Healthcare Information

Hyperglycaemia

Goal : To understand the management principles of hyperglycaemia

Hyperglycaemia is having too much sugar in the blood. This means the body does not have enough insulin or it cannot effectively use the insulin it has. The normal range before a meal is 4 - 5.55 mmol/l. The ideal treatment of diabetes mellitus would keep the blood sugar in this range. Your doctor and nurse educator will tell you the level of glucose in your blood that is ideal for you. Long term sustained high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) leads to complications in the eye, kidney, nerves and probably the heart. High blood sugars increase the blood fats and these lead to “hardening of the arteries”. Research has shown that reducing the blood glucose levels to as near normal as possible reduces the incidence of eye, kidney and nerve damage.


Blood sugar test


Causes of high blood glucose level

The most common causes of high blood glucose are:

  • Not enough insulin or oral diabetic medication
  • Increased food intake e.g. kinder
  • Decreased exercises or decreased physical activity
  • Illness or infection
  • Injury or surgery
  • Severe stress

Symptoms of hyperglycaemia

Some people have no symptoms of high blood sugars and they are found to have diabetic damage such as numbness in the nerves when they finally do go for a health check. Elevated levels of glucose will appear in the urine and blood when tested. It is important to test your blood glucose regularly. It is not accurate to use urine glucose testing as an indicator of blood glucose control. Some of the people may have high blood glucose levels but the urine maybe negative for glucose.Many of the symptoms of high blood glucose made worse by dehydration (lack of water). Early symptoms are:
  • Thirst
  • Increased urine production
  • Increased fatigue
  • Weakness

If the high blood glucose level is untreated the patient later develops nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, flushed skin, rapid breath, sweet smell from breath, and progresses to confusion and later coma.


Treatment

The blood glucose must be returned to the normal range. This requires the following:

  • Adjust your medication if your doctor has told you so;
  • Test your blood glucose regularly;
  • Take your medication regularly and eat as advised by your dietician;
  • Seek medical aid if you develop a high fever, vomiting, or diarrhoea;
  • If ill, do not stop diabetic medication without first asking the doctor;
  • The treatment of very high blood sugars requires hospital care and the presence of ketones in the urine is also an indication to get urgent medical help.
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