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Hyperglycemia, simply known as high blood sugar, is a medical term, which describes excessive amount of glucose in the blood. It is the hallmark sign of diabetes, the disease which is responsible for majority of the hyperglycemia incidents. Early treatment of an underlying disease, responsible for glucose levels elevation, is crucial for general health condition. Without appropriate medical care, it can lead to dangerous consequences, such as diabetic coma or cardiovascular disorders. In addition, there are also various symptoms and signs associated with high levels of sugar. They may help to recognize particular ailments in their early stages, in order to prevent from further complications.
Possible causes of hyperglycemia
There are many various disorders, which can result in elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Nevertheless, the most common cause is diabetes. The disease, which appears as a consequence of either insufficient amount of insulin, in case of diabetes mellitus type 1, or organism’s inability to use this type of substance, which is a feature of type 2 diabetes. Insulin is a peptide hormone produced in the pancreas and it’s major task is to adjust glucose absorption. That is why the levels of those two substances are closely related.
Apart from diabetes, the hyperglycemia can also appear due to:
- Inflammation or cancer of the pancreas
- Certain endocrine disorders, such as hyperthyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome
- Use of amphetamine or some medications, e.g. corticosteroids, beta blockers, estrogens, diuretics or even oral contraceptives.
Associated symptoms and signs
Although mild or temporary cases of hyperglycemia can remain unnoticeable, most of them presents itself with other symptoms and signs. Their intensity depends on the actual level of glucose, thus insignificant elevation of this type of sugar do not necessarily cause other symptoms. However if they appear, they can include:
- Increased thirst, professionally called as polydipsia, and frequent urination. They are in fact the most common symptoms, that occur due to increased sugar level.
- Vision disorders
- Increased appetite
Some individuals need to check their sugar levels regularly due to diabetes or other conditions. The glucose levels are measured in either millimoles per liter (mmol/l) or milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), and the first unit of measurement is used in most of the countries. The table below consist recommended range of glucose for most of the people, as well as levels suitable for person with diabetes, which were evaluated by the American Diabetes Association.
|Normal glucose level||4-6 mmol/l or
< 7,8 mmol/l or
< 140 mg/dl
Recommended levels for people with diabetes
4,5-7,2 mmol/l or
< 10 mmol/l or
Mild or barely noticeable hyperglycemia does not require any specific treatment. Healthcare providers may recommend simple lifestyle and dietary changes, in order to successfully restore the levels of glucose. More serious incidents, however, need to be mitigated with the help of professional methods, which are selected accordingly to an underlying disease. In most of those serious hyperglycemia cases, treatment will include direct injections of the insulin.
Without proper intervention, prolonged low blood sugar may potentially become a life-threatening condition. The most dangerous complications include diabetic coma, diabetic ketoacidosis, cardiovascular disorders and damage to the kidney or nervous system.