High blood sugar in non diabetics

What are the symptoms of high blood sugar in nondiabetics?

4 min read |
Alistair Clay Author

Author 05.01.2024

Alistair Clay

If you are experiencing extreme thirst or tiredness these could be symptoms of high blood sugar in nondiabetics.

Monitoring your blood sugar can help spot the risks of diabetes and other conditions that could impact your way of life.

Noticing the symptoms of high blood sugar in nondiabetics is critical to prevent future health risks.

This article will cover what symptoms indicate high blood sugar in nondiabetics, with tips to regulate and reduce it.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • Symptoms of high blood sugar in nondiabetics are caused by your body not producing enough insulin, or developing a resistance to it.
  • The symptoms of high blood sugar in nondiabetics include extreme thirst, tiredness, and blurred vision.
  • If you’re not diabetic, recognising the symptoms of high blood sugar gives you the chance to lower your levels.
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What is high blood sugar?

High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, occurs when your blood has a high concentration of glucose. 

Our blood needs to be at a healthy glucose level, as it circulates vital organs and allows them to function.

When we don’t drink enough fluids or consume overly sugary foods, naturally our glucose levels peak. 

This can happen occasionally, but if it’s happening frequently, the risk of developing high blood sugar increases.

I occasionally have high blood sugar, is this a health risk?

Having an occasional rise or dip in your blood sugar levels isn’t necessarily something to worry about.

But if you have high blood sugar often or for a long period, this could lead to hyperglycemia.

Monitoring your glucose levels can help you manage any symptoms of high blood sugar and bring your levels down. 

Learn more about the early signs of diabetes and  how to test for diabetes at home in our expert guides.

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What are the symptoms of high blood sugar?

There are a range of symptoms that can point to high blood sugar in nondiabetics.

Symptoms can be managed easily, but more serious symptoms may need to be checked by healthcare professionals.

Recognising the symptoms and taking steps to manage your high blood sugar, even if you aren’t diabetic, is important. 

As letting symptoms of high blood sugar go untreated can have long-term health consequences, including developing type 2 diabetes.

What symptoms should I look out for?

  • Feeling tired or getting headaches
  • Feeling very dehydrated or excessively hungry
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A numb feeling in your hands and feet
  • The frequent need to urinate
early signs of diabetes

What causes high blood sugar in non-diabetics?

There are a number of health conditions (apart from diabetes) that can cause symptoms of high blood sugar in nondiabetics. 

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s Syndrome affects the production of a hormone which in turn causes excessive amounts of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone.

Cortisol overproduction can lead to insulin resistance as well as decrease the amount the body produces naturally.

Trauma and surgery

People can develop high blood sugar after a traumatic injury or surgery. 

These events can have a similar impact on the body as stress, meaning that cortisol is produced.

Stress-induced hyperglycemia occurs thanks to the release of cortisol and adrenaline which increases the production of glucose.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

People with PCOS have hormonal imbalances that cause increased levels of testosterone, insulin, and inflammatory proteins.

Despite increased levels of insulin, people with PCOS can develop insulin resistance as their insulin hormones cannot bind with glucose.

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Higher blood sugar is normal and necessary in this context to some extent, as energy is needed for recovery. 

But infections can also put the body under a lot of stress, triggering that endocrine fight or flight response. 

Increased levels of cortisol in the body blocks insulin and can keep blood sugar levels too high. 

Want to understand the impact of infections – read more in ‘do UTIs cause confusion in elderly?

What else could cause high blood sugar?

As a nondiabetic, there are some other reasons why you may have higher blood sugar levels.

Eating a consistently high sugar diet which causes you to gain weight can be detrimental to your recommended glucose levels. 

Family history and genetics can increase the likelihood of high blood sugar levels developing into prediabetes.

Plus, some medications can also increase blood sugar, so don’t ignore any side effects or new symptoms.

What happens if symptoms of high blood sugar aren’t treated?

If you dismiss symptoms and leave hyperglycemia untreated, it could lead to serious health problems.

Areas such as the eyes, kidneys, and nerves could be affected as your blood vessels would be high in glucose. 

You could also be diagnosed with diabetes or become pre-diabetic, which could impact your way of life.

If you are a nondiabetic, seek help if you are unsure about monitoring your blood sugar levels.

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Can you develop diabetes from having high blood sugar?

Having high blood sugar doesn’t mean you will get diabetes, however, it could act as a risk factor.

High levels of blood glucose can increase the development of health problems such as heart disease.

However, diabetes could occur if prolonged high blood sugar starts to impact insulin production.

This could indicate prediabetes, so it’s a good idea to book a diabetes blood test if you suspect your symptoms have gotten worse. 

watching sugar intake diabetes

Diabetes and high blood sugar

You can develop type 2 diabetes as a result of having high blood sugar which impacts your body’s insulin use.

This type of diabetes has a closer link to high blood sugar, however, genetic and lifestyle factors can also increase your risk.

Medicine and insulin can manage type 2 diabetes, so seek medical help if you suspect you have this form of diabetes. 

But it can also be managed and in some cases reversed by lowering high blood sugar and leading a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

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What can I do as a non-diabetic?

If you suspect you have high blood sugar levels, the best thing to do is to start by finding the cause.

Finding the root cause could give you some answers on how to manage your levels. 

Visiting your GP can be the next step if you are unsure, and asking about a diabetes blood test can give you peace of mind. 

Remember that this doesn’t mean you’ll get diabetes, but seeking help will allow you to take action and reduce your levels.

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Alistair Clay Author

Author 05.01.2024

Alistair Clay

Alistair is a founding Director of Sweet Pea Care and the Managing Director of social care communications agency Arc Seven where he advises some of the UK’s biggest care providers.