Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can be a scary situation for many people. It affects millions of adults and children alike every year around the world. But don’t worry–the good news is that hyperglycemia can be treated with lifestyle changes, medication, and even surgery in extreme cases.
This post delves into hyperglycemia, its symptoms, treatment options, and tips to help you manage it effectively. You can combat your high blood sugar levels with self-care and knowledge.
Table of Contents
What is Hyperglycemia ?
Hyperglycemia is a condition that occurs when there is an excessive amount of sugar in the blood. This condition is often associated with diabetes mellitus, a chronic disease affecting millions worldwide. When blood sugar levels are too high, it can cause a plethora of symptoms and complications, including fatigue, frequent urination, blurry vision, and even nerve damage.
Unfortunately, hyperglycemia can also lead to more severe health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. However, with proper management and lifestyle changes, individuals with hyperglycemia can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. It is crucial to seek medical attention and follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes to prevent further health complications.
Hyperglycemia is when blood sugar rises above healthy levels, leading to serious health complications. Interestingly, most people with hyperglycemia don’t know they have it until their blood sugar levels reach a certain threshold.
Usually, symptoms of hyperglycemia only appear once blood sugar levels rise above 180 to 200 mg/dL or 10 to 11.1 mmol/L.
This may take many days or weeks, resulting in even more severe symptoms if left untreated.
But in some cases, people with type 2 diabetes who’ve had the condition for a long time may not experience noticeable symptoms. This highlights the importance of regularly monitoring blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent the onset of hyperglycemia.
Early signs and symptoms
- Increased thirst and frequent urination
- Blurry vision
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid heartbeat
Later signs and symptoms
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Dry mouth
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
When to See a Doctor
- If you have been experiencing persistent diarrhea and vomiting that prevents you from keeping any food or fluids down, seek immediate help from your healthcare provider or call 911.
- Additionally, if your blood glucose levels remain above 240 mg/dL (13.3 mmol/L) and you have symptoms of ketones in your urine, you should also seek immediate assistance.
Make an appointment with your health care provider if:
- You may need to seek medical attention if you have been experiencing persistent diarrhea or vomiting but manage to keep some food and beverages down.
- If you have had a fever for more than 24 hours, it is essential to seek medical advice.
- Additionally, if your blood sugar levels remain above 240 mg/dL (13.3 mmol/L) despite treatment and you have ketoacidosis symptoms, getting help is essential.
- Finally, seek medical assistance if you have difficulty keeping your blood glucose within the required range.
Causes with Complete process
During digestion, the body breaks down carbohydrates from foods — such as bread, cereal, fruit, and starchy vegetables — into a type of sugar called glucose. Glucose enters your bloodstream and increases blood sugar levels. In a healthy person, the pancreas responds by secreting insulin, a hormone that helps move the glucose from the bloodstream into cells throughout the body for energy.
In a person with diabetes, either their body does not make enough insulin or the cells don’t respond to it (known as insulin resistance). This can lead to an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream, resulting in hyperglycemia.
Other causes of hyperglycemia include:
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Eating too much
- Low levels of insulin or oral diabetes medications
- Stress or illness
- Drinking alcohol
- Certain medications, such as corticosteroids.
Long-term complications of hyperglycemia can lead to serious health problems, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Nerve damage (neuropathy)
- Kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy) or kidney failure
- heart disease
- Damage to the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy) that could lead to blindness
- Feet problems caused by damaged nerves or poor blood flow can lead to severe skin infections, ulcerations, and, in some extreme cases, amputation.
- Bone and joint problems
- Teeth and gum infections
Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly and working closely with your doctor or healthcare team to prevent these complications is essential.
Hyperglycemia can cause a serious health condition called ketoacidosis. This is when acids in the blood become too high due to a lack of insulin and elevated glucose levels. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent urination/excessive thirst
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Dry mouth
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately.
Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State
Diabetic Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State (DHH) is a condition in which the body produces insulin, but it does not function properly. As a result, blood glucose levels can become highly elevated – more than 600 mg/dL (33.3 mmol/L) without ketoacidosis. This condition prevents the body from using glucose and fats to generate energy.
Consequently, excess glucose is excreted in the urine, which leads to frequent urination. This is a severe complication of hyperglycemia that can lead to coma or death. Symptoms include:
- Extremely high blood sugar levels
- Excessive thirst
- Dry skin and mouth
- Changes in mental status, including confusion, sleeplessness, and disorientation
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
Nursing Interventions for Hyperglycemia
The nursing process is a systematic guide to client-centered care with 5 sequential steps. These are assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
- The nurse collects relevant data from the patient’s history and physical examination. This includes signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia, laboratory tests such as a blood sugar level, and other factors that can help diagnose and manage the condition.
