Skip to main content

Diabetic Hyperglycemia

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.

What is diabetic hyperglycemia?

Diabetic hyperglycemia is a blood glucose (sugar) level that is higher than your diabetes care team provider recommends. You may not have any signs and symptoms. You may have more thirst and urinate more often than usual.

What increases my risk for diabetic hyperglycemia?

  • You do not follow your meal plan.
  • You exercise less than usual.
  • You do not take your insulin or diabetes medicine as directed.
  • You have an illness, such as a cold, the flu, or pneumonia.
  • You have more stress than usual.

Why is it important to manage diabetic hyperglycemia?

Over time, hyperglycemia can damage your nerves, blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Damage to arteries may increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Nerve damage may also lead to other heart, stomach, and nerve problems. If diabetic hyperglycemia is not controlled, it can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state (HHS). These are serious conditions that can become life-threatening.

How do I manage diabetic hyperglycemia?

  • If you take diabetes medicine or insulin, take it as directed. Missed or wrong doses can cause your blood sugar level to go up.
  • Tell your diabetes care team provider if you continue to have trouble managing your blood sugar level. He or she 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 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.

How do I prevent diabetic hyperglycemia?

  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly. Ask your diabetes care team provider how often to check your blood sugar and what your levels should be.
    How to check your blood sugar
    Continuous Glucose Monitoring
  • 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.
  • Get physical activity as directed. Physical activity, such as exercise, can help lower your blood sugar when it is high. It also can keep your blood sugar levels steady over time. Be active for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Include muscle strengthening activities 2 days each week. Do not sit for longer than 30 minutes at a time. Work with your provider to create an activity 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 provider how to lower your blood sugar when you have ketones.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You begin to breathe fast or are short of breath.
  • You become weak and confused.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your blood sugar level is over 240 mg/dL and you have ketones in your urine.
  • Your breath smells fruity.
  • You have nausea and are vomiting.
  • You have symptoms of dehydration, such as dark yellow urine, dry mouth and lips, and dry skin.

When should I call my diabetes care team provider?

  • You continue to have higher blood sugar levels than your provider recommends.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2022 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 IBM Watson Health

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.