Many people never worry about having high blood sugar when they have not been diagnosed with diabetes. However, it is important to know the signs of high blood sugar as often, the first indication you might be diabetic is that you might have a heart attack or stroke. Would it surprise you to know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 7.3 million Americans, about 2.8% of the population, are walking around with undiagnosed diabetes?
Most undiagnosed diabetes cases are likely to be type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90% to 95% of all diabetes. Type 2 diabetes frequently goes undiagnosed for many years because hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) develops gradually and, at earlier stages, is often not severe enough for the patient to notice the classic diabetes symptoms. Additionally, Prediabetes (or impaired glucose tolerance), the precursor to type 2 diabetes, can also take years to develop and be present without symptoms. If there are symptoms, they are often ignored or mistaken for something else.
When blood sugars are elevated for an extended period of time without being treated, long-term complications will occur. An excess of sugar can affect the small and large vessels in the body, which can cause problems in organs all over the body. The importance of maintaining good, healthy nutrition cannot be emphasized enough when you consider the first indication that you are in trouble is your actual early death. However, there are signs of high blood sugar you need to learn to watch out for in order to prevent your family suffering the tragedy of your early demise.
What is Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)
Hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose, occurs when there is too much sugar in the blood. This happens when your body has too little insulin (the hormone that transports glucose into the blood), or if your body can’t use insulin properly. The condition is most often linked with diabetes.
Hyperglycemia is blood glucose greater than 125 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) while fasting (not eating for at least eight hours; a person with a fasting blood glucose greater than 125 mg/dL has diabetes). If you have hyperglycemia and it’s untreated for long periods of time, you can damage your nerves, blood vessels, tissues and organs. Damage to blood vessels can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, and nerve damage may also lead to eye damage, kidney damage and non-healing wounds.
My friends, high blood sugar is no laughing matter that you can just brush aside as you continue eating your sugar filled junk foods. If this applies to you, then you are foolishly gambling with your health and your life!
Early symptoms of hyperglycemia include:
- High blood sugar.
- Increased thirst and/or hunger.
- Blurred vision.
- Frequent urination (peeing).
Additional symptoms include:
- Fatigue (feeling weak, tired).
- Weight loss.
- Vaginal and skin infections.
- Slow-healing cuts and sores.
If hyperglycemia is left untreated in people with type 1 diabetes, it can develop into ketoacidosis, where ketones, which are toxic acids, build up in the blood. This condition is an emergency situation that can lead to coma or death.
Symptoms of ketoacidosis are:
- Unusual fruity smell on the breath.
- Deep labored breathing or hyperventilation.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Confusion and disorientation.
How do I prevent hyperglycemia?
- Exercise to help lower blood sugar. Work with your healthcare provider to make a daily activity plan that fits your needs. Find an exercise routine that you enjoy in order to better be able to stick with it.
- Follow your healthy 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.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit drinking alcohol. Doctor’s might tell you to limit your intake of alcohol. However, I would advise to simply not drink it at all since it lowers your inhibitions. Alcohol can raise blood sugar levels, but can also cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. If you are going to continue to drink, then be sure to work with your doctor to determine how much is safe to drink.
Even if you have never been diagnosed with diabetes, but you do display any of the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Hyperglycemia can be managed by eating healthy, being active, and managing stress. Additionally, insulin is a critical part of managing hyperglycemia for people with type 1 diabetes, while people with type 2 diabetes may need oral medications and eventually insulin to help them manage hyperglycemia.
Get with your doctor and work together on a plan to manage this before it becomes too late!