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Symptoms of high blood sugar in people without diabetes

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Frequent urinationExcessive thirstBlurred visionFeeling hungryFeeling tiredTreatment optionsSpeaking with a doctorSummary
People without diabetes may still experience symptoms of high blood sugar. This can occur due to underlying health conditions such as pancreatic cancer or Cushing Syndrome.
Medically reviewed by Lauren Castiello, MS, AGNP-C
Written by Cathy Lovering
Updated on

Usually, there is a link between high blood sugar, also called hyperglycemia, and diabetes. However, people without diabetes can also experience high blood sugar due to underlying health conditions, such as pancreatic cancer, Cushing Syndrome, pregnancy, or stroke.

The symptoms of hyperglycemia in people without diabetes can mirror the symptoms seen in people with diabetes, such as frequent urination and thirst.

These symptoms can result from how your body processes glucose. If your glucose levels are too high, this may cause your kidneys to overwork to manage the excess sugar. This can lead to what you notice as feeling thirsty or the need to urinate more often.

Common symptoms of high blood sugar in people without diabetes may include:

Frequent urination

Frequent urination is when you pee more than you typically would. This can happen if your blood sugar level is high, as the kidneys cannot filter sugar from the blood the way they usually do. 

The kidneys create urine and pass it back into the bloodstream. In the case of high blood sugar, they cannot reabsorb all of it. This results in a cycle and an increased urge to urinate.

Excessive thirst

Person pouring water into a glass to depict symptoms of high blood sugar, such as excessive thirst.
d3sign/Getty Images

The feeling of thirst with high blood sugar is closely related to excessive urination. If you urinate more, you’re getting rid of more water from the body than usual. 

Excessive urination can cause dehydration, which can lead to feelings of thirst, as you might not have enough fluids in your system. 

Blurred vision

Blurry vision is a temporary condition that can result from high blood sugar. It often goes away when your sugar levels decrease into the expected range. 

Your vision can become blurry as high blood sugar may cause a change in fluids in your eyes. It can also cause swelling of the eye tissues responsible for focus. This fluid change and swelling can go down as your blood glucose reduces.

Feeling hungry

High blood sugar can also make you feel hungry. This is because the sugar in your blood is not reaching your cells in a way that your body can use for energy

Since your body cannot efficiently convert the glucose in your blood to energy, it might signal you to eat. This can result in you feeling more hungry than usual.

Feeling tired

If you have high blood sugar, you may be more likely to feel fatigued, although researchers are not exactly sure why. The phenomenon is studied mostly in people who have diabetes. The association of tiredness with diabetes can come from many different factors, such as lifestyle or diet.

There is some evidence that high blood sugar can have a direct correlation with feelings of fatigue in people with type 2 diabetes, but more research is necessary. 

Treatment options for high blood sugar 

Managing your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes can involve a combination of physical activity, following a diabetes meal plan, and taking insulin if necessary.

The treatment can be quite different if you do not have diabetes and experience high blood sugar. A doctor will typically determine whether an underlying condition could be causing your symptoms. 

Hyperglycemia in people without diabetes could result from:

  • stress
  • conditions that affect the pancreas, such as pancreatic cancer
  • conditions that affect how the body creates and uses insulin, such as Cushing Syndrome
  • pregnancy
  • acute illness such as heart attack or stroke

If you have high blood sugar levels, a doctor may prescribe the following medications:

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When to speak with a doctor

You might want to speak with a doctor if you have symptoms of high blood sugar and you do not have a diagnosis of diabetes. They can assess your symptoms and complete any testing.

If you are taking medication, consider mentioning this to a doctor so they can assess whether a change to your prescription could help. 

Summary

Symptoms of high blood sugar in those without diabetes can be similar to those who do have the condition.

However, diabetes may not be the reason your blood sugar is high. Certain medications, stress, and some medical conditions can cause symptoms that mirror hyperglycemia.

If you are experiencing symptoms of high blood sugar, consider speaking with a doctor. They can help identify the cause and suggest a suitable treatment option for your condition.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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