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When it comes to hyperglycemia, the best defense is a good offense. Knowing what causes high blood sugar can help you be proactive, prevent highs from happening in the first place, and treat them quickly when they do happen, so you can move on with your day.
That said, hyperglycemia happens. When that high reading inevitably hits, try a technique to help you stay calm. Think of the number on your meter as just another data point giving you information about your body. There’s no such thing as “good blood sugar” or “bad blood sugar,” just information that can help you take action to feel better and be healthier. An optimistic and curious mindset goes a long way toward making the highs and lows of living with diabetes a little bit easier.
What is Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)?
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) means there’s too much glucose in the blood. Technically speaking, hyperglycemia happens when your blood glucose level is above 125 mg/dL while fasting, though symptoms don’t typically show up until blood glucose levels are above 180 or 200 mg/dL.
Symptoms of high blood sugar can include urinating more than usual, increased thirst, blurry vision, and feeling especially weak or tired. Left untreated, high blood sugar can cause ketones (acetone, acetoacetic acid, and beta-hydroxybutyric acid) to build up in the blood. This is a serious condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
If you’re feeling any of the symptoms of DKA—nausea, vomiting, dehydration, fatigue, difficulty breathing, fruity-smelling breath—call your doctor immediately and go to the nearest emergency room.
Understanding what causes high blood sugar is the best way to prevent it. We’ve put together common causes of hyperglycemia both for people who use insulin and people who don’t. Consider bookmarking this post or printing out the charts below for easy reference.
Always talk to your healthcare provider before making changes to your medication, diet, or exercise routines. Reach out to your One Drop clinical health coach to help you identify the cause of your hyperglycemia and find solutions that work for you!
This article has been clinically reviewed by Alexa Stelzer, RDN, LD, CDCES, clinical health coach at One Drop.