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The #1 Sign Your Blood Sugar is "Dangerously High"

Doctors explain symptoms of high blood sugar to watch out for. 
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Managing your blood sugar as a diabetic can be an everyday struggle, but when levels are out of the target range, serious health issues like heart disease, vision loss, kidney disease and more, can happen. Knowing what fluxuates your blood sugar and what the signs are that it's dangerously high can be a matter of life or death. "If you have diabetes, it's essential to keep an eye out for high blood sugar levels. But even if you don't have diabetes, there are warning signs of high blood sugar that everyone should be aware of," Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies told Eat This, Not That! Health. Read on to learn about the symptoms of high blood sugar to watch out for—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

What is Blood Sugar

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Dr. Theodore Strange, Chair of Medicine at Staten Island University says, "Glucose, which is the same as blood sugar, is the main sugar found in human blood, IT comes from food ingested, is stored in the liver and is the body's main source of energy for the cells to function. Without blood glucose, all body functions would not work.  Diabetes is a disease of elevated blood sugar levels on an ongoing basis."

2

What Can Happen if Blood Sugar is Too High

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According to Dr. Strange, "Blood sugars that remain high can cause damage to body organs like the eyes, the kidney, and the heart.  Normal blood sugar levels are 70 100 mg/dl fasting and less than 140mg/m dl within 2 hours of eating, Another test used is called the Hgb A1c which measures the average blood sugar levels for 3 months and an A1c level above 7 % is considered abnormal and diabetes. When the blood sugar is dangerously high, which is usually 500mg/dl and greater, it could be very serious and life threatening."

3

Excessive Thirst

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Dr. Mitchell explains, "Excessive thirst is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes, a condition that occurs when the body is unable to properly process and use the sugar that is present in food. Without adequate insulin to transport glucose into cells for energy, it can build up in the bloodstream and cause blood sugar levels to rise dangerously high. One of the ways that your body tries to counteract this process is by signaling you to drink more water. When your blood sugar levels are too high, the excess glucose gets pulled from your blood and converted into a form that your body can use, but unfortunately this causes excess urination. This can lead to dehydration, leading to even more thirst as your body tries to compensate for lost water. If you notice excessive thirst along with other symptoms like weight loss, irritability, or frequent infections, it's important to speak with your doctor as soon as possible. By getting tested early on and making changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can better manage your diabetes and prevent further health complications down the road."

4

Frequent Urination

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"When people think of diabetes, they usually think of sugar," says Dr. Mitchell. "And it's true that one of the hallmarks of the disease is high blood sugar levels. But sugar isn't the only thing that can throw off your blood sugar levels. Another symptom of diabetes is frequent urination. When your blood sugar levels are too high, your body tries to get rid of the excess sugar by flushing it out in your urine. As a result, you may find yourself needing to urinate more frequently than usual. This can be especially bothersome at night, when you may need to get up several times to go to the bathroom. If you're noticing an increase in trips to the bathroom, it may be a sign that your blood sugar levels are out of balance. A simple blood test can confirm whether or not you have diabetes. So if you're urinating more often than normal, it's worth getting checked out by a doctor."

5

Fatigue

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Dr. Mitchell states, "Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes. It is also one of the most underestimated and undertreated symptoms. Fatigue can be described as feeling tired, drained, or easily exhausted. It can be accompanied by a loss of motivation and interest in activities that were once enjoyed. Fatigue can beiner ignored because it is often chalked up to stress or a busy lifestyle. However, if fatigue is severe and persistent, it could be a sign of diabetes. Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to properly process glucose. Glucose is essential for energy, and when there is too much glucose in the blood, it can lead to fatigue. This is because the body has to work harder to process the excess glucose. Over time, this can lead to exhaustion. If you are experiencing fatigue, it is important to talk to your doctor. fatigue can be a sign of diabetes, so early diagnosis and treatment is essential."

6

Blurred Vision

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Diabetes is a serious condition that can cause a number of other health problems, including vision problems," Dr. Mitchell shares. "One common symptom of diabetes is blurred vision. This happens when the body's changing blood sugar levels cause the lens of the eye to swell. As a result, the image that the eye sees is blurred. In some cases, blurred vision can also be a sign of diabetic retinopathy, a condition that occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness. As you can see, blurred vision is just one way that diabetes can affect your sight. If you have diabetes, it's important to get your eyes checked regularly so that any vision problems can be diagnosed and treated early."

7

Slow-Healing Wounds

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Dr. Mitchell says, "Slow-healing wounds are one of the many signs that a person may be suffering from diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high, circulation is impacted, resulting in decreased oxygen and nutrient availability to delicate tissues and skin. As a result, wounds on the body can take much longer to heal than usual. Another symptom of diabetic wound healing issues is increased numbness and/or tingling in the extremities, such as hands and feet. These patients often report having difficulty feeling sensations such as pinpricks or minor cuts, further increasing their risk of developing an infection. Ultimately, the best way to prevent these types of manageable ailments is by managing diabetes effectively through diet, exercise, medication, and other key lifestyle factors. With proper treatment and care, those living with diabetes can enjoy a long and healthy life free from slow-healing wounds."

8

Other Warning Signs of High Blood Sugar to Take Seriously

Doctor with glucometer and insulin pen device talking to male patient at medical office in hospital.
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According to Dr. Strange, "Symptoms of elevated blood sugar can include fatigue, increased thirst, frequent urination, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting just to name a few and most common. 

  1. A change in mental status and personality including sleepiness and confusion 
  2. Severe lethargy and /or coma state 
  3. Lack of sweating with very dry skin 
  4. Dehydration 
  5. Vision issues 
  6. Fever greater than 101F" 
Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more
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