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What causes high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) in people with diabetes?

Intermountain Registered Dietitians
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

High blood glucose (hyperglycemia) is when your blood glucose level goes above your target range. There are several reasons why your blood glucose might go too high:

  • skipped insulin dose
  • too little insulin
  • eating more carbs than your insulin dose can cover
  • illness, infection, or fever
  • emotional stress
  • less physical activity than usual

A number of things can cause hyperglycemia:

  • If you have type 1, you may not have given yourself enough insulin.
  • If you have type 2, your body may have enough insulin, but it is not as effective as it should be.
  • You ate more than planned or exercised less than planned.
  • You have stress from an illness, such as a cold or flu.
  • You have other stress, such as family conflicts or school or dating problems.

Lots of things can cause high blood sugar (glucose), or hyperglycemia, in people with diabetes. For example, not taking enough insulin, being sick, or eating lots of food can cause high blood sugar. When people eat, their glucose level goes up, but not all foods are created equal. Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on blood sugar, so when eating them, people with diabetes should choose healthy sources such as whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.