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High blood sugar signs ...

Q I have recently become the main caregiver for my elderly father, who has diabetes. Can you tell me what symptoms might be signs of dangerously high blood sugar?

A Excessively high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can be a medical emergency--if left untreated, it can result in a diabetic coma, while chronic high blood sugar can damage the eyes, heart, nervous system, and kidneys.

Signs of high blood sugar include increased thirst and urination, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision, and a "fruity" smell to his breath. Call your father's doctor if he mentions any of these symptoms.

Adhering to the guidelines your father has been given for controlling his diabetes is vital to ensure that his blood sugar does not increase above safe levels. This means that he needs to take his medications as prescribed, follow an eating plan that helps keep his blood sugar under control, and get sufficient exercise, as well as testing his blood sugar level as often as his doctor has recommended.

Also be aware that your father's blood sugar may go too low (hypoglycemia) at times. Symptoms include shakiness, heart palpitations, sweating, anxiety, dizziness, and confusion. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can cause fainting or a seizure. To bring blood sugar levels back up, he'll need sugar: Give him glucose tablets, a small glass of fruit juice, one tablespoon of sugar or honey, or a few pieces of hard candy. Instances of hypoglycemia should also be reported to his doctor.


Orli R. Etingin, M.D. Director, Iris Cantor Women's Health Center Vice Chairman, Dept. of Medicine Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College

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Title Annotation:Ask Dr. Etingin
Author:Etingin, Orli R.
Publication:Women's Health Advisor
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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