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Diabetic Hyperglycemia


Diabetic hyperglycemia is a blood glucose (sugar) level that is higher than your healthcare provider recommends. You may have increased thirst and urinate more often than usual. Over time, uncontrolled diabetes can damage your nerves, blood vessels, tissues, and organs. That is why it is important to manage diabetic hyperglycemia. Without treatment, diabetic hyperglycemia can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state (HHS). These are serious conditions that can become life-threatening.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have shortness of breath.
  • Your breath smells fruity.
  • You have nausea and vomiting.
  • You have symptoms of dehydration, such as dark yellow urine, dry mouth and lips, and dry skin.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You continue to have higher blood sugar levels than your healthcare provider recommends.
  • Your blood sugar level is over 240 mg/dl and you have ketones in your urine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines such as insulin and hypoglycemic medicine decrease blood sugar levels.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or specialist as directed:

Your healthcare provider may refer you to a dietitian or diabetes specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage diabetic hyperglycemia:

  • If you take diabetes medicine or insulin, take it as directed. Missed or wrong doses can cause your blood sugar to go up.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you continue to have trouble managing your blood sugar. He may change the type, amount, or timing of your diabetes medicine or insulin. If you do not take diabetes medicine or insulin, you may need to start.
  • Work with your healthcare provider to develop a sick day plan. Illness can cause your blood sugar to rise. A sick day plan helps you control your blood sugar level when you are sick.

Prevent diabetic hyperglycemia:

  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly. Ask your healthcare provider how often to check your blood sugar and what your levels should be.
  • Follow your meal plan. Your blood sugar can go up if you eat a large meal or you eat more carbohydrates than recommended. Work with a dietitian to develop a meal plan that is right for you.
  • Exercise regularly to help lower your blood sugar when it is high. It can also keep your blood sugar levels steady over time. Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Include muscle strengthening activities 2 days each week. Do not sit for longer than 90 minutes at a time. Work with your healthcare provider to create an exercise plan. Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • Check your ketones before exercise if your blood sugar level is above 240 mg/dl. Do not exercise if you have ketones in your urine, because your blood sugar level may rise even more. Ask your healthcare provider how to lower your blood sugar when you have ketones.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.