Hyperglycemia: Treat It Early

How to Treat High Blood Glucose

Hyperglycemia is when your blood glucose level goes too high; it is high blood sugar.  Part of managing diabetes (either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes) on a daily basis is learning how to avoid hyperglycemia.  Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia early is helpful.

If your blood sugar shoots up too high, it can be dangerous—and it can possibly land you in the hospital, especially if it leads to diabetic ketoacidosis.

Also, if your blood sugar is continually in the high range, your likelihood of developing long-term diabetes complications such as nerve damage, kidney failure, and heart disease rises dramatically. So it is important to detect when your blood glucose reaches unacceptable levels.

Early Signs and Symptoms of Hyperglycemia
The best defensive tactic for identifying elevated blood glucose is testing with a glucose meter. Your doctor will advise you how frequently you should test and what levels you should be aiming for.

However, your body can also let you know when there is too much glucose circulating in your blood. It may prompt you with:

  • thirst
  • dry mouth
  • blurry vision
  • fatigue

If you experience these symptoms, check your blood glucose right away.

Hyperglycemia Treatments
If your blood glucose is high (based on the levels your doctor said you should be aiming for), it is time to act.

Your physician and diabetes educator have likely taught you how to treat high blood glucose levels—how to bring them back to a target range.

Some possible ideas for treating hyperglycemia:

  • Exercise:  Exercise can help your body use the extra glucose, whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

    But please note, if your blood glucose level is above 250 mg/dL and you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to check for ketones before exercising (you can use a ketone strip to test your urine).  If you have ketones, you cannot exercise.

    Also, if you have type 2 diabetes and your blood glucose level is above 300 mg/dL, do not exercise.

    Both of those are scenarios in which to immediately call your doctor and/or go to the hospital.
  • Drink water:  This will help your body remove excess glucose in your urine.

Of course, you want to avoid as many hyperglycemia events as you can, and to do that, you may need to:

  • Adjust what you eat when:  If you notice that you have frequent hyperglycemic events, you may need to meet with a registered dietitian or a certified diabetes educator (CDE) in order to better monitor what you’re eating and when—and how it affects your blood glucose levels.
  • Adjust your medications or insulin:  As with your meal plan, your medications (including insulin) may need an adjustment if you have hyperglycemic readings too often.  This is something your doctor will talk with you about (so don’t do anything without talking to him or her first).

Hyperglycemia Plan
If you do not have a plan for treating hyperglycemia, call your doctor or CDE to make an appointment to put one together. Knowing how to catch high blood glucose (blood sugar) readings and address them early may prevent long-term diabetes complications.

Updated on: September 28, 2012