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High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia) (cont.)

High Blood Sugar Symptoms

A high blood sugar level itself is a symptom of diabetes. However, an individual experiencing hyperglycemia may have no symptoms at all.

Common symptoms can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Urination during the night
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite

If hyperglycemia persists for several hours and leads to dehydration, other symptoms may develop, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Increased drowsiness and confusion
  • Unconsciousness or coma

Left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to a condition called ketoacidosis, also known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or diabetic coma. This occurs because the body has insufficient insulin to process glucose into fuel, so the body breaks down fats to use for energy. When the body breaks down fat, ketones are produced as by-products. Some ketones are eliminated via the urine, but not all. Until the patient is rehydrated, and adequate insulin action is restored, ketones remain in the blood. Ketones in the blood cause nausea, headache, fatigue, or vomiting.

Ketoacidosis is life-threatening and demands immediate treatment.

Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Breath that smells fruity
  • Stomach pain
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/2/2014

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State »

Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) is one of two serious metabolic derangements that occurs in patients with diabetes mellitus and can be a life-threatening emergency.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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