Managing a hyper

There will be times when you haven’t taken enough insulin to match the carbohydrate that you have eaten, which means that your blood glucose level will be too high. This is known as hyperglycaemia, or a 'hyper' for short

A person doing a finger prick glucose test

Like hypoglycaemia, ‘hypers’ are a fact of life for people with type 1 – it’s pretty difficult to keep your blood glucose within range all the time. A lot of the time, hypers happen when there isn’t enough insulin to match the amount of carbohydrate eaten, however they can also be triggered by stress, illness and even growth spurts.

A hyper doesn’t carry the same immediate risk as a hypo as it won’t make you immediately feel really unwell or to lose consciousness, but frequent high blood glucose can increase the risks of developing complications of type 1 diabetes, so it’s important to minimise this as much as possible. It can also make you feel pretty unwell if you are hyper for too long.

Recognise the symptoms of hyperglylcaemia

Symptoms of hyperglycaemia usually develop over the course of a few days or weeks. Sometimes, there might even not be any symptoms until blood glucose is extremely high, but they may include:

  • Feeling thirsty and having a dry mouth
  • Need to urinate frequently
  • Having blurred vision
  • Feeling tired
  • Losing weight
  • Experiencing recurrent infections such as bladder infections (cystitis), skin infections and thrush
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fruity-smelling breath

It’s important to recognise the symptoms of hyperglycaemia, as very high blood glucose can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which – although completely preventable – can be fatal.

Managing a hyper

High blood glucose can be reduced by regularly testing your blood glucose and matching insulin to food intake, exercise and all the other factors, as closely as possible. If you are worried about how often you have high blood glucose, talk to your healthcare team for help on how to tackle it. New technologies like continuous glucose monitors and flash glucose sensing make blood glucose testing easier, but regular testing with a meter could also help. Insulin pumps have been shown to reduce hyperglycaemia, as have diabetes education programmes like DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating).