What are Different Hyperglycemia Causes?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Hyperglycemia, an abnormally high level of blood sugar, can be associated with a number of causes, including certain medical conditions, medications, stress, diet, and lack of exercise. People who are more at risk for hyperglycemia, such as patients with diabetes, may be warned about the risks and given advice on keeping blood sugar levels low and avoiding common hyperglycemia causes. Generally, people who eat a balanced diet and exercise well should have a relatively low risk of hyperglycemia unless they have underlying and untreated medical conditions.

Diabetics monitor blood sugar levels to help prevent hyperglycemia.
Diabetics monitor blood sugar levels to help prevent hyperglycemia.

Medical conditions associated with hyperglycemia include Cushing's disease, diabetes, endocrine conditions, and cystic fibrosis. The body also naturally experiences a rise in blood sugar in response to inflammation and infection, and these can be potential hyperglycemia causes. Post-surgical patients are at risk because of the inflammation caused by surgery and the stress of undergoing surgery, as stress is another potential hyperglycemia cause.

One medical condition associated with hyperglycemia is Cushing's disease.
One medical condition associated with hyperglycemia is Cushing's disease.

People who eat more than usual can develop high blood sugar as their bodies try to process the food, and a reduction in exercise levels is also linked with hyperglycemia, as the body doesn't use the energy it stores in the form of sugars when people are not exercising enough. Stroke and heart attack are other hyperglycemia causes, as is damage to the pancreas, because they are involved in insulin production and insulin problems are associated with hyperglycemia. In addition, people can sometimes experience hyperglycemia in response to high levels of chronic anxiety.

Medications like some antidepressants, oral contraceptives, steroid medications, beta-blockers, and stimulants are also potential hyperglycemia causes. Medications with known blood sugar risks will typically carry warning labels advising patients about the risks and how to address them. Sometimes, chronic use of certain medications can have the opposite effect, reducing blood sugar in the patient and causing hypoglycemia.

If hyperglycemia is severe, a physician may administer insulin to bring blood sugar levels back down, monitoring the patient for signs of complications in the process. Once the patient is stable and blood sugar levels are more reasonable, an evaluation can be performed to find out why the patient's blood sugar spiked. The treatment for high blood sugar is elimination or control of the underlying hyperglycemia causes in the patient, ranging from changing a patient's diet to providing supportive therapy for patients during and after strokes to help them recover. Failure to treat hyperglycemia can result in complications for the patient, including damage to the organs and the potential to fall into a coma.

Failure to treat hyperglycemia may lead to coma.
Failure to treat hyperglycemia may lead to coma.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

candyquilt

Why do some women develop hyperglycemia when they're pregnant?

I just learned that my sister has hyperglycemia and she's four months pregnant. Her doctor has put her on a high blood sugar diet and an anti-diabetic medication. She has to take it throughout her pregnancy and then they will continue to monitor her blood sugar while she's nursing. Apparently, this type of hyperglycemia reverses itself after giving birth.

burcinc

@ankara-- Type 1 and 2 diabetes are hereditary, but lifestyle, diet, illnesses and stress also plays a role. But if one of your parents has diabetes, there is a high likelihood that you will develop it as well. Both of my parents have type two diabetes and I was recently diagnosed with it.

As for steroids, I'm not very familiar with them but I think most oral steroids have an affect on blood sugar. Cortisone definitely increases blood sugar and can cause hyperglycemia. That could definitely be why you've developed it, but I think that the hyperglycemia caused by steroids disappears soon after steroid use ends.

bluedolphin

Is hyperglycemia hereditary? Also, which steroids cause hyperglycemia? I used a steroid medication for my arthritis last year. Could that have caused hyperglycemia?

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