The aim of diabetes treatment is to keep blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible. But if you have diabetes, no matter how careful you are, you’re likely to experience hyperglycaemia at some point.
It’s important to be able to recognise and treat hyperglycaemia, as it can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
Occasional mild episodes aren’t usually a cause for concern and can be treated quite easily or may return to normal on their own. However, hyperglycaemia can be potentially dangerous if blood sugar levels become very high or stay high for long periods.
Very high blood sugar levels can cause life-threatening complications, such as:
- diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)– a condition caused by the body needing to break down fat as a source of energy, which can lead to a diabetic coma; this tends to affect people with type 1 diabetes
- hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS)– severe dehydration caused by the body trying to get rid of excess sugar; this tends to affect people with type 2 diabetes
Regularly having high blood sugar levels for long periods of time (over months or years) can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
If you experience hyperglycaemia regularly, speak to your doctor or diabetes care team. You may need to change your treatment or lifestyle to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.