Hyperglycemia high blood sugar Hyperglykämie

Hyperglycemia means that your blood sugar (glucose) level is very high. Your body needs glucose to work correctly, but abnormally high levels put health at risk. High blood sugar is the most common feature of diabetes, but it’s possible to have hyperglycemia without being diabetic.

This article has been verified by a medical professional

Impact of hyperglycemia on fertility

High blood sugar makes it more difficult to conceive and can increase the chance of complications during pregnancy. Women with hyperglycemia and insulin resistance or diabetes may have irregular menstrual cycles and not ovulate. This condition can also lower egg quality and raise the risk of birth defects. Diabetes is associated with a higher probability of primary ovarian insufficiency, when a woman reaches menopause before age 40 because there are no more eggs in the ovaries. During pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes may lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth.

Potential causes of hyperglycemia

Too little insulin in the body, an inability to use insulin properly (insulin resistance), increased glucose production, and an inability to use glucose for energy can all lead to hyperglycemia.

Several factors can cause high blood sugar or increase the risk of developing hyperglycemia:

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy
  • Being overweight or obese
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Cushing syndrome 
  • Surgery or trauma 
  • Certain medications (e.g. glucocorticoids, phenytoin, and estrogens) –
  • Diseases of the pancreas (e.g. pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and cystic fibrosis)
  • Recent stroke or heart attack 
  • Acromegaly (a rare hormonal disorder causing high levels of growth hormone)

In people with diabetes, the following factors may lead to high blood sugar levels:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Dehydration
  • Infections

Symptoms of hyperglycemia

High blood sugar can cause the following physical signs:

  • Thirst and dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent need to pee
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss
  • Recurrent vaginal and skin infections
  • Slow-healing wounds

If you have type 1 diabetes and hyperglycemia, watch out for the following symptoms because they signal life-threatening ketoacidosis (build-up of toxic acids in the blood):

  • Vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fruity-smelling breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion

If you experience ongoing diarrhea and vomiting, please seek immediate medical care.

Diagnosis of hyperglycemia

Healthcare providers perform lab tests for hyperglycemia as part of routine screenings for diabetes or when people are experiencing symptoms of high blood sugar.

  • The fasting blood sugar test measures your blood glucose after you haven’t eaten for over 8 hours. 
  • The hemoglobin A1c test shows your average blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months.
  • The fructosamine test measures blood glucose levels over 2-3 weeks.
  • The oral glucose tolerance test measures your body’s ability to process sugar by testing your blood glucose levels before and 2 hours after you drink a sweet drink.

If the test results confirm hyperglycemia, you will probably need another test to see if you have prediabetes, diabetes, insulin resistance, or glucose intolerance. 

If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, you may also have self-tests that you can do at home to monitor your blood glucose levels and help prevent complications from hyperglycemia.

Treatment to improve fertility

Getting active is a great way to lower blood sugar and boost your reproductive health, particularly if you have type 2 diabetes. Exercise can significantly reduce insulin resistance and builds muscle that can absorb more blood glucose. If you spend a lot of the day sitting, taking a break with some squats or light walking every half hour helps lower blood sugar, research shows. If you have type 1 diabetes, be aware that exercise isn’t as effective for managing blood glucose as it can lead blood pressure to spike or fall rapidly (hypoglycemia), so talk to your doctor about what’s safe for you. 

Your eating habits have a big influence on your blood sugar levels. To help with hyperglycemia, here are some changes you can make to your diet:

  • Adopt a low-carb diet, and when you do eat carbs, opt for whole grains
  • Choose foods with soluble fiber (oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley)
  • Eat more foods with a low glycemic index (bulgar, barley, unsweetened Greek yogurt, beans, lentils, whole wheat pasta, non-starchy vegetables) 
  • Drink water, especially before a meal
  • Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages 
  • Limit alcohol consumption

At LEVY Health, we offer consultations with registered dietitians who can create a meal plan tailored to your body that will help you control your glucose levels.

Your doctor may also prescribe medication to reduce high blood sugar (metformin),

 and insulin therapy, and advise you to check your blood sugar on a regular basis.

If you have severe hyperglycemia, you’ll likely need emergency treatment with fluids, electrolytes, and insulin in a hospital to get your blood sugar to a healthy range. 

With careful management of your blood sugar, your menstrual cycle and ovulation should return to normal and you will decrease the risk of pregnancy complications. In case you still aren’t ovulating regularly after treatment, fertility medications including clomiphene can induce ovulation. 

If you have diabetes, you may need to change your treatment plan during pregnancy to ensure you’re still meeting your blood sugar targets because hormonal changes can alter your glucose levels. Lastly, not smoking and taking a folic acid supplement will help you have a successful pregnancy.

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