Symptoms of Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia

It is important to keep your diabetes record and do everything to regulate your blood glucose levels. However, it is equally important to ensure that you do not end up dealing with two problems – hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) is actually an insulin reaction and can happen when you are on insulin or taking oral medications. Hyperglycemia refers to high blood glucose which can affect you when you have diabetes, either non-insulin-dependent or insulin-dependent. To prevent these issues, you need to know the symptoms of these two conditions.

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia

Both high and low blood sugar levels will cause certain symptoms. Just by developing a better understanding of those symptoms, you can tell if your blood sugar levels are really low or on the higher side. 

1. Symptoms of Hyperglycemia

Early Symptoms

Advanced Symptoms

  • Excessive thirst
  • Concentration problem
  • Severe headaches
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Blood sugar higher than 180 mg/dL
  • Vision problems
  • Skin and vaginal infections
  • Slow-healing of wounds and cuts
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of hair on the lower extremities
  • Damage to your blood vessels, eyes, or kidneys
  • Stomach problems
  • Intestinal issues

It is important to seek medical attention to help treat hyperglycemia or else it may lead to serious complications, including Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS) and diabetic ketoacidosis. Both conditions may cause certain symptoms, such as the following:



Diabetic Ketoacidosis


  • Blood sugar higher than 600 mg/dL
  • Severe thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive urination
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fruity breath
  • Blood sugar higher than 250 mg/dL
  • Thirst that may gradually disappear
  • Parched mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Sleep problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever higher than 101 Fahrenheit
  • Confusion
  • Weakness that affects one side of the body

When to See a Doctor

You should seek immediate medical assistance if:

  • You feel sick and find it impossible to keep fluids and food down.
  • Your blood sugar levels stay higher than 240 mg/dL and you experience symptoms of ketoacidosis.

Call your doctor and make an appointment if:

  • You have vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Your blood glucose levels are above 240 mg/dL even after taking diabetes medication.
  • You have a fever that does not go away after 24 hours.

2. Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

A change in your energy level is among the most common symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. In hypoglycemia, your blood glucose levels are too low, so you are going to experience fatigue and other symptoms too.

Early Symptoms

Advanced Symptoms

  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Irritability
  • Hunger
  • Tingling feeling around the mouth
  • Seizures
  • Blurred vision and other visual disturbances
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Abnormal behavior or confusion

When to See a Doctor

You should talk to your doctor if:

  • You have some symptoms of hypoglycemia when you do not have diabetes.
  • You have diabetes and your hypoglycemia symptoms do not improve with treatment.

You need emergency help if:

  • You have diabetes, lose consciousness, or have a history of hypoglycemia symptoms.

Treatments for Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia

Knowledge about the basic symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia helps you seek treatment in a timely manner. Here are some of the most common treatment options for both the conditions:

1. Treatments for Hyperglycemia

You can try some home remedies to keep things under control but severe hyperglycemia requires emergency help.

Home Treatment

  • Have an active lifestyle and exercise regularly to control blood sugar. Do not exercise in case you have ketones in your urine.
  • Take all your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Always follow a strict eating plan to control your diabetes. Avoid sugary beverages and eat less to get good results.
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels and check frequently to deal with hyperglycemia.
  • Work with your doctor to adjust your insulin dose to control your symptoms.

Emergency Treatment

You may need emergency treatment in case you experience any symptoms of HHNS or diabetic ketoacidosis. You treatment may include the following:

  • You will receive fluids intravenously or orally to help stay hydrated. You need fluid replacement when you have lost it through excessive urination.
  • You may receive electrolytes to ensure your tissues keep functioning properly. A lack of insulin may require electrolyte replacement through veins.
  • You may need insulin therapy to help reverse the process that leads to the formation of ketones in your blood.

2. Treatments for Hypoglycemia

Now you know the symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, so when symptoms of hypoglycemia occur, be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels properly and use a blood glucose meter for quick results. If it is too low, drink something that contains carbs or sugar. Eating certain foods may help push your blood sugar level up quickly. For instance, you can consume:

  • Five pieces of hard candy
  • About 4 oz. of fruit juice or regular soda (not diet)
  • A tablespoon of jelly, sugar, or honey
  • A serving of glucose gel
  • Three glucose tablets

If you have recurring symptoms of hypoglycemia, it is a good idea to always keep one sugar item with you wherever you go. You can eat it to help improve your condition. Be sure to check your blood sugar about 15 minutes after eating something sugary and sweet. Eat something else if your blood sugar is still too low.

Treatment for Difficult-to-Manage Hypoglycemia

Even after adjusting medications, many people may still experience frequent and severe hypoglycemia. If that is the case, your doctor may prescribe a hormone called glucagon that helps your blood sugar levels to rise. You can get glucagon only by prescription. It is available in an emergency syringe kit which includes one dose that you need to mix before injecting.

Be sure to store it at room temperature only and do not use it if it has expired. Keep in mind that if someone becomes unconscious and does not respond in 15 minutes of taking the injection, it is important to seek medical help immediately. 

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