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This is What High Blood Sugar Does to Your Body

Four signs of high blood sugar to watch out for. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 37 million people are living with diabetes and anyone with the condition knows controlling their blood sugar is vital for overall health and well-being. "Hyperglycemia, or high blood glucose, occurs when there is too much sugar in the blood. This happens when your body has too little insulin (the hormone that transports glucose into the blood), or if your body can't use insulin properly. The condition is most often linked with diabetes," the Cleveland Clinic states. If blood sugar isn't managed, health complications can arise and Eat This, Not That Health spoke with Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a registered nurse at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in oncology clinical trials and over 15 years of direct patient care experience who explains how high blood sugar can affect you.  Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Why Blood Sugar is Important

Stressed unhappy woman touching forehead, suffering from strong headache or chronic migraine

Marchese tells us, "Blood sugar is the glucose level in your bloodstream and the body's primary energy source. You get glucose and other sugars from the foods you eat, which your blood carries throughout your body to provide energy to cells. Too little blood sugar can lead to shakiness, headaches, nerve pain and dizziness. Low blood sugar can cause confusion, slurred speech, blurry vision, loss of consciousness and seizures if left untreated."


Who is at Risk for High Blood Sugar?

overweight woman at home lying on the floor, laptop in front of her, prepared to work out on mat according to video

According to Marchese, "Significant risk factors for high blood sugar include hypertension, obesity, a history of gestational diabetes, high cholesterol or a family history of type 2 diabetes. Certain ethnicities, including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans, also have a higher risk of high blood sugar."


Increased Thirst

Close-up of pretty young woman drinking water from glass

Marchese says, "High levels of blood sugar can dehydrate tissues in the body. Cells need water for energy and nutrients. As blood sugar increases, your body will create a sensation of thirst to help replace the water you've lost and flush extra sugar from the body."


Increased Urination


"The kidneys are responsible for processing extra glucose," Marchese explains. "Increased blood sugar leads to more frequent urination as your body processes the extra glucose and excretes it as waste."


Skin Damage

Unhappy woman wearing white bath towel checking skin after shower, looking in mirror, touching face skin.

Marchese states, "Dehydration from high blood sugar can create skin damage, including dry, itchy and cracked skin. Damaged skin can lead to a higher risk of infection, which can cause severe complications for those with chronic high blood sugar."


Vision Problems

Woman rubbing her eyes.

Marchese explains "The eyes require adequate hydration to function and provide clear vision. As blood sugar increases, the fluid levels in your eyes may decrease, making it harder to focus. High glucose can also damage the blood vessels and nerves in the eye, leading to permanent vision loss." 

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 about Heather
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