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High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia) (cont.)


When to Seek Medical Care for High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)

If hyperglycemia persists for at least two or three days, or if ketones appear in the urine, call a doctor.

Generally, people with diabetes should test their blood sugar levels at least four times a day: before meals and at bedtime (or following the schedule advised by the prescribed individual diabetes care plan). The urine should be checked for ketones any time the blood sugar level is over 250 mg/dL.

When blood sugar stays high despite following a diabetic diet and plan of care, call the nurse, diabetes health educator, or physician for adjustments in the diet.

If blood sugars are high because of illness, check for ketones and contact a health professional.

Seek immediate medical care for these conditions:

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dehydration
  • Blood sugar levels that stay above 160 mg/dL for longer than a week
  • Glucose readings higher than 300 mg/dL
  • The presence of ketones in the urine

Ketoacidosis or diabetic coma is a medical emergency. Call 911 for emergency transport to a hospital or similar emergency center.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor about High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)

Please ask your health care professional about the following:

  • How to recognize high blood sugar levels
  • How to treat a high blood sugar level when it occurs in you, a family member, or coworkers
  • How to prevent the blood sugar level from becoming too high
  • How to contact the medical staff during an emergency
  • What emergency supplies to carry to treat high blood sugar
  • Additional educational materials regarding high blood sugar

Self-Care at Home for High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)

Check blood sugar levels with a blood glucose meter. If blood sugar level is higher than normal, but there are no symptoms, continue routine care such as:

  • Take all diabetes medications on schedule.
  • Eat regular meals.
  • Drink sugar-free and caffeine-free liquids.
  • Take a blood sugar reading every four hours (write it down) until levels are back to normal.
  • Check urine for ketones (all patients with diabetes) and write down the readings. Follow sick day rules as defined in your diabetes care plan until ketones disappear from urine.

Strategies to lower blood sugar level include:

  • Exercise: A simple way to lower high blood sugar is to exercise. But if blood glucose levels are higher than 240 mg/dL, first check the urine for ketones. If ketones are present, do not exercise. The risk is that blood sugar levels will rise even higher. Talk with the doctor about a safe way to lower blood glucose levels in this situation.
  • Diet: Work with a diabetes health educator or registered dietitian to develop a workable diet plan to manage diabetes.
  • Medication: If diet and exercise are not keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range, the doctor may adjust the amount, timing, or type of medications or insulin.
Last Reviewed 11/17/2017

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