affect sensations in the feet and hands
- diabetic retinopathy, or damage to the blood vessels in the eyes that affects vision
- increased risks for kidney problems
- increased risks for heart problems
Taking steps to keep your blood sugar at target levels can help to minimize the likelihood that these complications will occur.
Signs That Blood Sugar Levels Are High
People with high blood sugar may:
- pee a lot. When blood sugar levels get too high, the kidneys flush out the extra glucose into your urine , which is why people who have high blood sugar levels need to pee more often and in larger amounts.
- drink a lot. Because youre losing so much fluid from peeing so much, you can get very thirsty.
- lose weight. If there isnt enough insulin to help the body use glucose, the body starts to break down your muscle and fat for energy and you lose weight.
- feel tired. Because the body cant use glucose for energy properly, you may feel really tired.
High blood sugar levels dont always cause these symptoms. Sometimes you can have high blood sugar levels without even knowing it. But if left untreated, they can cause serious health problems. Thats why its important to work with your parents and diabetes team to keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range. This can mean checking your blood sugar levels a few times a day, even when you feel fine.
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Stick To Your Medication And Insulin Regimen
Skipping a dose of medication or insulin can be harmful to your body and increase your blood sugar levels.
Its important to stick to your treatment plan and follow your doctors instructions for taking your medication.
Healthful lifestyle habits can help people manage their blood sugar levels over the long term, such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, staying hydrated, and getting good sleep.
Diabetic Coma From High Blood Sugar
A diabetic coma from high blood sugar is a very specific condition. The medical name for this condition is Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Coma, or simply HONK. I have treated hundreds of patients hospitalized with diabetic comas from high blood sugar over the last 15 years. I have written this article based on my personal experience as well as a thorough review of medical literature.
In this article, I will explain these things:
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The Power Of Consistency
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How To Prevent Hyperglycaemia
There are simple ways to reduce your risk of severe or prolonged hyperglycaemia:
- Be careful what you eat be particularly aware of how snacking and eating sugary foods or carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar level.
- Stick to your treatment plan remember to take your insulin or other diabetes medications as recommended by your care team.
- Be as active as possible getting regular exercise can help stop your blood sugar level rising, but you should check with your doctor first if you’re taking diabetes medication, as some medicines can lead to hypoglycaemia if you exercise too much.
- Take extra care when you’re ill your care team can provide you with some “sick day rules” that outline what you can do to keep your blood sugar level under control during an illness.
- Monitor your blood sugar level your care team may suggest using a device to check your level at home so you can spot an increase early and take steps to stop it.
Page last reviewed: 08 August 2018 Next review due: 08 August 2021
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