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April 24, 2001

Hyperglycemia and DKA

Question from LaJose, Pennsylvania, USA:

I am a 36 year old male who has had diabetes for 17 years. Recently, I had a three week period were my sugars were running over 400 mg/dl [22.2 mmol/L]. Could you tell me how this has possibly hurt my body?

Answer:

Blood sugar levels, when in the range of 400 mg/dl [22.2 mmol/L] which last only for a relatively short period of time (in your case, for several weeks), don’t hurt your body provided that your average hemoglobin A1c levels keep sufficiently close to target values. I must also say that you should be able to handle this random levels so high for whatever reason they were high, in a much shorter time through adjustment of your insulin program.

MS

[Editor’s comment: Of course, there is always the risk that anyone running blood sugars in the range of 400 mg/dl [22.2 mmol/L], might suddenly become ill with DKA [diabetic ketoacidosis]. Hence, we are very uncomfortable when we hear of such situations as you describe.

WWQ]