What are the Effects of High Blood Sugar?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 09 February 2019
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Keeping the blood sugar at a normal level at all times is important to maintain good health. This is because there are both short-term and long-term effects of high blood sugar, making it imperative to bring it down to a healthy level as soon as the symptoms are felt. For example, many patients suffering from this issue feel exhausted and weak, and may also experience headaches and difficulty concentrating. Extreme thirst, excessive urination, and weight loss are often also effects that show up soon after the blood sugar becomes low. Some long-term effects may include blurry vision, blindness, nerve damage, and organ failure.

One of the most common effects of high blood sugar is called ketosis, which occurs when the body uses ketones instead of glucose to create energy. While it is helpful that the body is able to create energy from an alternative source when glucose, or sugar, is not available, there are consequences. Ketosis often produces headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, making it difficult for patients to concentrate or even function well. Though this is not life-threatening, if left untreated, it could develop into diabetic ketoacidosis within days. Unfortunately, this condition can be fatal, with symptoms ranging from dry mouth and difficulty breathing to a red face and nausea.


Some of the most noticeable effects of high blood sugar deal with fluids in the body, or lack thereof. For example, high blood sugar often causes the kidney to start getting rid of glucose through excessive urination. Of course, this can frequently lead to dry mouth and the inability to quench thirst despite drinking a lot of fluids. While a headache or fatigue can often be blamed on other possible causes, excessive urination and extreme thirst are often more obvious side effects of high blood sugar, usually signaling to the patient that there is a problem. Typically, these symptoms are followed by sudden weight loss since the glucose in the body is either being flushed out through the urine or cycled through the blood.

Those who let this condition continue for years without treatment often develop long-term effects of high blood sugar, many of which can be debilitating. Vision may become blurred or even lost entirely, often starting out with symptoms like flashing lights and random dark spots in the visual field. Organs, such as the kidneys, may fail due to the extra strain on the body over time, and the immune system may become compromised, as well. This often leads to more illnesses than usual, and can also end in various heart conditions, hardening of the arteries, or a stroke.



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