Don't Ignore These Early Warning Signs of High Blood Sugar

Early detection and treatment of chronic health conditions have been proven to increase the positive outcomes for many patients. This is especially important when you have high blood sugar. Recognizing the early warning signs of prediabetes or diabetes can help you get the treatment you need, manage your disease, and prevent complications.

Medicare Benefits Solutions

Jun 13, 2022

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Importance of Looking for Warning Signs of High Blood Sugar

When your body is functioning normally, the carbohydrates you eat are broken down into sugar, or glucose, which travels from your bloodstream into your cells. The body’s cells use glucose to produce energy and the hormone that facilitates this movement is insulin.

With Type 2 diabetes, your body does not use the insulin produced, and glucose builds up in your blood. Over time, the metabolic process is disrupted. Learning the warning signs of high blood sugar may lead to an early diagnosis. While certain lifestyle changes can help you control and manage your diabetes and possibly reduce the need for more serious medical intervention.

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High Blood Sugar Warning Signs

Undiagnosed and untreated diabetes can lead to complications that impact your major organs. The Mayo Clinic warns that severely high or low blood sugar can cause you to suffer a diabetic coma, which is a grave complication of diabetes, leaving you unable to respond to stimuli.

The American Diabetes Association strongly encourages diabetes education, so people can recognize the symptoms, and get the appropriate tests and care as soon as possible.

Using a computer simulation model, a study published in Diabetes Care set out to project cardiovascular risk reduction relative to the timing of detection and intervention. The findings suggest that early diagnosis and treatment will lead to “substantial health benefits” in reducing cardiovascular outcomes like stroke, amputation and death.

Top 7 Warning Signs of High Blood Sugar

Early signs of a high blood sugar level can be so mild as to be unnoticeable. If you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, be cognizant of the signs of sugar levels being higher than normal. WebMD explains why the following examples may be an early indicator of the disease.

1. Fatigue

When insulin is insufficient to enable glucose transport from the bloodstream to the cells, you may experience fatigue because the cells cannot generate energy without glucose. Note the distinction between fatigue and being tired. We all feel tired now and then, but fatigue goes beyond tired. With fatigue, sleep does not refresh you, and the feeling stays with you throughout the day. Activities that were part of your regular routine before now seem too difficult.

2. Hunger

If it seems like you are always hungry, it may be because you are deprived of the energy you should be getting from glucose when you eat. This leads to a desire to increase consumption. When eating is not followed by an uptick in energy, you tend to reach for more food.

3. Yeast infections

High blood sugar can lead to recurrent yeast infections that cultivate in the folds of your skin, such as the space between fingers and toes, under breasts and in or around genitals. Managing your blood sugar levels can help reduce your risk of infection.

4. Frequent urination

As your blood sugar rises, your kidneys may not be able to keep up with the normal process of reabsorbing glucose. Your body responds by producing more urine to release the excess sugar that cannot be reabsorbed. This creates a cyclical effect. Frequent urination can make you thirsty because your body wants to take in more fluid, which in turn makes you urinate more.

5. Itchy skin

Itchy skin can be a sign of dehydration. When you urinate frequently, your body loses the fluid you need to keep your skin moist. For the same reason, you may also experience a dry mouth.

6. Blurry vision

When there is extreme fluctuation in blood sugar levels from high to low this can affect the shape of your eyes. This can potentially cause swelling of the eye lens and result in blurred vision. Once blood sugar levels stabilize your vision should return to normal.

Other forms of diabetic eye disease include cataracts, glaucoma, macular edema, and diabetic retinopathy. If you suspect you’re experiencing blurred vision due to high blood sugar, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam.

7. Nerve damage

Changes in how your blood flows, which can result from high blood sugar, puts you at risk of nerve damage. Nerve damage caused by diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. Indications of nerve damage include pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the legs and feet. You may also notice that sores and cuts heal more slowly than normal.

How Do I Know if I Have Diabetes?

Complications from diabetes can impact the major systems of your body, including your heart, lungs and kidneys. Getting an early diagnosis is an opportunity for you to try to prevent these complications.

If you identify early warning signs of high blood sugar, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away. If the diagnosis is confirmed, attend all follow-up doctor visits to discuss the best way to manage your symptoms, monitor your condition and avoid complications.

How Will My Doctor Check for Signs of Sugar?

Your healthcare provider may order the following tests to diagnose diabetes:

  • Fasting plasma glucose test, which can be performed in the doctor’s office
  • Random plasma glucose test, which is conducted in a lab
  • Glycated hemoglobin test, often referred to as A1C, is a blood test that measures your blood glucose levels on average over a three-month period
  • Oral glucose tolerance test, which assesses how your body handles drinking a beverage

What Should I Do If I Experience Warning Signs of High Blood Sugar?

If you have diabetes, or if you or your doctor believes you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, here are actions you can take right now:

  • Follow an optimal nutrition plan.
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels.
  • Be diligent about taking prescribed medications as directed.
  • Wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace, especially if you live alone.
  • Make lifestyle changes to control your weight through diet and exercise.

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