Hyperglycemia, which is more commonly known as high blood sugar, occurs when the body is incapable of shuttling glucose out of the bloodstream so it can be transferred to cells for use as energy. In most cases, this condition is only a problem for diabetic individuals because these people suffer from dysfunction of insulin, the hormone used by the body for regulating blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of high blood sugar
Symptoms of hyperglycemia usually take several weeks to develop and can involve:
- Dry mouth and an unusual degree of thirst, which prompts the person to drink more water than normal. This condition is called polydipsia.
- Polyuria, which refers to an increased frequency of urination, particularly during nighttime.
- Polyphagia, which is an increase in both appetite and food consumption.
More serious symptoms, which are generally caused by prolonged periods of high blood sugar causing damage to body tissues, often take longer to occur and can include:
- Losing weight despite increased food intake
- Kidney disorders
- Blurry vision
- Diminished hearing
- Nerve damage, nerve pain and numbness or tingling in the extremities (peripheral neuropathy)
- Cardiovascular diseases
Causes of Hyperglycemia
Individuals with diabetes are not able to convert blood sugar into energy either because on insufficient levels of insulin or because their insulin is simply not functioning correctly. This means that glucose stays in the bloodstream, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Diabetes takes two distinct forms: Type 1 and type 2.
Diagnosing and Treating Hyperglycemia
Diagnosing hyperglycemia is done by assessing symptoms and performing a simple blood glucose test. Depending on the severity of the condition and which type of diabetes the patient is diagnosed with, insulin and a variety of medication may be prescribed to help the person keep their blood sugar under control. Insulin comes in short, long and fast-acting forms, and a person suffering from type 1 diabetes is likely to be prescribed some combination of these.
Individuals who are either diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or are considered at risk for the disease are recommended to make alterations to their diet, lifestyle habits and exercise routine in order to lower blood sugar and keep it under control. These changes generally help to improve blood glucose control, individuals with type 2 diabetes may require medication eventually. These can include glitazones, acarbose, glucophage or sulphonylureas.