Know the Symptoms of High Blood Sugar in Non-Diabetics and Diabetics
- Can your blood sugar be high without having diabetes?
- What are the symptoms of high blood sugar in non-diabetics and diabetic mellitus?
- 1. Fatigue (feeling extreme tiredness)
- 2. Glucosuria (Sugar in urine)
- 3. Polyuria (Increase water excretion)
- 4. Severe dehydration & loss of electrolytes
- 5. Polydipsia (Intense thirst)
- 6. Unexplained weight loss
- 7. Polyphagia (excessive eating)
- What causes blood sugar to rise in non-diabetics and diabetics?
- 1. Poor lifestyle and diabetes
- 2. Obesity and diabetes relationship
- 3. Role of genetics in diabetes
- 4. Other diabetes risk factors
- What can be the complications of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus?
- Macrovascular complications of diabetes mellitus
- Microvascular complications of diabetes mellitus
- Ocular complications of diabetes mellitus
- Renal complications of diabetes mellitus
- Neurological complications of diabetes mellitus
- What are the acute and chronic complications of diabetes mellitus?
- Q 1. How do you feel when your blood sugar is too high?
- Q 2. Can type 2 diabetes cause leg pain?
- Q 3. What are some unusual symptoms of diabetes?
- Q 4. Can anxiety raise blood sugar in non-diabetics?
- Q 5. Can infection cause high blood sugar in non-diabetics?
Have you ever thought about what happens if you have high blood sugar levels? Here, we will know the symptoms of high blood sugar in non-diabetics and diabetic people.
The burden of diabetes can be seen in society because it has expensive treatment, reduces the quality of life and brings many other diseases.
According to IDF (International Diabetes of Federation), about 537 million adults (20-79 years) were living with diabetes worldwide in 2021. Even it is increasing at an alarming rate every year.
If we talk about particular India, it is considered a “Diabetes Capital of the World.” India is the second largest country in diabetes. In 2019, about 77 million people had diabetes in India, and this is expected to rise to 134 million by 2045.
Diabetes is also known as a “Silent Killer” because it does not show any particular symptoms (or might be asymptomatic) at an early stage. Still, over time it starts damaging your every organ slowly.
You must have seen some heart disease patients like angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, stroke, etc. Have you ever tried to know the root cause of heart disease?
If you have had diabetes for a long time, you would be a higher chance of developing heart problems because diabetes and heart disease often go hand in hand.
We need to understand these things so that it can be evaluated why diabetes is so devastating.
This post will discuss the symptoms of high blood sugar in non-diabetics and diabetics. Apart from this, I will cover the causes and complications of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus.
Let’s get started.
Can your blood sugar be high without having diabetes?
Many people think that high blood sugar exists only in diabetes. The fact is, high blood sugar (glucose) may affect anyone, diabetic or not.
This means your blood sugar can also be high in non-diabetic conditions. This condition is called “Prediabetes” or “Non-diabetic Hyperglycemia“.
If your blood sugar readings slightly rise than normal or fall certain range, that indicates a Prediabetes condition.
- Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS) =100 to 125 mg/dl
- Postprandial Blood Sugar (PPBS) = 140 to 199 mg/dl
- HbA1C = 5.7 to 6.4%
What are the symptoms of high blood sugar in non-diabetics and diabetic mellitus?
When blood glucose becomes more than the normal range, it indicates hyperglycaemia.
Hyperglycemia (or high blood sugar) can be in non-diabetic or diabetic either. Therefore, the symptoms of high blood sugar in non-diabetics are generally similar to those in diabetic hyperglycaemia.
Although the three Ps (Polyuria, Polydipsia and Polyphagia) are considered a classical triad for determining diabetes mellitus, but we cannot skip other symptoms of diabetes.
Here, we will see how one symptom of high blood sugar is associated with another symptom.
Let’s discuss all signs and symptoms of high blood sugar one by one.
1. Fatigue (feeling extreme tiredness)
Fatigue is the most prevalent symptom of diabetes mellitus. You may have physical exhaustion and lack energy during high blood glucose conditions.
Suppose your blood sugar level is 500 mg/dl; it means blood sugar is not going to your cells, which causes increased sugar levels in your blood.