- Evaluate all patients with blood glucose irregularities for changes in consciousness and confusion.
- Assess intake and output – these patients may have an increased thirst and greater urine production.
- Investigate polyphagia – ask the patient how much they eat or if they are constantly hungry.
- Assess potential risk factors for hyperglycemia, such as critical illness, parenteral nutrition, certain medications, etc.
- Examine signs of hyperglycemia-related complications, including wounds that won’t heal, impaired vision, neuropathy, and neuropathic pain.
- Monitor the patient’s feet, as people with prolonged hyperglycemia can easily acquire wounds without notice due to neurological damage.
- Observe vital signs, as high blood sugar may indicate a significant infection or could become diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state.
These individuals will typically require critical care.
Hyperglycemia Nursing Diagnosis
Nursing diagnosis for hyperglycemia is an essential component of managing diabetes. Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to serious health complications, including blindness, kidney failure, and nerve damage. Nurses play a crucial role in ensuring hyperglycemia’s safe and effective management.
By conducting regular assessments, monitoring blood sugar levels, and administering insulin or other medications as needed, nurses can help to prevent hyperglycemia from causing harm to the patient.
Additionally, educating patients with diabetes about the importance of proper diet and exercise can help to prevent or manage hyperglycemia. Through their skilled care and compassionate approach, nurses can make a positive difference in the lives of those living with diabetes.
The nurse should also educate the patient and family to help them better understand hyperglycemia, its signs and symptoms, and how to monitor it. This includes providing instructions on diet, medication administration, lifestyle changes such as exercise, and when to seek medical attention. The nurse will also need to review any potential side effects of medication or other treatments and their possible interactions.
The nurse should also work closely with the patient to develop a plan of action if hyperglycemia is detected, such as an exercise program tailored to the patient’s needs, dietary changes, and how to monitor blood sugar levels effectively.
The nurse should also regularly monitor the patient’s blood glucose levels to remain within the target range. If hyperglycemia is present, the nurse must assess its severity and determine if other interventions are necessary. The nurse may also be responsible for evaluating the success of any treatments or interventions used to control hyperglycemia.
The primary goal of treatment is to lower your blood sugar levels and help prevent the onset of severe health complications. Depending on your condition’s severity, Hyperglycemia treatment may include lifestyle changes, medications, and insulin therapy.
The most important aspect of treating hyperglycemia is to make healthy lifestyle changes. This includes monitoring your diet, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol consumption. Eating smaller meals more frequently and avoiding foods high in sugar or carbohydrates can help control your blood glucose levels.
If lifestyle changes are insufficient, your doctor may prescribe metformin, sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones, or meglitinides to help regulate blood sugar levels. These medications work by increasing the amount of insulin released from the pancreas or making cells more sensitive to insulin.
If your condition is severe and other treatments have not been effective, you may need to undergo insulin therapy. This involves taking synthetic insulin injections regularly to reduce blood sugar levels. Initially, you may need to inject insulin several times a day, but your body may become more responsive after a while, and you will require fewer injections.
How Will You Do Home Treatment As a Nurse?
Home treatment is a critical component of managing hyperglycemia. Nurses should educate patients and families on monitoring blood sugar levels, recognizing hyperglycemia’s signs and symptoms, and intervening when needed. Nurses should also emphasize the importance of lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise in controlling blood glucose levels. Additionally, the nurse should provide clear instructions on administering medications or insulin if necessary.
Finally, the nurse should ensure the patient understands when to seek medical attention for hyperglycemia-related issues. This includes monitoring for symptoms of dehydration, low blood sugar levels, and any other warning signs associated with diabetes.
Many factors can contribute to hyperglycemia, including:
- Not using enough insulin or other diabetes medication
- Not following your diabetes eating plan
- high-fat diet
- lack of physical activity
- Not injecting insulin properly or using expired insulin
- certain medications or medical conditions
- • stress.
It is essential to speak to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk and prevent the onset of hyperglycemia. Keeping track of your diet and exercising regularly.
To help keep your blood sugar within a healthy range:
- Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly
- Get regular physical activity
- Consume a balanced diet
- Limit your intake of alcohol and sugary foods
- Take medications as prescribed by your doctor
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
Taking these steps can help you manage your condition and prevent serious complications. It is also essential to regularly visit your doctor for check-ups and screenings. By staying on top of your health, you can better manage hyperglycemia and live a healthy life.
Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.