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Dehydration & Hyperglycemia

Instructor: Veronika Polozkova

Masters in International Health. Lesson development experience on different levels from basic alimentary school to academic master level. Languages: English, Dutch, Russian

Dehydration and hyperglycemia have an interesting cause and consequence relationship in which dehydration is both the contributor to and the symptom of hyperglycemia. Learn more about it and how to deal with this.

Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia is a health condition that can be characterized by high glucose levels in the blood. We also call it ''high blood sugar''. It can occur by itself, but in many cases hyperglycemia is a symptom of poorly managed diabetes. However, diabetes and hyperglycemia are not the same thing. Diabetes is a health condition that is diagnosed if several symptoms including hyperglycemia are available. Hyperglycemia is a health condition that can occur together with or independent from diabetes.

Dehydration

Dehydration is a condition in which the body shows symptoms of severely low fluid content. Low water intake is the most obvious cause of dehydration. But it can also have many other reasons, like underlying health conditions, exercise, and environmental factors. Dehydration can be treated with oral or injection fluids supply, depending on the severity of patients condition.

Relationship between dehydration and hyperglycemia

Dehydration in people with hypoglycemia deserves special attention, because it is one of the symptoms of hyperglycemia. As a reaction to over-saturated blood with glucose, our body requires more fluids to balance out the concentration and to flush out the excess glucose. That is why hyperglycemia often goes hand-in-hand with thirst. If severe dehydration occurs in people with hyperglycemia, a life threatening condition called hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) can occur. This condition is a result of dehydration caused by hypoglycemia and causes a coma that can lead to death if not treated in time.

Dehydration in hypoglycemia also works the other way around. If a person is severely dehydrated, then the concentration of elements in blood, among which also glucose, is high in relation to the available amount of fluids. If we measure blood glucose in dehydrated people with diabetes, we see hyperglycemia values. Besides that, symptoms of dehydration like thirst, fatigue, blurred vision and headache are also the symptoms that characterize hyperglycemia. People with hyperglycemia and diabetes are therefore advised to keep their liquid intake optimal, especially when feeling typical symptoms, to avoid glucose peaks in blood and further complications.

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