This increased blood sugar level disturbs the homeostasis of extracellular fluid (fluid present outside the cells) and interstitial fluid (fluid present inside the cells).
This condition creates extracellular Hyperosmolarity.
The higher blood sugar sucks the interstitial fluid out of the cells. Due to this, your cells get shrunk and cause cellular dysfunction.
This is the reason that you feel fatigued in the hyperglycaemia condition.
2. Glucosuria (Sugar in urine)
Glucosuria is a crucial clinical sign or feature of diabetes mellitus. The hyperglycaemia condition may also affect your kidney.
A kidney is a vital filter system of our body. Each kidney contains 1.2 million nephrons.
These nephrons help filtrate blood, reabsorb useful substances in your blood and remove waste products through urine.
When you have a normal blood sugar level, most glucose molecules are filtered and reabsorbed in your blood by SGLT2 (Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter 2).
The SGLT2 cotransporters are embedded on the wall of the nephron’s PCT (Proximal Convoluted Tubules). These transporters help to reabsorb the sodium and glucose molecules into your blood.
If your blood glucose level gets very high or is beyond the range, SGLT2 cotransporters will not work correctly.
Because the higher concentration of glucose molecules does not let the glucose reabsorbed into your blood. This results in glucose start appearing in the urine.
You may get glucose in your urine. This condition is called “Glucosuria” or “Glycosuria”.
In normal conditions, glucose can be present up to 0.25 mg/ml in your urine. But if it gets more than 0.25 mg/dl, it would be considered glycosuria.
3. Polyuria (Increase water excretion)
Polyuria is a hallmark sign of diabetes mellitus.
We know how high blood sugar level causes glucosuria. In glucosuria, you lose glucose (or energy) in the urine.
Along with glucose, it also pulls water because it won’t let the water be reabsorbed.
Due to its osmotic effects, you will get more water in the urine, which increases the excretion of urine.
The normal excretion of water is about 1 to 2 litres. But it gets increased in diabetes mellitus. You will get a urine output of more than 3 litres a day.
This diuresis or excessive passage of urine is called Polyuria.
4. Severe dehydration & loss of electrolytes
Dehydration is an obvious symptom of diabetes mellitus.
In diabetes mellitus, you lose a lot of water and electrolytes from your body.
The dehydration makes you feel dizzy, lightheaded, weak, and irritable. It also causes dryness in your lips, eyes and mouth.
5. Polydipsia (Intense thirst)
Polydipsia means excessive thirst. This symptom is also strongly associated with diabetes mellitus
In diabetes mellitus, your kidney usually gets disturbed via polyuria, glucosuria and dehydration.
These symptoms make your kidney to releases the hormone “angiotensin“.
This angiotensin goes to your hypothalamus and stimulates the thirst centre. Due to the activation of the thirst centre, you will feel more thirsty.
Therefore, you need to take more water during this condition.
6. Unexplained weight loss
If you are unintentionally losing weight, that can be a warning sign of diabetes.
In diabetes, your cells do not get glucose, and they are unable to produce energy. In this condition, you lose a lot of energy in the form of glucose, which is excreted through urine (or glucosuria).
Due to this, your fat cells or muscles start burning calories, and it causes unexplained weight loss.
7. Polyphagia (excessive eating)
Polyphagia means eating excessive amount of food. This can be an alarming sign of diabetes.
Your brain has a feeding centre that is present in the hypothalamus part. When your feeding centre stimulates, you start feeling a hunger sensation.
In diabetes, your adipose tissue releases a hormone, “leptin.” This leptin hormone goes to your hypothalamus and activates the feeding centre.
This results that you feel the sensation of hunger and increase your appetite. Therefore, you eat more food very frequently during this condition.
What causes blood sugar to rise in non-diabetics and diabetics?
We know that high blood sugar in non-diabetics is considered a Prediabetic. But we must also understand that prediabetic condition is the first stair of diabetes.
Let’s discuss some crucial factors that are responsible to causes hyperglycaemia –
1. Poor lifestyle and diabetes
A poor lifestyle is a leading cause of high blood sugar, whether you are a non-diabetic or diabetic.
