Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Hyperglycemia and Diabetes

Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar (glucose), is a serious health problem for those with diabetes. Hyperglycemia develops when there is too much sugar in the blood. In people with diabetes, there are two specific types of hyperglycemia that occur:

  • Fasting hyperglycemia is defined as a blood sugar greater than 130 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) after fasting for at least 8 hours.
  • Postprandial or after-meal hyperglycemia is defined as a blood sugar usually greater than 180 mg/dL. In people without diabetes postprandial or post-meal sugars rarely go over 140 mg/dL. However, occasionally after a large meal, a 1-2 hour post-meal sugar level can reach 180 mg/dL. Consistently elevated high post-meal blood sugar levels can be an indicator that a person has or is at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes

When a person with diabetes has hyperglycemia frequently or for long periods of time as indicated by a high HbA1c blood test, damage to nerves, blood vessels, and other body organs can occur. Hyperglycemia can also lead to more serious conditions, including ketoacidosis -- mostly in people with type 1 diabetes -- and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS) in people with type 2 diabetes or in people at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Also See:


Diabetes is a serious disease that can cause debilitating nerve pain.

Here's some helpful information:

It's important to treat the symptoms of hyperglycemia promptly to help prevent complications from diabetes.

What Causes Hyperglycemia in Diabetes?

Hyperglycemia in diabetes may be caused by:

  • Skipping or forgetting your insulin or oral glucose-lowering medicine
  • Eating too many grams of carbohydrates for the amount of insulin administered or just eating too many grams of carbohydrates in general
  • Infection
  • Illness
  • Increased stress
  • Decreased activity or exercising less than usual
  • Strenuous physical activity

What Are the Symptoms of Hyperglycemia in Diabetes?

If you have diabetes, it is important to know the early signs of hyperglycemia. If hyperglycemia is left untreated, it may develop into ketoacidosis (if you have type 1 diabetes) or HHNS (if you have type 2 diabetes), both of which are serious emergencies.

Early signs of hyperglycemia in diabetes may include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue (weak, tired feeling)
  • Weight loss
  • Blood sugar more than 180 mg/dL

Prolonged hyperglycemia in diabetes may result in:

  • Vaginal and skin infections
  • Slow-healing cuts and sores
  • Decreased vision
  • Nerve damage causing painful cold or insensitive feet, loss of hair on the lower extremities, and/or erectile dysfunction
  • Stomach and intestinal problems such as chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Damage to your eyes, blood vessels, or kidneys

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections