Islets of Hope for persons with diabetes

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Article by Lahle Wolfe, Founder, Islets of Hope.

For article use and reprint permission please contact:

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Normal Blood Glucose

Information on normal and acceptable target blood glucose ranges for both diabetics and nondiabetics. Our chart considers factors such as age and whether or not a person is newly diagnosed.

(Low Blood Sugar)


(High Blood Sugar)


Hypoglycemia in Non-Diabetic Persons
Reactive Hypoglycemia
Fasting Hypoglycemia
Other Causes for Hypoglycemia

Two types of hypo- glycemia can occur in people who do not have diabetes: reactive (postprandial, or after meals) and fasting (postabsorptive).

Reactive hypoglycemia is not usually related to any underlying disease; fasting hypoglycemia often is.

Did You Know?

Diabetes is Greek for "passing through" (i.e., frequent and excessive thirst and urination; and Mellitus is Latin for "honey-sweet." Historically, diabetes was a collective name for a number of diseases, each of which affected a different endocrine gland but all of which had in common the classic symptoms of frequent and excessive thirst accompanied by frequent and excessive urination. Except for diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus, the other diabetic diseases have been renamed.

Important Medical Disclaimer

All material found on this site is intended to provide you with general information.  You should consult with your own physician before making any changes to your diabetes care plan.


islets of hope diabetes medical library              back to main "Glycemia Information"
Diabetes Information

Symptoms of hyperglycemia
(also called high blood glucose or high blood sugar))
Print IOH Publication HG-3-2006; Hyperglycemia

Mini Site Index
Nature of Hyperglycemia
Symptoms of Hyperglycemia
Hyperglycemia:  Doing Your Part

Previous Section and More Information
About Hyperglycemia
Normal Blood Glucose Ranges
Target Ranges for People with Diabetes
Causes of Hyperglycemia
Treating Hyperglycemia
Preventing Hyperglycemia
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA
Complications of Diabetes Due to Hyperglycemia
HbA1c Test    

Nature of Hyperglycemia (High Blood Glucose)

Onset:  Over time; hours or days.

Causes:  Too little insulin, stress, illness, dehydration, exercise or inactivity, too much food, certain medications, or a combination of these things.

ALERT:  Untreated highs can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which can result in coma and/or death.  Over time, high blood glucose damages nerves and organs and disrupt normal digestive system processes.

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia (High Blood Glucose)

It is important to remember that people can react differently to high blood glucose levels.  Generally, symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Increase in urination (polyuria)
  • Urine may contain ketones
  • Labored breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Increase in appetite (polyphagia), or decrease in appetite
  • Headache, stomachache
  • General aches and pain
  • Changes in behavior or temperament

An important observation on hyperglycemia symptoms from

It is important to note that frequent hunger without an increase in thirst or urination can also indicate that blood glucose levels are too low.  This commonly occurs when people who have type 2 diabetes mellitus take too much oral hypoglycemic medication for the amount of food they eat. The resulting drop in blood glucose level to below the normal range prompts a hunger response. This hunger is not usually as pronounced as in type 1 diabetes mellitus (especially the juvenile onset form).

People with chronic non-diabetic hyperglycemia who take oral hypoglycemic mediation can have the same problem (again, not as pronounced a hunger. In particular, if the hyperglycemia is caused by obesity, prescription of oral hypoglycemic medication can be ill advised. This is because the medication typically interferes with the subject's weight reduction plan by artificially lowering the blood sugar levels, so that a strong hunger response occurs when the subject attempts to naturally lower the blood sugar levels through a program of proper diet and exercise. A vicious cycle can result, in which the more the subject exercises to lose weight, the greater the hunger caused by the medication, so that subject eats more to compensate for the oral hypoglycemic and, thus, cannot lose weight. The average blood sugar levels thus do not change, which can lead to an increase in the dosage of the oral hypoglycemic medication, which only perpetuates the problem.

Other symptoms of diabetic hyperglycemia may include:

These symptoms do not normally occur with acute non-diabetic hyperglycemia (it just doesn't last long enough), but some of them can occur in chronic non-diabetic hyperglycemia. The notable exception is weight loss, which almost never happens in chronic non-diabetic hyperglycemia - especially if the hyperglycemia is caused by obesity. Instead, the subject either maintains a stable obese weight, or gains weight. This is one of the ways non-diabetic hyperglycemia can be distinguished from diabetic hyperglycemia in which a person experiences weight loss due to insufficient levels of insulin.

Hyperglycemia and Diabetes: Doing Your Part

Signs and symptoms of both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia can vary from person to person. Get to know your own signs and describe them to your friends and family so they will be able to help you.  If your child has diabetes, tell school staff about hyperglycemia and how to treat it.

Always carry with you a copy of emergency medical instructions on how to inject glucagon in case you ever become unconscious.



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Page Updated 03/09/2006