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This is What it Feels Like to Have High Blood Sugar

What to know about high blood sugar. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

High blood sugar is a serious health concern that mostly affects people with diabetes and if left untreated can lead to major complications like vision loss, kidney disease and heart disease. There's several reasons why blood sugar can spike like not eating the right foods, dehydration, not being active and more, but when blood sugar goes up, it can feel awful. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with  Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Urgent Care Medical Director and Physician, Carbon Health and Saint Mary's Hospital who explained what to know about high blood sugar and what it can feel like. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What's Considered High Blood Sugar and How Can You Check It?

female using lancelet on finger to checking blood sugar level by Glucose meter

Dr. Curry-Winchell says, "The best way to check your blood sugar (glucose) levels is when you haven't eaten anything. We call that your normal fasting blood sugar. While there's a number of factors that can impact your blood sugar levels, we like to say "normal" is generally between 70 to 130 mg/dL. The best way to check your blood sugar is with a blood glucose meter which is widely available and an affordable option. " 


Why is Blood Sugar Important for Overall Health?

A young diabetic woman checking her blood sugar levels at home

"In short, blood sugar supplies our energy," Dr. Curry-Winchell states. "It's really important to keep our blood sugar in a good range to reduce the risk of serious health issues including diabetes and heart disease. " 


Do People Who Don't Have Diabetes Have to Worry About Managing Their Blood Sugar?

woman boxing in a gym

According to Dr. Curry-Winchell, "For people without diabetes, your body should  naturally regulate blood sugar levels however, this could change – and that's why it's important for people to have a baseline knowledge of how to manage blood sugar levels through exercise and watching what you eat. " 


What Does High Blood Sugar Feel Like?

Close-up of pretty young woman drinking water from glass

Dr. Curry-Winchell explains, "Typically, people won't experience significant symptoms until their blood sugar levels have spiked significantly. The most common feelings are fatigue, headaches, increased thirst, and a frequent urination. More serious symptoms include vomiting, shortness of breath and abdominal pain. " 


​​How High Blood Sugar Can Affect Daily Life

feeling moody

"Flat out, your blood sugar is your body's main source of energy so that's why it's vital to keep it in control," Dr. Curry-Winchell emphasizes. "If you have regular shifts in your blood sugar levels it could impact your mood, concentration, heart rate, etc."   


Complications of High Blood Sugar

man hold his had and suffering from headache, pain, migraine

"Too much (glucose) or sugar in the bloodstream for long periods of time can be described as toxic and can cause permanent damage to your organs and blood vessels within your body which can cause kidney disease or failure, stroke, heart attack and blindness," says Dr. Curry-Winchell.


Lifestyle Changes that can Help Manage High Blood Sugar


​​Dr. Curry-Winchell reminds us, "As they say, slow and steady wins the race. Maintaining a healthy weight, doing some regular exercises, and eating a well-balanced diet will put you in control. Yes, it might sound cliché – but try it, and I guarantee you'll see some changes in the right direction. "

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