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What is Postprandial Hyperglycemia?

B. Chisholm
B. Chisholm

Postprandial hyperglycemia refers to a marked rise in the glucose or sugar levels in the bloodstream after eating a meal. It is most commonly seen in people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus and may be linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular complications. While it is normal for the glucose levels to rise slightly after a meal, too much of an increase, or a prolonged increase, is not healthy.

The digestive process is complicated and involves almost all systems of the body. In order for the body to create energy from foods such as carbohydrates and sugars, the food must undergo digestion, absorption and glycolysis. Insulin is released from the pancreas and allows the glucose to be absorbed from the blood into the cells of the body. After eating, the amount of glucose in the bloodstream is expected to rise while insulin moves the glucose into the cells, where it can provide energy for the body to function.

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

A rise in blood glucose is only referred to as postprandial hyperglycemia if it is very high and/or prolonged. This can occur due to either glucose intolerance or not enough insulin being released from the pancreas. Diabetic patients either do not produce enough insulin or do not respond adequately to the insulin produced. This, in turn, can not only cause postprandial hyperglycemia but also hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia in the fasting state, depending on the type of diabetes. Postprandial hyperglycemia is seen mostly in people with Type 2 diabetes.

When a test is done for postprandial hyperglycemia, blood is taken two hours after a meal. The blood glucose levels will have gone back to normal by this time in healthy individuals. Postprandial blood sugar levels in adults should be under 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 10 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). As people age, their bodies metabolize glucose with more difficulty, so an increase in postprandial glucose is expected. If the level is higher than normal, it is termed postprandial hyperglycemia and the person should be referred for further investigation because this test alone is not enough to diagnose the cause of the postprandial hyperglycemia.

Symptoms of diabetes include thirst, fatigue and frequent urination. Diabetes may occur at any stage of life. Different forms of diabetes are recognized and can be confirmed by a number of diagnostic tests performed by a medical professional. Treatment will depend on the form of diabetes. If a person is found to suffer from postprandial hyperglycemia, medical advice should be sought.

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    • Diabetics monitor blood sugar levels to help prevent hyperglycemia.
      By: Dmitry Lobanov
      Diabetics monitor blood sugar levels to help prevent hyperglycemia.