High Blood Sugar: Causes, Symptoms, and Changes You Can Make Today

High Blood Sugar: Causes, Symptoms, and Changes You Can Make Today

High blood sugar is not something to mess with or take for granted. While it is extremely treatable, it is also extremely dangerous if untreated. Here are causes, symptoms and treatments for high blood sugar.


There are many potential causes of high blood sugar levels. One of the most common is diabetes mellitus, a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin or does not properly use the insulin it does produce. People with diabetes mellitus either do not produce enough insulin (a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels) or their cells do not respond properly to insulin. As a result, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of being used by the cells for energy. Over time, this can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage, and blindness.

Other possible causes include certain medications, stress, hormone imbalances, and pancreatic diseases. Certain medications can cause high blood sugar levels by interfering with the body's natural regulation of insulin or by increasing the amount of glucose produced by the liver. Medications that may have this effect include steroids, birth control pills, some cancer treatments, and antipsychotic drugs. In addition, people who take beta blockers (a type of medication used to treat high blood pressure and other conditions) may be at increased risk for developing diabetes mellitus because these drugs can reduce sensitivity to insulin.

Stressful life events such as divorce or job loss can also trigger an increase in blood sugar levels due to the release of hormones like cortisol that help prepare our bodies for "fight-or-flight" situations. Although these spikes are usually temporary and resolve once the stressful event has passed, chronic stress can lead to long-term elevations in blood sugar levels that increase the risk for developing diabetes mellitus and other health problems. Hormonal imbalances can also cause high blood sugar levels by interfering with how our bodies use and store glucose. For example, women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often have higher than normal levels of testosterone and other male hormones which make it more difficult for their bodies to use insulin properly resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. Similarly, people with Cushing's disease tend to have high cortisol levels which also disrupts glucose metabolism leading to raised blood sugars. Finally, Graves' disease (an autoimmune disorder that affects thyroid function) frequently leads to hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) which speeds up all bodily processes including those involved in regulating blood sugar causing abnormally high readings.


  1. High blood sugar levels can cause the following symptoms: 1. Excessive thirst. If you find yourself drinking more fluids than usual or urinating more often, it could be a sign that your blood sugar levels are too high. When there’s too much sugar in your bloodstream, your body tries to get rid of it by flushing it out through urine. This increased urination causes you to feel thirsty so you drink more fluids to quench your thirst.
  2. Blurred vision. High blood sugar levels can cause the lenses in your eyes to swell, leading to blurred vision. If left untreated, blurred vision may lead to permanent vision loss.
  3. Fatigue. Feeling tired or run down is another common symptom of high blood sugar levels. When there’s too much sugar in your bloodstream, your body has trouble converting it into energy which leaves you feeling fatigued all day long.
  4. Slow healing wounds. If cuts or scrapes take longer than usual to heal, it could be due to high blood sugar levels impairing the ability of white blood cells to fight infection properly. High blood sugar also prevents new skin cells from forming so wounds take longer to close up and heal completely.
  5. Frequent infections. People with diabetes are more susceptible to developing bacterial and fungal infections because high blood sugars weaken their immune system’s ability fight off invading organisms. Urinary tract infections are especially common in women with diabetes since bacteria thrives in sugary environments like the bladder and urethra. Skin conditions like athlete’s foot and vaginal yeast infections are also common among diabetics.
  6. Nausea and vomiting In some cases, very high blood sugars can lead to nausea and vomiting as the body tries unsuccessfully to flush out the excess glucose through vomit instead of urine.
  7. Weight loss. Despite eating more frequently or feeling ravenous all the time, unexplained weight loss is another symptom caused by heightened blood sugar levels.


First things first, if your blood sugar levels are really high or you’re experiencing symptoms for extended periods of time, you should immediately see a doctor. Here are some changes you can make to your lifestyle though that might help with rising blood sugar:

  1. Exercise: Exercise helps to increase insulin sensitivity and lowers glucose production by the liver. Exercise might also help you lose weight, which can improve blood sugar control.
  2. Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
  3. Eat more fiber: Fiber slows down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream
  4. Choose healthy carbs: Complex carbs like whole grains are slowly broken down and don’t cause spikes in blood sugar. If you’re a big carb consumer, that’s okay! It could even be beneficial to your health, but try and choose smart types of carbohydrates.
  5. Monitor portion sizes: Eating too much of even healthy foods can raise blood sugar levels.
  6. Finally, reduce stress: Stress causes the body to release hormones that can raise blood sugar levels

Luckily, high blood sugar is diagnosable and treatable. But, that doesn’t mean you can take it for granted. Be aware of your diet always, because that is a main cause of high blood sugar. Also, make sure you understand your medical history. Remaining aware of your health in every way is important, but when it comes to blood sugar…hopefully you’re a little more aware now of how to manage it!