Hypoglycemia vs. Hyperglycemia

Key difference

The key difference between hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia is that blood sugar level decreases than the normal value in hypoglycemia while blood sugar level is increased in the case of hyperglycemia

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Hypoglycemia vs. Hyperglycemia

Hypoglycemia is actually a state in which blood sugar level (BSL) of our body decreases than the normal value. Normal fasting blood sugar level is taken as 70 to 109 mg/dl while normal postprandial blood sugar level is taken as 140 t0 170 mg/dl. If the blood sugar level is greater than this reference range in fasting or post-meal condition accordingly, it is labeled as hyperglycemia.

Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia are pale skin, tachycardia, i.e., increased pulse, sweating, hunger, dizziness,cold feet, and cold hands, mental confusion, anxiety, rapid pulse rate, and  sluggishness. While signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia are polydipsia, i.e., increased thirst, polyuria, i.e., increased the frequency of urination, pulse rate is increased, and it is high volume, the skin is hot and dry, abdominal pain, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, weight loss in the persistent condition, fatigue and increased rate of respiration.

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There may be many causes of hypoglycemia that includes low dietary intake of carbohydrate-containing food, GIT upset, malabsorption of sugar from GIT tract, excessive use of insulin or other glucose-lowering drugs or excessive exercise. Excess alcohol intake without food eating also leads to hypoglycemia Causes of hyperglycemia includes excessive intake of sugar-containing food, the absence of exercise or other physical activities, stress, side effects of drugs or diabetes type 1 or 2.

If hypoglycemia persists, it damages the kidney, eyes and affects the brain function and thus causes confusion. It also results in the sluggishness of a person and thus reduces the working ability of the affected individual. Persistent hyperglycemia leads to retinal damage and thus affecting the vision, nephropathy, i.e., kidney damage, neuropathy, i.e., decreasing the ability of feeling sensations of touch, position, and vibration. It also causes confusion, muscle ache, and come in extreme conditions.

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Usually, hypoglycemia develops suddenly while hyperglycemia develops slowly or progressively over the periods of months or years, but it may develop suddenly in diabetic patients.

Both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are detected by measuring the level of blood glucose either fasting or random via a glucometer.

Complications of hypoglycemia include coma, mental retardation or death in extreme cases while complications of hyperglycemia include diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome which leads to coma or even death if untreated.

Comparison Chart

Basis  Hypoglycemia Hyperglycemia
Definition It is a condition in which blood glucose level is decreased than normal value.It is a condition in which blood glucose level is increased than the normal reference range.
Onset It is usually sudden in onset.It is progressive or slow in onset but may develop suddenly in diabetic patients.
Signs and symptoms Cold hands and feet, rapid pulse, fast heartbeat, sluggishness, confusion, fatigue, sweating, excessive hunger, and anxiety.Pulse rate is increased, and it is high volume, dry skin, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, and excessive urination.
Causes Decreased intake of carbohydrate-containing food, malabsorption of carbs from GIT, excessive exercise, GIT upset, excess insulin or sugar lowering drugs.Increased intake of carbs containing diet, sedentary lifestyle, type 1 or type 2 diabetes,
Complications Mental retardation, confusion, kidney damage, eye damage, coma and death in extreme cases.Damage to kidney and eyes, neuropathy, i.e., decreased the ability of feeling sensations, sluggishness, diabetic ketoacidosis, and hyperosmolar nonketotic coma.
Fasting value If blood sugar level is lower than 70 mg per dl.If blood sugar level is greater than 110 mg per dl.
Postprandial value If blood sugar level is lower than 140 mg per dl after 2 hours of carbs containing diet.If blood sugar level is greater than 170 mg per dl.
How it is measured? It is measured in blood via glucometer.It is also measured in blood via glucometer.

What is Hypoglycemia?

The word “hypo” means “decrease in” and the word glycemia means “glucose or sugar level in blood.” Thus the term hypoglycemia is used to denote the decreased sugar level in the blood than the normal reference value. The normal value of free glucose in the blood is 70 to 109 mg per dl in fasting state and 140 to 170 mg per dl 2 hours after carbs containing meal. Thus hypoglycemia is labeled by taking the blood sample of the patient and checking the sugar in it and knowing either the patient is in fasting or post-meal state. Hypoglycemia is a medical emergency if the blood sugar level is lowered than 50 mg per dl.

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There may be many reasons of hypoglycemia that includes decreased food intake of carbs, GIT upset, decreased absorption of sugar from the gut, excessive exercise, extra use of insulin or sugar lowering drugs or alcohol intake without eating food.

Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia are feeling sluggishness, confusion, rapid pulse, rapid heart rate, fatigue, cold extremities, and sweating.

Hypoglycemia may lead to eye or kidney damage if persists and even leads to coma and death in extreme conditions. It is detected by a glucometer or a lab test.

What is Hyperglycemia?

The word “hyper” refers to “increase in” and glycemia means “blood sugar level.” Thus hyperglycemia attributes to a state when the blood glucose level is increased than the normal reference range. It is a medical emergency if it is increased than 250 mg per dl.

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Signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia include excessive thirst, frequent urination termed as polyuria, fatigue, sluggishness, dry skin, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

There may be many reasons for hyperglycemia that include excess intake of carbs containing food, resting frequently and sedentary lifestyle and type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus.

For the treatment of hyperglycemia in an emergency, insulin is given via IV, IM or subcutaneous route.

If hyperglycemia not treated, it leads to diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperosmolar nonketotic coma. that conditions lead to death if untreated.

Key differences

  1. Hypoglycemia means a decrease in the blood sugar level than the normal reference range while hyperglycemia means an increase in the blood sugar level than the normal value.
  2. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include excessive hunger and cold hands and feet while that of hyperglycemia include excessive thirst, frequent micturition, and abdominal pain.
  3. Causes of hypoglycemia include less intake of carbs, excessive exercise or excess use of insulin while that of hyperglycemia include sedentary lifestyle, excess intake of carbs or type 1 or 2 diabetes.
  4. Hypoglycemia leads to coma if untreated while hyperglycemia leads to diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperosmolar nonketotic coma.

Conclusion

Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are the conditions commonly encountered in the medical emergency unit. Anyone may have both of these conditions any time in life due to some reasons so a common person must know their signs and symptoms, causes and reference values. In the above article, we learned the clear differences between hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and some detail about them.

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