Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)

The classic symptoms of diabetes are due to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Hyperglycemia is usually defined as a blood glucose level of 180 mg/dL or higher, but not everyone will have symptoms at that blood glucose level. Symptoms of hyperglycemia can include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Dry skin or mouth
  • Hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased healing of wounds and more frequent infections
  • Numbness and/or tingling in hands and/or feet
  • Unexplained weight loss

Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose)

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is usually defined as 70 mg/dL or less. Hypoglycemia is a common problem for people with diabetes who take insulin or sulfonylurea pills (glipizide, glimepiride, or glyburide). Hypoglycemia can cause a variety of symptoms, so it is important to identify how your body reacts when your blood glucose is too low. Symptoms of low blood glucose include:

  • Extreme hunger
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Mood changes, irritability 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Sweating or clamminess
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Blurred vision
  • Nightmares
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

What should you do if your blood sugar level is less than 70mg/dl? Follow the rule of 15:

  1. For every 15mg/dL below 70, drink or eat something with 15 grams of carbohydrate. For example, if your blood sugar was 40, you would consume 30 grams of carbohydrate. (70 – 40 = 30) 
      • Food and drink with 15gm of carbohydrate:
          • 1/2 can of soda
          • 4 ounces of juice
          • 4 glucose tablets
  2. Wait 15 minutes and recheck your blood glucose.
      • If it’s less than 70 after you recheck, repeat step 1 and 2 until it’s above 70.
  3. Once glucose is above 70, eat a snack or a meal.
  4. Call your doctor if you cannot figure out why your blood glucose dropped