The Difference Between Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

Diabetes is a condition which is known to elevate the levels of blood glucose levels in the body of the patient. But there are times when the level of blood glucose either becomes too high or too low. When the blood glucose is too high, the condition is called hyperglycemia and when it is low beyond a certain level, it is called hypoglycemia. In this article, we shall analyze and study the differences between the two conditions. So, join in for the article “The Difference Between Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia.”

Table of Contents

Meaning of Hyperglycemia Versus Hypoglycemia

Let us first understand the difference in the meaning of the two terms:

Hyperglycemia refers to very high blood glucose levels in a diabetic patient. In fact, the level of fasting blood sugar is more than 126 mg per dl while the random blood glucose level is somewhat more than 200 mg per dl.

Hypoglycemia, on the other hand, refers to extremely low levels of blood glucose levels in a diabetes patient. In this case, the patient experiences a fasting blood glucose level of up to 126 mg per dl while the normal level of blood glucose is less than even 70 mg per dl. There are many other differences between the two terms which are explained as below:

Symptoms of  Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

Another difference in the two types of the condition is with reference to the signs and symptoms of the two. Following are the signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia:

Warning Signs of Hyperglycemia

Following are the symptoms of high blood glucose levels:

  • Increase in fatigue and weakness
  • Irritation in the patient
  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive hunger
  • Weight loss in spite of eating too much
  • The patient has difficulty in concentrating
  • There is dizziness and a sense of drowsiness in the patient
  • Increased urination as well as thirst at all times
  • A few patients also have a lot of headaches

Warning Signs of Hypoglycemia

Following are the symptoms of low blood glucose levels:

  • The patient feels hungry at all times
  • Feeling of dizziness and anxiety
  • Pale skin
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling that the patient will faint
  • Rapid pulse rate and heartbeat
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • The patient starts shaking
  • Occurrence of seizures as well as a coma
  • Crying out in the sleep
  • Sudden aggressive behavior

While the onset of hypoglycemia is rapid, the condition of high blood glucose level is usually preceded by ill health a few days before its onset.

Causes of Hyperglycemia Versus Hypoglycemia

The two conditions are extremely complicated and must be avoided to the maximum possible extent. There are a few differences in the causes that lead to these conditions.

Causes of Hyperglycemia

The main causes of extremely high levels of blood glucose include:

  • A diet consisting of high amount of carbohydrates
  • Too much of physical stress caused due to illness, etc.
  • Relocation or a new job which might lead to physiological stress in the patient
  • Lack of any type of physical movements
  • Not taking the medicines appropriately and skipping important doses
  • Certain medicines may also lead to high blood glucose levels.

Causes of Hypoglycemia

The main causes of extremely low levels of blood glucose include:

  • Drinking too much alcohol without eating appropriately
  • Suddenly getting involved in physical exercise or over-exercising in certain durations
  • Psychological as well as any type of physical stress
  • Skipped meal
  • Not taking enough carbohydrates or taking too many carbohydrates
  • Not taking the medicines or insulin as prescribed

Let us now compare the two conditions with respect to the risk factors that lead to these conditions. The same is explained in the paragraph that follows:

What are the Risk Factors?

The next point of difference between the two conditions of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia is the risk factors that can cause these conditions:

The risk factors in case of hyperglycemia are stress and the use of excessive drugs by patients. On the other hand, a patient suffers from the problem of extremely low blood glucose levels when he is taking medicines, there is an infection caused, or there is a problem in the functioning of the kidney.

What are the Complications of Each Condition?

The complications from hyperglycemia are extremely severe and could lead to:

  • Strokes and heart attacks
  • Amputations of different body parts
  • Disorder in the smooth flow of blood in the body
  • Diabetic eye disease, and other kidney-related conditions
  • Hyperglycemia is also known to cause a life-threatening condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis in which the number of ketones in the blood increase to dangerously high levels. This can even cause a patient to slip into a diabetic coma.
  • Another condition that can be caused by high blood glucose levels is known as Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome which could also lead to diabetic coma in the patients

Hypoglycemia too is a complicated condition leading to complication such as:

  • A diabetic shock
  • Seizures
  • High level of disorientation in the people
  • The patient also becomes unconscious
  • This could lead to death in the patient as well when left untreated

Treatment of the Two Conditions

Finally, let us see how to deal with hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. This is important as the treatment of both the conditions are different.

Treatment of Hyperglycemia

In order to deal with very high blood glucose levels, you should do the following:

  • Take the medicines as prescribed by your doctor
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take proper diet as prescribed by your dietician
  • Keep monitoring your blood sugar levels effectively
  • Besides, there are therapies that help in dealing with the problem of high blood glucose levels. these therapies include:
  • Electrolyte replacement which helps to revive the smooth functioning of the heart, muscles, as well as the nerves
  • Insulin therapy which helps to fight with the excess ketones that must have been accumulated in the blood
  • Fluid replacement therapy to make up for the important fluids that the body must have lost due to excessive urination.

Treatment for Hypoglycemia include the following

  • Taking of appropriate snack such as a hard candy, fruit juice, skimmed milk, glucose tablets, honey, etc. when the person is slipping into a diabetic shock.
  • If the situation does not stabilize, seeking medical help as early as possible
  • Regularly monitoring the level of blood glucose levels.
  • Regular exercising and following a proper diet plan also helps to fight hypoglycemia

Both the conditions can effectively be treated with a proper and regular diet, regular physical exercise, and taking medicines as prescribed.

We hope that the above post has been helpful in helping you to understand the differences between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Both are conditions which mostly affect a diabetes patient and needs to be dealt efficiently. Preventive measures for both are similar and are not difficult to implement!

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