According to a study, millions of people follow unhealthy lifestyles. Eventually, they encounter various health disorders like diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol etc.
Your lifestyle would be poor or unhealthy if you were –
- Eating excess high glycaemic index foods (such as white bread, baked foods, pizza, burgers, cold drinks etc.)
- Not doing exercise
- Not getting enough sleep
- Being too sedentary, i.e., sitting or lying down for long periods.
- Drinking alcohol
This type of lifestyle may spike your blood sugar level and insulin which causes hyperglycaemia.
2. Obesity and diabetes relationship
Although, the exact cause of diabetes is still unknown.
But many health experts have observed that obesity is one of the strong risk factors for causing type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Recent studies have found that obese people are 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if they have a higher BMI (30 kg/m2 or more).
The excess accumulation of fat in your body is associated with insulin resistance. And we know how insulin resistance causes T2DM.
3. Role of genetics in diabetes
If diabetes mellitus type 2 is run in your family, it can be hard to determine whether your diabetes is due to lifestyle or genetics. Most likely, it is due to both.
Suppose your grandparents or parents have had diabetes; you might have diabetes. This probability of having diabetes can be increased if you are obese and follow a poor lifestyle.
4. Other diabetes risk factors
Certain other factors lead to hyperglycaemia.
- Having PCOS
Your blood sugar level can be increased if you have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). The PCOS is a female disorder which mainly occurs due to poor lifestyle.
- Pancreatic Disorders
You might have hyperglycemia if there are pancreatic diseases such as pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis.
- Cushing Syndrome
If someone has Cushing syndrome, that could be a factor in increasing blood sugar.
In Cushing Syndrome, your pituitary gland secretes ACTH ((Adrenocorticotrophic hormone), which goes to the adrenal gland of the kidney.
This adrenal gland releases a stress hormone called “Cortisol.” This is an essential hormone of our body that decrease inflammation, immune response, regulating blood pressure and stress response.
But, the excess production of cortisol could be a strong risk factor for developing hyperglycemia.
The higher cortisol counteracts the effect of insulin that causes insulin resistance.
What can be the complications of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus?
Have you ever thought about what happens if you do not control your high blood sugar?
The real trouble starts in your body when you have a high blood sugar level for a long time.
Initially, diabetes mellitus is a hyperosmotic disease where blood has a high concentration of sugar. But over time, the long-term hyperglycaemia converts into vascular disease.
Let me make you understand with an example –
If you see the water, it has low viscosity. It means water can flow easily.
Similarly, our blood can flow well but has a slightly higher viscosity than water because it contains blood cells, normal sugar levels and some proteins.
Suppose your blood gets more sugar than normal; the blood flow will be decreased because it increases blood viscosity.
If the high blood sugar level is persistent for a long time. In that case, it won’t properly flow in your body parts such as the heart, kidney, eyes, brain, and many other vital organs.
Therefore, the long-term complications of diabetes mellitus could be heart disease (such as Ischemic Heart disease, Angina, MI, Stroke etc.), kidney failure, eye damage, nerve damage etc.
Let’s discuss how the long-term effect of hyperglycaemia disturbs the other mechanism of your body parts.
Macrovascular complications of diabetes mellitus
Macrovascular disease means blockage of your arteries or veins. The story of macrovascular complications starts with high blood sugar.
Suppose you have had diabetes for a long time (i.e., many years). In that case, the high blood glucose will react with certain proteins in your blood. Eventually, it produces glycation products, i.e., Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs).
These AGEs are an interaction of blood glucose and protein or fats usually formed during long-term hyperglycaemia.
Once AGEs are formed, they start circulating in your blood vessels and bind to their receptors RAGE (receptor for advanced glycation end products).
RAGE can be found in the cell membrane. When AGEs bind to RAGE, it starts damaging your endothelial wall of blood vessels.
During blood vessel damage, it releases some inflammatory mediators such as Cytokines, Growth factors, macrophages, ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) etc.
These inflammatory mediators increase collagen and cholesterol density, making your blood vessels stiff. It forms a solid fatty substance that is called atheroma.
This atheroma gets deposited on the wall of blood vessels. It obstructs the flow of blood, that leads to atherosclerotic disease.
