High blood sugar is known as hyperglycemia and occurs when the amount of sugar in the blood is elevated. A blood sugar of more than 130 mg/dl is considered abnormal. While people with diabetes are at higher risk for hyperglycemia, not all people who have hyperglycemia will have diabetes.
Causes of High Blood Sugar
- Too much food
- Not enough Insulin
Normal Response to High Blood Sugar:
When the amount of sugar in the blood is elevated the body signals the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin facilitates the transport of sugar into the cells to be used for immediate energy and storage of excess sugar in the liver and muscles for later use.
Dangerously High Blood Sugar:
When blood sugar levels become dangerously high it is considered a medical emergency and immediate medical attention is needed. Do not wait until your blood sugar is dangerously high to call your doctor. Diabetic Ketoacidosis and Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Syndrome can cause dangerously high blood sugar.
A potentially life-threatening condition that results from a lack of insulin and elevated blood glucose. Since glucose is not being used for energy the body begins to break down fats which lead to ketoacidosis. In addition, the excess glucose is excreted in the urine, taking water with it, which leads to dehydration.
- Causes: lack of insulin, illness, dehydration
- Symptoms: polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, fruity breath, abdominal pain, rapid breathing, decreased level of consciousness, hot flushed skin
- Plasma glucose > 250
- Positive ketones in the urine
- Treatment: goal is to hydrate the patient and reduce blood glucose
Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Syndrome:
A dangerous condition caused by extremely high blood sugar that leads to severe dehydration as the kidneys attempt to excrete the excess glucose in the urine. Dehydration results in an increase electrolytes in the blood that pulls the fluid in other vital organs into the bloodstream, which can lead to many complications including coma and death.
- Causes: undiagnosed diabetes, illness, untreated hyperglycemia, prolongued IV nutrition without insulin
- Symptoms: severe dehydration, neurological manifestations, plasma glucose >600
- Ketones absent or slightly elevated
- Serum osmolality >320
- Treatment: hydrate then bring down blood sugar