What is hyperglycaemia?
Hyperglycaemia – also known as ‘hypers’ or ‘highs’ – occurs when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal. A high blood glucose level is usually 7 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) before meals, and above 8.5mmol/L after meals (though these may vary from your individual blood glucose targets). Both people with type 1 and people with type 2 diabetes experience hypers.
While it’s normal for your blood glucose levels to go up and down throughout the day, having consistently high levels of more than 10mmol/L over the course of weeks or months can cause complications. This is why it’s important to regularly check your levels and seek help from your GP, endocrinologist or diabetes educator if your readings are high over a sustained period of time.
What causes hypers?
There are many factors that can cause your blood glucose levels to rise. Some of the most common are:
- Missing or skipping a dose of insulin or medication
- Feeling excessively stressed out
- Being less active than usual
- Eating too many carbohydrates
- Feeling unwell after having an infection
- Over-treating hypos (low blood glucose levels)
What are the warning signs?
- Excessive thirst
- Frequently passing large volumes of urine
- Blurry vision
- Tiredness or fatigue
How should I treat them?
Take action against hypers by:
- Going for a walk to help lower your blood glucose levels – just remember not to overdo it as high-intensity exercise can cause your levels to rise again.
- Drinking plenty of sugar-free fluids
- If your blood glucose levels remain over 15mmol/L for more than 8-12 hours; or you are vomiting to the point where you’re unable to drink and are having difficulty eating; or there are moderate to large ketones in your urine, contact your doctor for advice, or head to the hospital.
How can I prevent them?
Ward off hypers by:
- Keeping track of your carbohydrate intake, so you can look for patterns in how carbs may affect your blood glucose levels. It may be helpful to take note of your carb intake in a diary for a few weeks, and then discuss your findings with your dietitian or diabetes educator.
- Taking your diabetes medication and insulin as instructed (even when you’re unwell), and adjusting your dosage as your care team advises
- Maintaining an active lifestyle