Complications

Treating type 1 diabetes

Definition

High blood sugar, or hyperglycaemia, occurs when a person has too much food or glucose, or when their body produces too little insulin. Potential reasons for a person with type 1 diabetes having high blood sugar are as follow:

  • Not enough insulin taken
  • Eating more than usual
  • Eating earlier than usual
  • Eating food with higher glucose content, without injecting extra insulin
  • Injecting insulin at a site on the body where the absorption rate is slower
  • Missing or skipping an insulin dose
  • A clog in insulin pump tubing
  • Less exercise than normal
  • Stress
  • Illness or injury
  • Other hormones
  • Medications

High blood sugar does not necessarily put the person with type 1 diabetes in immediate danger. However, prolonged high blood sugar levels can cause serious complications like heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and amputation.
Very high blood sugar levels can result in DKA, or a “diabetic coma.” DKA occurs when there is insufficient glucose for energy and this forces the body to burn fat and body tissue instead for energy. This then causes the release of by-products called ketones, which are dangerous when released at high levels. Ketones become poisonous to the body and are passed in the urine as they build up in the blood.

Symptoms

The followings are the symptoms that may develop when a person with type 1 diabetes has high blood sugar level:

  • Abnormal thirst (polydipsia)
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Stomach pains
  • Increased hunger or appetite
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness, lethargy or exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odour on breath
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weight loss (a longer term symptom), which eventually leads to coma

What to do

General treatments for high blood sugar are as follows, while specific actions such as giving additional insulin should be determined by the adult with type 1 diabetes, physician or parents (for a child).
If blood test results are slightly above normal:

  • Continue regular activity
  • Drink water or sugar-free drinks
  • Monitor blood sugar levels with regular checks
  • Chart blood glucose test results
  • If blood test results are moderately high:
  • Do not engage in strenuous exercise
  • Drink water or sugar-free drinks
  • Inject additional insulin if instructed by physician or parents
  • Monitor blood sugar levels with regular checks
  • Chart blood glucose test results

If blood test results are very high:

  • Do not engage in strenuous exercise
  • Drink water or sugar-free drinks
  • Inject additional insulin if instructed by parents or physician
  • Test ketone levels if advised by parents or physician. If high, contact parent or physician immediately
  • Monitor blood sugar levels by checking regularly
  • Chart blood glucose test results
Low blood sugar
Neuropathy
Eye complications
Nephropathy
Cardiovascular disease
Celiac disease

 

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