What is a hyperglycemia?

Health and diabetes

Hyperglycemia is defined as the increase of blood sugar levels, that can happen occasionally or continuously. People who is not familiar with diabetes call this “to have high sugar levels”, and this can happen both to people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

We will consider it hyperglycemia when, talking about a person with diabetes, their blood sugar levels are higher than what is considered target levels. Generically speaking, we are talking about hyperglycemia when levels are higher than 130 mg/dl while fasting or before meals, and higher than 180mg/dl after meals.

Blood sugar levels are considered too high when they are above 250 mg/dl. If we reach these levels, we should check our ketone levels in our blood or urine. This is extremely important when we are talking about people with type 1 diabetes.

Why does hyperglycemia take place?

The reasons why somebody with type 1 diabetes can suffer a hyperglycemia are usually caused by the own body, that cannot count with an enough insulin amount. This can be because it has not been injected or due to stress or other diseases, but it can also be because there is an excess of counter-regulating hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, glucagon…) that lead to an increase of glycaemia.

Hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes patients usually takes place because the body cannot use insulin in a correct way. Besides, some type of drugs can cause an increase in blood sugar levels.

Hyperglycemia causes

There are several reasons why hyperglycemia can take place, but among the most frequent ones we can find:

Reasons related to insulin or other treatments for diabetes:

  • to take a lower insulin dose than needed
  • to miss an insulin dose
  • to take insulin injections in parts where the absorption can be lower
  • to use expired or damaged insulin

Reasons related to food or drink intake:

  • the intake of a higher amount of carbs than recommended

Reasons related with physical activity:

  • to have less exercise than usual
  • anaerobic exercise or when performed under stress conditions can also lead to hyperglycemia

Reasons related to stress:

  • this can be caused by metabolic stress due to a frequent disease (infections, pharyngitis, surgery, or even the flu)
  • also emotional stress (caused by familiar problems, problems at school or work, etc.)

In relation to our hormonal system, the dawn phenomenon can take place. This is an increase in our counter-regulating hormones, produced by our organism daily, around 04 a.m.-05 a.m.

Reasons related to medication intake:

  • n some cases, our doctor can prescribe us drugs that increase our blood sugar levels (i.e. corticosteroids), but that are essential to treat some disease
  • some drugs can also contain sucrose in their composition and this can affect glycemia levels

Symptoms of hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia can produce several symptoms. Among the most frequent:

  • polyuria (a frequent need to urinate) or nocturnal enuresis (bed-wetting)
  • polydipsia (an extreme need to drink, excessive thirst)
  • nausea and vomit
  • tiredness and sleepiness
  • dryness in lips and tongue
  • irritability
  • blurry vision
  • belly pain
  • yeast infection (when hyperglycemia is constant)
  • delayed healing of wounds (when hyperglycemia is constant and diabetes controlled non-efficiently)

*these sypmtoms can also take place with ketoacidosis.

What to do in a case of hyperglycemia?

  • First of all, we should know the reasons for the hyperglycemia
  • We need to drink plenty. Water is the best option, avoiding any drink with sugar (no soda, coke, or juice)
  • We also need to increase our blood sugar or even ketone levels tests, specially when glycemias reach 250mg/dl. This way we can avoid complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis (on type 1 diabetes patients) or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) in type 2 diabetes patients.
  • If there are no ketone bodies, to do some physical activity is recommended whenever there is no disease that impedes this.
  • Make sure you are taking the corrective treatment recommended by the healthcare professional and do not stop your basal treatment.
  • Eat food with a low glycemic index.
  • In the case of children of teenagers during the school period, it is important to keep teachers and professors informed so they can give them access to liquids and the toilet whenever they may need it.
  • If these high blood sugar levels are kept for days, it is recommended to ask the healthcare professional in case it is needed to readjust our treatment.

Some advice to prevent hyperglycemias

  • Always try to have control of your diabetes, according to your personal objectives. Remember that we are all different and amounts and levels may change, so set your targets with your healthcare professional.
  • Keep your insulin and medication under optimal conditions regarding storage. Do not take your medications if you have doubts they might be damaged.
  • If you use insulin or other antidiabetes injections, do not forget it is very important to change the injection area. If you always take your doses in the same place, the absorption will be more difficult and the effect will not be the same.
  • If you carry an insulin pump, we recommend you to check all its components every now and then to make sure they are in perfect conditions.
  • Try to be active and do some physical exercise according to your possibilities: small changes in your daily habits can really improve your diabetes control (i.e. taking the stairs, walking, dancing…). This exercise must be appropriate to you, aerobical, and take place daily or almost daily during the same amount of time and at the same intensity. Try searching for activities you are interested in to avoid losing interest.
  • If you have doubts regarding types of food, physical exercise our your treatment, do not hesitate to contact a healthcare professional or caregiver.
  • Do not forget that with diabetes, even when having a good control of the disease there can be situations that may alter our sugar levels. The important thing here is to detect them in time and correct them appropriately.

Types of insulin: short-acting and ultra-short-acting insulin

Health and diabetes

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps adjusting your blood sugar levels in blood. This hormone is vital for the transmission and storage of glucose in our cells, and it helps using this glucose as an energy source for our organism.

Insulin acts as a key, allowing the entrance of glucose to cells. If glucose cannot enter cells, it ends up accumulating in blood.

But, did you know there are different types of insulin? We tell you all you need to know about them.

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How is diabetic neuropathy diagnosed?

Health and diabetes

How is diabetic neuropathy diagnosed?

Diabetic neuropathy can be diagnosed taking into account a reported symptomatology, besides the clinical history and a physical examination of the patient. During the examination, the doctor is likely to check strength, muscle tone, osteotendinous reflexes, and sensitivity to touch, temperature, and vibration. The following complementary tests are also usually carried out according to each case:

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Insulin sensitivity or correction factor

Health and diabetes

Insulin Sensitivity Factor (ISF) indicates how much one unit of rapid or regular insulin will lower the blood glucose (mg/dll or g/mol).

The correction factor is the calculation to determine the dose of insulin necessary to correct the glycemia.

The insulin sensitivity factor may vary and be different from one time of the day to another even is possible that varies significantly between the disease stages.

When to use insulin correction factor?

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The yesterday and today of diabetes. Insulclock

Health and diabetes

We are conscious that yesterday and today of diabetes are not the same. The development of the control and treatment criteria have been very relevant for the management of this disease.

With this new section we are going to travel across the time, sharing with you the diabetes’ evolution during all these years. Week after week, we will add new content with your help. Yes, that is! We want you to help us to fill out this section with before and after photos of diabetes control. Continue reading »

Insulin needles “ARE NOT REUSABLE”

Health and diabetes

The Spanish Public Healthcare System finances the insulin needles to insert in the pen. Necessary trips to monitor the glycemia are also financed.

Currently, many people complain that there is not enough resources, but above all else, they are complaining about the bad quality of what the healthcare system delivers. Patients will receive different brands or models depending on patient’s residence. Even in some healthcare centres where economic factor is scarce, they recommend to reuse needles. It is not the first time that a patient is heard complaining because a healthcare centre does not deliver enough needles, and tell him or her to reuse the needle.

It is forbidden by the Spanish law and by European regulation (explicitly written on the product packaging), needles cannot be used more than once, are not reusable. It must be used one new needle for every shot. Continue reading »