What is hyperglycemia?
High blood sugar levels, officially known as hyperglycemia, occur when the body has too little insulin or can’t use the insulin that it makes properly.
What are the symptoms of hyperglycemia?
Although some people don't feel any different despite high blood sugar levels, symptoms may include:
- Feeling very thirsty.
- Urinating more often than usual.
- Feeling very tired.
What causes hyperglycemia?
A number of things can cause hyperglycemia:
- Not taking enough of your diabetes medication.
- You ate more than you planned, or exercised less than you planned.
- Illness, such as a cold or the flu.
- Having emotional stresses in your life, such as family conflicts, or school or work problems.
It is important to keep your A1C and blood glucose levels in their target ranges to avoid prolonged hypoglycemia.
What are my target A1C and blood glucose levels?
According to Diabetes Canada clinical practice guidelines, the following are A1C and blood glucose targets for people with diabetes:
- Your A1C shows your average blood glucose levels over the past two to three months. The A1C target for most people with diabetes is 7% or lower.
- There are two target blood glucose levels for people with diabetes:
- The fasting blood glucose target is 4 mmol/L to 7 mmol/L. (Fasting is when you haven’t eaten or had any liquids for eight hours or longer.)
- The blood glucose target two hours after a meal is 5 mmol/L to 10 mmol/L (or 5.0 mmol/L to 8.0 mmol/L, if your A1C level is too high, and if you can reach this target safely)
When these targets are not reached, you could be at risk of hyperglycemia and the diabetes complications that high blood sugar levels cause.
What are the complications of diabetes?
The complications of diabetes are overwhelmingly due to prolonged hyperglycemia. The longer you have diabetes — and the less controlled your blood glucose levels – the higher the risk of complications. Diabetes complications associated with hyperglycemia include heart disease, stroke, eye damage, nerve damage and kidney damage. For more information about diabetes complications, click here.
How can I avoid hyperglycemia and diabetes complications?
The three cornerstones of diabetes management are:
- Taking all your medications as prescribed by your healthcare team. The purpose of diabetes medications is to lower your blood glucose levels, thereby preventing hyperglycemia. For more information about medications, click here.
- Eating healthy foods and planning your meals. What you eat, and how much you eat, both play an important role in ensuring that you maintain good health and a healthy weight. Eating healthy meals is a very important way that you can ensure that your blood glucose levels remain in their targets ranges. For more information about meal planning, click here.
- Exercising regularly. Physical activity is known to lower blood glucose levels, so regular exercise is very important. For more information about physical activity, click here.
By monitoring your blood sugar on a regular basis, you will be able to determine if these management strategies are working for you.