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Managing Diabetes: High Blood Sugar

What is High Blood Sugar?

When your body does not have insulin, sugar cannot enter the body cells. The amount of sugar in the blood rises while the cells are actually starving. Because the body cannot use sugar for energy without insulin, fat is broken down and used instead. Acids from the fat build up in the bloodstream. As the level of sugar and acids in the blood rises, you become sick. We call this high blood sugar, or ketoacidosis.

What Causes High Blood Sugar?

High blood sugar occurs when food, exercise and insulin are not in balance. Illness is actually the most common cause for high blood sugar. High blood sugar can also occur when:

  • Not enough insulin is taken or an insulin dose is skipped entirely.
  • Too much food, especially sugary foods, are eaten.
  • You are sick.
  • You are upset.

How Will I Know If My Blood Sugar Is Too High?

Signs of high blood sugar include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Thirst or dry mouth
  • Lack of energy
  • Nausea or stomach pain
  • Blood sugars consistently over 200, when monitored

What Should I Do About High Blood Sugar?

You should always check your urine for acetone if your blood sugar has been high for several tests and you are noticing an increase in urination or thirst. If your urine is positive for ketones, you will need to take more insulin. The dosage in your next injection may simply be increased, or you may need to take an extra shot, depending on your other symptoms. You will also need to watch your diet closely and avoid concentrated sweets. If you are urinating a lot, you need to be sure to drink lots of sugar-free liquids.

When Should I Contact My Doctor?

You should always contact your doctor promptly if:

  • Your blood sugar is 300-400 for more than two tests.
  • You have moderate or large amounts of acetone in your urine.
  • You are beginning to get dehydrated: dry mouth, no tears, very dark concentrated urine.
  • You begin to vomit.
  • Your breathing becomes fast and deep—you feel "out of breath."

How Can I Prevent High Blood Sugar?

  • Stick to your diet plan; plan ahead for "treats" as instructed.
  • Always test your blood sugar regularly. Contact our office if your blood sugar is greater than 200 for more than two days.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Never skip an insulin dose.