High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)


High blood sugars cause frequent urination, that fuzzy feeling on your teeth, excessive thirst, and a feeling of lethargy across the board ... the experience of a high blood sugar can completely drain you of your energy.

High blood sugar occurs when you have too little insulin in your system, usually caused by eating too much food relative to the amount of insulin taken, missing an insulin injection, a blockage in insulin pump tubing, or a disconnected insulin pump infusion set.

And it's not just technical difficulties that can cause high blood sugar - illness and stress have a strong influence on blood sugars, too. There are a lot of variables in place that can make your numbers run high.

Treating a high blood sugar takes time and patience, and usually insulin. Exercise is also an important option when it comes to lowering blood sugar, but you want to be careful about exercising while high because of ketones. If your blood sugar is over 240 mg/dL, be sure to check for ketones before exercising, as exercising with ketones can cause diabetic ketoacidosis.

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a very serious situation that requires emergency medical treatment. (As we mentioned earlier, hyperglycemia can also be caused by eating too much food, which requires treatment to lower blood sugar levels but which does not lead to DKA.) DKA is caused by a profound lack of circulating insulin. The body starts using stored fat for energy, and ketone bodies (acids) build up in the blood. Ketoacidosis starts slowly and builds up. The signs include nausea and vomiting, which can lead to loss of water from the body, stomach pain, and deep and rapid breathing. Other signs are a flushed face, dry skin and mouth, a fruity breath odor, a rapid and weak pulse, and low blood pressure. If the person is not given fluids and insulin right away, ketoacidosis can lead to coma and even death.

High blood sugars are serious business, but with diligent blood sugar monitoring, it's very possible for people with diabetes to keep tabs on their numbers before highs become problematic.


Symptoms of high blood sugars vary from person to person, but the standard symptoms* are usually:

  • High blood sugar
  • High levels of sugar in the urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst

* symptom list from the American Diabetes Association