You might think that high blood sugar levels are obvious, but it’s entirely possible to experience high blood sugar symptoms. There are many people who don’t know they have high blood sugar, so if this has happened to you, you’re definitely not alone.

As of 2018, more than 34 million people in the United States have diabetes, which is caused by insulin resistance (as in type 2 diabetes) or high blood sugar. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your pancreas doesn’t make any or enough insulin (in type 1 diabetes). But according to the CDC, 21% of adults with diabetes don’t know they have it. In addition, 88 million people in the United States, or more than one in three adults, have diabetes, when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes, and only 15% of adults have diabetes. A health professional diagnosed them with the disease, the CDC said.

“There are so many high-risk people in the U.S. today who are unaware,” Betul Hatipoglu, M.D., an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told SELF. In these situations, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of high blood sugar, Dr. Hatipoglu says, and seek medical attention if you experience them (as well as getting tested if you’re asymptomatic but have risk factors).

With that in mind, here are the symptoms of high blood sugar and what to do if you experience them.

What is high blood sugar?
High blood sugar (or hyperglycemia) occurs when excess glucose builds up in the blood. This is more of a concern for people with diabetes. Our bodies are very good at keeping our blood sugar levels in perfect balance, Deena Adimolam, M.D., assistant professor of endocrinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, tells SELF. But in some cases, a person with diabetes can have high blood sugar.

Blood sugar (also called blood glucose) is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), and fasting blood sugar levels above 125 mg/dL are considered hyperglycemia, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A person may be considered hyperglycemic if their blood sugar level is greater than 180 mg/dL 1 to 2 hours after eating, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Healthy blood sugar
Normally, when glucose from the food we eat enters the bloodstream, the pancreas releases just enough insulin to move the glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells, the NIDDK explains. . It keeps blood glucose levels within a certain range. “A person who has no problem with blood sugar control should never become hyperglycemic,” says Dr. Adimolam.

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