Because so many factors can affect your blood sugar, problems sometimes arise. These conditions require immediate care because if they are left untreated, seizures and loss of consciousness (coma) can occur.
- High blood sugar (hyperglycemia): Your blood sugar level can rise for many reasons, including eating too much, being sick or not taking enough diabetes medicine. Check your blood sugar level often and watch for signs and symptoms of high blood sugar including frequent urination, increased thirst, dry mouth, blurred vision, fatigue and nausea. If you have hyperglycemia, you’ll need to adjust your meal plan and/or medicines.
- Increased ketones in your urine (diabetic ketoacidosis): If your cells are starved for energy, your body may begin to break down fat. This produces toxic acids known as ketones. Watch for loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting, fever, stomach pain and a sweet, fruity breath. You can check your urine for excess ketones with an over-the-counter ketones test kit. If you have excess ketones in your urine, call your doctor right away or seek emergency care. This condition is more common in people with type 1 diabetes.
- Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome: Signs and symptoms of this life-threatening condition include a blood sugar reading over 600 mg/dL (33.3 mmol/L), dry mouth, extreme thirst, fever, drowsiness, confusion, vision loss and hallucinations. Hyperosmolar syndrome is caused by very high blood sugar that turns blood thick and syrupy. It tends to be more common in people with type 2 diabetes and it often follows an illness. Call your doctor or seek immediate medical care if you have signs or symptoms of this condition.
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia): If your blood sugar level drops below what it should be, it’s known as low blood sugar. Your blood sugar level can drop for many reasons, including skipping a meal and more physical activity than normal. However, low blood sugar is most likely to occur if you take diabetes medicines that promote insulin production or if you’re receiving insulin therapy. It’s very important to check your blood sugar level regularly, and watch for signs and symptoms of low blood sugar including sweating, shakiness, weakness, hunger, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, heart palpitations (flutters), feelings of anger, slurred speech, being tired, confusion, fainting and seizures. Low blood sugar is treated with carbohydrates that are quickly taken in by the body, such as fruit juice or glucose pills.