What Happens When a Diabetic Has Too Much Sugar?

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Diabetes affects how your body uses and converts glucose (blood sugar). Your body needs glucose to make energy for your cells. These cells make up your muscles and tissues. Without glucose, your body becomes deprived of energy. Diabetes can result in too much glucose in your system. Having too much sugar in the body can lead to serious health issues, such as hyperglycemia, nerve damage, ketoacidosis or retinopathy. It is important to take medications as prescribed by your physician in order to prevent these complications.


  • According to Diabetes Care Group, normal blood sugar levels are between 80 and 120 mg/dl. When blood sugar levels go above these numbers, it can cause hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia can be the result of eating foods that turn into sugar (such as carbohydrates), not taking enough insulin, or being sick or stressed. When you develop hyperglycemia, you will develop symptoms of frequent urination, increased thirst or hunger, blurred vision, headache and fatigue.


  • Neuropathy, or nerve damage, occurs when excess sugar damages the walls of the capillaries. You may experience tingling, numbness, burning, or pain in your fingertips and toes. According to the Mayo Clinic, if nerve damage isn't treated, the affected limbs can eventually lose all feeling. If nerves within the digestive track become damaged, this can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. With men, nerve damage can lead to erectile dysfunction.


  • Diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to coma and death. If your body can't produce enough insulin or cannot use it efficiently, glucose remains stored in your blood. As a result, the glucose can't get to your blood cells to be used as energy. Your blood sugar levels rise as your body begins to break down fat for energy. According to the Mayo Clinic, toxic acids known as keotones are then produced. The keotones get released into your blood, and a host of symptoms occur. Too much acid in your blood stream can result in dehydration, feeling tired, feeling thirsty, rapid breathing, having fruity breath or feeling confused. These symptoms require immediate medical attention.

Diabetic Retinopathy

  • When blood sugar levels rise, your eye lens may swell, causing blurred vision. Over time, too much sugar in your blood damages the blood vessels that feed your retina. According to the Mayo Clinic, early diabetic retinopathy is "the most common type of retinopathy." Blood vessels within the retina weaken, which can then result in the development of protruding bulges. Blood or fluid can then leak into the retina, causing swelling of nerve fibers. If the condition worsens, you can develop advanced diabetic retinopathy.

Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Advanced diabetic retinopathy is a severe condition affecting the eyes. Abnormal blood vessels within your eyes grow and swell. These blood vessels then ooze into the clear part of your eye. Scar tissue develops, which can then cause the retina to detach itself from the back of the eye. Pressure can build within the eye, and damage can occur to the nerve that carries images from your eye to the brain.



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