Prolonged high blood sugar levels can cause many conditions. Diabetes is the first conditon that springs to mind, but it can also be a symptom of a heart attack or stroke. That’s why it is so important to be aware of the symptoms of high blood sugar.
What Causes High Blood Sugar?
High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, occurs when the level of sugar in your blood is considered to be higher than 180mg per deciliter if you’ve just eaten something. If you haven’t eaten, your blood sugar level is considered to be higher than normal when it's over 130mg per deciliter.
Several factors can lead to high blood sugar, so a root cause is not always identifiable. However, if you’re experiencing high blood sugar levels, some of the following may be to blame.
- Stress – this is one of the leading causes of disease in our modern world, so it’s no surprise that it can also cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
- Illness or infection – if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it's important to remember that any other kind of temporary illness or infection may cause your sugar levels to rise.
- Less exercise or physical activity than usual – our bodies get used to routine and habit, and it doesn’t always take much to throw it off. If you’re an active person and you suddenly become less active, your blood sugar levels may spike.
- Strenuous physical activity or exercise – if your insulin levels are currently low and you engage in any strenuous activity, it can cause your blood sugar levels to rise.
- Too many carbohydrates – a well-balanced diet is essential in maintaining good health, and carbohydrates, in particular, should be limited.
- Forgetting to take your medication – forgetting to take your medication or insulin can occasionally happen to anyone. However, if this is becoming a regular habit for you, we suggest you consult your medical team to find another way to manage this.
Why Is High Blood Sugar so Dangerous?
High blood sugar levels can do more than make you feel ill. If not treated, Hyperglycemia can cause ongoing vaginal and skin conditions and digestive problems such as chronic diarrhea and constipation.
Problems with your vision can occur, and damage to your kidneys and blood vessels.
Cuts and sores on your body may take longer to heal, and you could experience hair loss.
Erectile dysfunction can cause problems for men, and both sexes can experience cold or insensitive feet due to nerve damage.
9 Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
Not everyone who experiences high blood sugar levels has the same symptoms, but there are some that are common to most people who have a diagnosis of diabetes.
Increased Thirst and Frequent Urination
Your kidneys are designed to regulate the amount of sugar that’s released into your body by filtering your blood and absorbing any excess glucose. If high levels of sugar accumulate in your blood, your kidneys are not able to process it all, and you become dehydrated.
Headaches from high blood sugar levels usually occur after you have eaten a large amount of sugary foods. After the initial rush of sugar to the brain, when you stop eating those foods, your body struggles to cope. The headaches are a response to the body no longer receiving the expected amount of sugar.
Blurred vision is common with people who have high blood sugar levels in their body. It’s caused by a major, or abrupt, change in the plasma glucose level. Inform your doctor as soon as you experience this symptom.
Many people who suffer from diabetes notice that when their blood sugar levels are high, they have problems focusing on tasks. They may also have problems with their memory, and they may appear to be confused.
Most people are aware that increased thirst can be an indication of high blood sugar levels, but what is lesser known is that increased hunger can be as well.
If you find you still feel hungry after eating a meal or that you feel hungry almost all the time, it may be because your muscles are not getting the energy they need from the food you’re eating. A lack of insulin is preventing your body from getting the glucose you need, and your muscles and other tissues interpret this as hunger.
Bacteria flourish in bodies that have a high level of glucose in the blood. Vaginal and bladder infections are particularly common in women who have type 2 diabetes.
Slow Healing Wounds and Sores
Even small cuts may take longer to heal if your blood sugar levels are high. The increase of glucose levels in your blood affects your white cells' ability to work as they should.
High blood sugar levels can cause a condition called Gastroparesis. It is more common in people who have type 2 diabetes, but it can also occur in people with type 1.
If you have had diabetes for at least 10 years, your vagus nerve may be damaged. This means that food will take longer to digest in your body, and this can wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels.
Shortness of Breath
If you have type 1 diabetes, a condition called Ketoacidosis may occur. This can cause shortness of breath in many people because of a buildup of ketones in your system. When your body is not able to accommodate sufficient levels of glucose, it starts to use ketones as an energy source.
What to Do If You Have Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
Many people are aware that if you have low blood sugar levels, drinking juice or having something to eat is a good way to raise the sugar levels in your body. However, not everyone is aware that there are ways to lower your blood sugar level as well.
If you already have a diagnosis of diabetes, you should be careful to monitor your levels closely with the use of a home glucose monitor. It will allow you to keep track of when you need to be a bit more careful about your activities or food consumption.
Things You Can Do to Lower Your Blood Sugar
Reducing your carbohydrate intake is a good idea. Carbohydrates turn into sugar that your body burns as energy. People with diabetes are not always able to burn sugar in the body as quickly as others.
As well as reducing your carbohydrate intake, you should make sure that you eat the right kinds of carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and whole grain oats, break down into sugar slowly, and so they don’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
Eat food that has a low glycemic index. These are foods that break down into sugar slowly, rather than quickly and causing a spike in blood sugar levels.
Portion Size and Weight Loss Can Help
Controlling your portion size and losing weight helps to control your blood sugar levels. In general, a well-balanced lifestyle that includes healthy food and regular exercise helps you to maintain healthy sugar levels.
Drink as much water during the day as you can and increase your intake of herbs and spices such as cinnamon, American ginseng, and chromium.
Reducing your stress levels and getting enough sleep help to lower your blood sugar levels. It also helps you to make better decisions about which food to eat.
How to Recognize the Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
You may think that if your blood sugar levels are high, it will be instantly recognizable. However, this is not always the case. Many of the symptoms develop over time and do not just suddenly appear.
If you suspect your blood sugar levels are high, you should seek medical advice to diagnose your condition correctly. Your doctor will conduct a thorough examination that includes an overview of lifestyle habits as well as symptoms.