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Blood Sugar Levels Over 400? Beware!

written by: Veronica Sky • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 7/13/2011

Learn what to do when blood sugar levels are over 400. Most importantly, read about what you can do to lower these risks and prevent this from happening.

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    The Magic Number

    When blood sugar levels are over 400 mg/dl, it's no joke. There are many serious risks associated with blood sugar levels this high, but the good news is there are ways to prevent such high levels.

    Normal blood sugar levels range from 70 mg/dl to 120 mg/dl. High blood sugar levels may cause you to feel tired, thirsty and feel the urge to urinate frequently. Other side effects include increased susceptibility to infections and blurry vision.For diabetics who are in the later stages in life, a high blood sugar level can result in dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

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    The Dangerous Duo

    While the symptoms discussed above are associated with high blood sugar levels in general, there are two main dangers that are specifically linked to blood sugar levels over 400. The first is hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS). HHNS occurs when the body’s blood sugar levels rise to unsafe levels. As a result, the body tries to get rid of the excess sugar by passing it into the urine. Eventually this could result in severe dehydration which in turn can lead to seizures, coma and even death.

    There are several reasons why HHNS can occur: illness, infection, skipping doses of medicine or not adhering to one’s prescribed meal plan. Symptoms of HHNS include extreme thirst, dry skin, high fever, sleepiness, loss of vision, hallucinations and weakness on one side of the body. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately. In the meantime, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and test your sugar so that you can report your findings to the doctor.

    The other danger that is associated with high blood sugar levels is diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition occurs when there are high levels of ketones (acids that build up in the blood) in the body from excess blood sugar.

    Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include thirst, frequent urination, sleepiness, dry skin, nausea, trouble breathing, confusion and high blood sugar levels. Should you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately as diabetic ketoacidosis can result in coma or death. Be sure to check your urine for ketones every 4 to 6 hours so that you can monitor the situation and keep your doctor updated.

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    Thinking Long Term

    Although these short-term effects of blood sugar levels over 400 can be frightening, the long-term effects are also to be concerned with. Persistent high blood sugar levels can result in eye disease, also known as retinopathy, which can lead to blindness.

    Another complication is kidney disease, known as nephropathy, which can lead to kidney failure. Neuropathy which is a nerve disease that commonly leads to amputations. There are a host of other issues that can occur as a result of unchecked sugar levels including, heart disease.

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    Prevention is the Name of the Game

    There is no doubt that having a blood sugar level over 400 is a dangerous thing, but the question is, what can you do to lower these risks? Proper diet is key to lowering the risks associated with high blood sugar.

    Since carbohydrates are the body's main source of blood sugar, diabetics need to eat carbohydrates that the body will break down very slowly to avoid large upswings in blood sugar levels. The glycemic index rates carbohydrates according to how long it takes the body to absorb them and how severely they impact blood sugar levels. Diabetics should try to stick with carbohydrates rated 55 or less on the glycemic index. Carbohydrates rated between 56 and 69 should be consumed in moderation, and those with a glycemic-index rating of 70 and higher should be avoided.

    In addition to eating right, make sure you follow your doctor's guidelines for taking your diabetes medication and checking your sugar. Set a specific time for these activities so that you do not forget.

    Diabetes does not have to be a life changing condition. With hard work and consistency, you can stay healthy for many years to come.

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    References:

    ABCNews.com: What Causes High Blood Sugar And What Harm Can It Do To My Body?

    MayoClinic.com: Diabetic Ketoacidosis