What is “high blood sugar”?

What is High Blood Sugar?

Glucose is the sugar that is found in your blood and comes from two sources (1) the food you eat and (2) your body making it in the liver or breaking it down from glycogen stored in your muscles. Your body needs to have glucose in the blood as a source of energy for your cells, but the glucose needs to be at specific levels. When the glucose level is higher than normal, this condition is known as “hyperglycemia” or “high blood sugar”. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps move glucose from digested food into your cells and the pancreas releases insulin into the blood, based upon the blood sugar level.

Common Symptoms
Hyperglycemia doesn’t cause symptoms until glucose values are much higher than normal for a long time (>11 mmol/L) which is why diabetes is called a silent disease. It’s important to have your blood sugar levels checked by your doctor, especially if you are at risk. Watch for:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Potential Causes
Sometimes, the body stops making insulin (as in type 1 / juvenile diabetes). Other times, the insulin does not work properly (as in “insulin resistance” or type 2 diabetes). In insulin resistance or in those with diabetes, glucose does not enter the cells properly, creating high blood sugar levels.


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Author: BBDN

Joy Y Kiddie MSc., RD - I'm a Registered Dietitian in private practice in British Columbia, Canada that provides services in-person in my Coquitlam office, as well as by Distance Consultation (using Skype / telephone).