All in all, the process of atherosclerosis is the primary mechanism to cause various macrovascular complications such as –
- Cardiovascular diseases include hypertension, coronary artery disease (CAD), etc.
- Cerebrovascular Disease (CVD) such as stroke
- Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), such as limb ischemia, diabetic foot ulcer
- Renovascular Disease (RVD), such as asymptomatic renal artery stenosis, renovascular hypertension, or ischemic nephropathy.
Microvascular complications of diabetes mellitus
Microvascular means coronary artery, small artery, or capillaries.
The long-standing high blood sugar level may not only blockage of large vessels but also obstructs the small arteries that represents microvascular complications of diabetes.
You may have problems in your small arteries or capillaries, such as
Ocular complications of diabetes mellitus
If your diabetes is uncontrolled, it can damage the retina of your eye, and this condition is called Diabetic retinopathy.
In Diabetic retinopathy, you might have vision loss and a higher chance of developing cataracts.
Renal complications of diabetes mellitus
It is very clear that long-term diabetes may also gradually destroy the glomerulus part of the nephron and cause kidney damage. This is called Diabetic Nephropathy.
In this condition, your kidney will not perform well and imbalance all KFT (Kidney Function Tests) parameters such as Creatinine, Potassium, Phosphorous, Uric Acid, Chloride, Sodium, Blood Urea, Blood Urea Nitrogen, and Calcium.
Neurological complications of diabetes mellitus
The high blood sugar level can damage the nerve cells of your entire body. It can be seen most often nerves damages in the legs and feet. This is called “Diabetic Neuropathy” or “Peripheral Neuropathy”.
It can cause foot ulcers, infections, bone and joint damage.
You may have symptoms like numbness (reduced ability to feel pain), tingling or pricking (pins-and-needles” sensation), burning feeling, cramps and weakness.
What are the acute and chronic complications of diabetes mellitus?
When you get early diabetes, it will show hyperosmotic symptoms that indicate acute complications of diabetes mellitus. These symptoms can be –
- Weight loss
But if your diabetes is uncontrolled for a long time, it indicates chronic complications of diabetes mellitus. These can be –
- Macrovascular complications (Hypertension, heart disease, stroke etc.)
- Microvascular complications (Diabetic retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy)
Now you can imagine how diabetes is a dangerous disease and why diabetes mellitus is known as a silent killer.
In this post, we have learned the symptoms of high blood sugar in non-diabetics and diabetic people.
If diabetes is uncontrolled for a long time, it starts creating actual complications in your body. It destroys your every organ gradually.
You should not ignore your high blood sugar level. There is a concern if your blood sugar is not in the normal range.
You must consult your doctor regarding this.
In the coming post, we will discuss the treatment and management of diabetes mellitus. So, keep reading posts to get more informative articles.
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Q 1. How do you feel when your blood sugar is too high?
In a high blood sugar condition, you may experience the following signs and symptoms –
- Feeling lethargy or tired
- Body weakness
- Dryness of skin
- Losing weight
- Excess urination
- Craving to drink more water and eating food.
Q 2. Can type 2 diabetes cause leg pain?
Yes. If you have had diabetes for a long time, it starts damaging your nerve cells over time. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy. During this condition, you may feel tingling, numbness, soreness, leg pain and cramps.
Q 3. What are some unusual symptoms of diabetes?
You may also encounter some unusual symptoms during diabetes, such as
- Acanthosis Nigricans (Darkening of skin)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Chances of reinfection (repeated episodes of infection)
- Depression (Unexplained mood swings)
- Delayed wound healing
- Fruity smell breath
Q 4. Can anxiety raise blood sugar in non-diabetics?
Yes. Stress is a strong risk factor for raising blood sugar, whether diabetic or non-diabetic. Stress or anxiety increases the cortisol hormone. This cortisol is responsible for insulin resistance that induces hyperglycaemia in your body.
Q 5. Can infection cause high blood sugar in non-diabetics?
Yes. A virus or certain microbes may damage your pancreas to stop the release of insulin, which could be a reason for high blood sugar levels. It could be reversed. During diabetes, your immunity system can be weak or suppressed, so you may be at increased risk of developing an infection.