High blood sugar symptoms come in stages and can develop slowly. For individuals in the early stage of diabetes and have not yet been diagnosed, high blood sugar symptoms can be the indicators that force them to seek medical treatment.
By addressing the early symptoms, patients can stave off the dangerous long-term health conditions caused by poorly managed diabetes.
High Blood Sugar Symptoms and Signs
All of the symptoms of high blood sugar are signs the body is trying to compensate for the elevated levels of glucose in the blood.
1. Increased Thirst
If blood sugar gets above 160, patients may find they suffer from increased thirst. Their mouth may be constantly dry, leaving behind a bitter or unpleasant taste.
If they have diabetes and suffer from dry mouth, they check their blood sugar as well as for the presence of ketones in their urine.
Ketones are the toxic acids left in the body when muscles go into starvation mode. If a patient develops both a high level of ketones and high blood sugar, they may be headed for a diabetic coma caused by a condition known as ketoacidosis. This condition is more commonly found in those with type 1 diabetes.
2. Frequent Urination
As an individual’s thirst increases, they will likely experience more frequent urination. It should be noted it’s vital for anyone with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, to get plenty of water.
Type 2 diabetes can cause urine to be extremely acidic and may lead to the formation of kidney stones. By maintaining a healthy blood sugar level, between 90 and 160, and keeping up their fluid intake to keep the kidneys well flushed, patients can reduce the risk of stone formation.
However, urinating frequently can be a sign of dangerously high blood sugar. Patients should, therefore, take advantage of frequent urination to check their ketones and contact a doctor if they are elevated.
3. Issues with Concentrating
Short term impacts of high blood sugar can cause breakdowns in the brain’s ability to connect, thus causing issues with concentration.
For example, if a thought comes up in short-term memory, such as an errand or an appointment, patients may have a hard time committing the thought to long-term memory.
High blood sugar overloads the brain with fuel and may lead patients to feel scattered or jittery and have issues with concentrating.
The long term impacts of high blood sugar levels are genuinely distressing. Under constant exposure to too much sugar, patients may experience brain atrophy, which can impact their ability not only to think straight but to regulate their emotions and respond logically to challenges and stresses.
High blood sugar levels can also impact the small blood vessels in the brain and contribute to vascular dementia, a condition that arises when the brain is starved for nutrients by blocked blood vessels.
4. Blurry Vision
High levels of blood sugar impact not only an individual’s blood and urine, but may also seep into other tissues.
While many know the long term impact of eye damage caused by blocking blood flow to the retina, causing diabetic retinopathy, many diabetes patients may not know the risks of sugar seepage inside the eyeball lens.
High levels of blood sugar in the short term cause blurry vision by lingering in the eyeball itself. While this sugar seepage is a temporary condition, diabetes patients need to be aware this vision impairment can make daily activities, such as driving a car or handling sharp or hot objects, a dangerous undertaking.
5. Increased Fatigue
In addition to feeling exhausted because their body simply isn’t operating efficiently due to diabetes, patients may experience increased fatigue because of high blood sugar.
This happens in a few ways. First, high blood sugar slows circulation, which means cells aren’t getting the oxygen and other necessary nutrients in a timely manner, which forces the body to work harder, result in fatigue.
Additionally, high blood sugar can also result in inflammation, which triggers monocytes, a type of immune cell, to come into the brain. The ultimate result of this, as many will suspect, is fatigue.
Patients may also wake up more frequently during the night due to blood sugar problems, including high blood sugar, which will result in feeling more tired than normal the following day.