What Is Hyperglycemia?
Hyperglycemia or high blood glucose is a condition that usually affects people suffering from both type-I and type-II diabetes.
There are 2 types of hyperglycemia:
- Fasting hyperglycemia: This is when the blood sugar is more than 130 mg/DL even after not consuming any food or drinking anything for around 8 hours.
- After-meal or Postprandial hyperglycemia: In this case, the blood sugar level is more than 180 mg/DL two hours after a meal. If you don’t have diabetes, the blood sugar levels will not rise more than 140 mg/DL, unless the meal is very huge. Constant high blood sugar levels if left untreated can damage your blood vessels, nerves, and organs and can also cause other serious problems. If you have type-I diabetes, the acids can build up in the blood causing a condition called ketoacidosis that is quite dangerous. And, if you suffer from type-II diabetes or are at a risk for it, high blood sugar levels can cause a dangerous condition called hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome or HHNS, where your body cannot process sugar.
It is extremely important that the symptoms of high blood sugar are treated immediately in order to prevent complications later on.
Chronic and untreated hyperglycemia can result in serious complications including:
- Neuropathy or nerve damage
- Nephropathy or kidney damage
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney failure
- Retinopathy or eye disease
- Fungal and bacterial infections causing skin problems
- Poor blood flow and damaged nerves causing foot problems
What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperglycemia?
The early symptoms of high blood sugar are:
- Weight loss
- Extreme thirst, extreme urination, especially at night
- Blurred vision, fatigue
- Headaches, trouble in concentrating
- Sores that don’t heal quickly
- Blood sugar level higher than 180 mg/DL
The continued condition of high blood sugar may cause:
- Skin and vaginal infections.
- Sores and cuts that are extremely slow healing.
- Worsening vision.
- Gastrointestinal problems like chronic diarrhea or constipation.
- Nerve damage resulting in insensitive and cold feet, erectile dysfunction or loss of hair from the lower limbs.
- Kidney, heart or eye disease.
What Are The Causes Of Hyperglycemia?
There are many factors or conditions that cause hyperglycemia:
- You are less physically active than normal.
- Eating more carbohydrates than the usual amount.
- Having an infection or being ill.
- If you are experiencing high-stress levels.
- If you indulge in strenuous physical activity, especially if your insulin levels are low and blood sugar is high.
- Not taking the correct dosage of medication to control blood sugar.
Hyperglycemia may also be caused due to other medical conditions like:
- Pancreatic cancer
- Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas
- Cushing’s syndrome (where the blood cortisol level is raised)
- Rare tumors that secrete hormones such as growth hormone-secreting tumors, pheochromocytoma, glucagonoma
- Severe stress on the body or severe illness can cause hyperglycemia temporarily such as trauma, stroke, heart attack, etc.
- Taking certain medications such as estrogens, prednisone, glucagon, beta blockers, oral contraceptives, phenothiazines, etc.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Hyperglycemia?
- Drink plenty of water, as this helps to remove the excess sugar via your urine.
- Eat at regular intervals to keep the blood sugar levels in check.
- Exercise regularly for at least 45 minutes daily to maintain your blood sugar levels.
- Keep track of your carb consumption in order to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly and stick to your diabetes management plan strictly.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Hyperglycemia?
- Avoid being stressed, as this causes the body to release stress hormones, which causes the blood sugar levels to rise.
- Don’t skip any meals and eat regularly.
- Don’t miss out on your diabetes medication.
What Are The Best Foods For Hyperglycemia?
- Consume complex carbohydrates like oats, wheat, millets, etc., as they help to prevent the blood sugar levels from rising instead of simple carbohydrates like white rice, white bread, white pasta, refined flour, etc.
- Eat meals that are low in carbohydrates such as legumes, vegetables, salad, egg white or cottage cheese and whole wheat bread instead of large meals that are very high in carbs.
- Include proteins such as chicken, low-fat dairy, fish, egg whites, etc. and fibre such as fruits, vegetables, salads and omega-3 fats such as avocados, olives, olive oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, fish, etc. into your diet, as they help to boost metabolism and fat loss and help to effectively control blood sugar levels.
- 3-5 servings of non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, onions, radish, etc. are good to maintain blood sugar levels.
What Are The Worst Foods For Hyperglycemia?
- Avoid vegetables that are high in starch such as potatoes, corn, peas etc. as they increase blood sugar levels.
- Reduce or avoid salt and salty foods as these are the main culprits for diabetes.
- Avoid refined or table sugar as it does not have any nutrition. Instead, you can use natural substitutes such as jaggery or honey.
- Avoid fatty and fried foods and foods rich in trans fats such as margarine, shortening, baked products like cakes, pastries, cookies, etc. as they increase blood sugar levels.
- Avoid red meat as it aggravates the condition of hyperglycemia, opt for lean meat or fish twice or thrice a week.
- Avoid whole or full-fat dairy products, as they are not beneficial for high blood sugar, instead consume low-fat or fat-free yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.
- Avoid foods with a high glycemic index like potatoes, white rice, banana, bread, etc., as they increase blood sugar levels.
What Are The Medicines For Hyperglycemia?
What Are The Tips To Manage Hyperglycemia?
Manage your stress levels as this causes blood sugar levels to rise. You can take up calming activities like yoga, meditation, breathing techniques to prevent anxiety and stress.
Some home remedies that can help to prevent an increase in blood sugar levels that you can try are:
- Bitter gourd contains “plant insulin” that helps to lower blood sugar levels. Consuming the juice of 2-3 bitter gourds early in the morning on an empty stomach or eating cooked bitter gourd or powdering the seeds of bitter gourd and drinking it by mixing in water can help to control blood sugar.
- Fenugreek is a great way to control blood sugar. Have a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds with a glass of water in the morning. You can also soak the seeds overnight in water, strain and drink the water early in the morning. You can also use fenugreek seeds in your cooking or you can eat them in the sprouted form too.
- India blackberry or jamun is very effective in controlling blood sugar levels. The seed of the fruit contains glucoside that helps to prevent the conversion of starch into sugars, the seeds can be powdered and eaten.
- Garlic can help to lower blood sugar levels. It contains sulfur and zinc which are the components of insulin. Having 3-4 cloves of freshly crushed garlic can be very beneficial, you can also use it in your cooking.
- Consuming raw onion or onion juice can help to control blood sugar levels.
- Flaxseeds, a rich source of omega-3 fats, helps to control blood sugar levels as it facilitates insulin and boosts the absorption of the glucose by the cells.
- Boiling cinnamon sticks in water and drinking the water can help to regulate blood sugar levels as cinnamon helps to improve glucose metabolism.
- Including antioxidants in your diet such as selenium, zinc, vitamins E and C and chromium (Brewer’s yeast) can help to control blood sugar levels.