​​Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are both medical conditions that are characterized by abnormal blood sugar levels. Sugar (or glucose) is one of the main sources of energy that the body utilizes and is tightly regulated by the hormone insulin. Hyperglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels rise above the normal range, usually due to either insufficient production of insulin or improper utilization.

While hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels drop below normal ranges which often is a result of excessive insulin or inadequate glucose consumption. Both glycemia conditions have distinct symptoms, causes, and treatments, making it essential to understand their differences to manage and prevent potential complications effectively.

What is hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia[1] is a medical condition that is characterized by abnormally low levels of sugar in the bloodstream.

This typically occurs when blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dL and can result from various factors which include excessive insulin production due to eating sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods that can spike glucose levels after a meal; prolonged fasting; intense physical activity; critical illness and certain medications (i.e. beta blockers).

Hypoglycemia commonly affects those with diabetes who use insulin or other glucose-lowering medications. Four in five people[2] with type 1 diabetes experience hypoglycemia while half of those with type 2 diabetes experience this condition.

What is hyperglycemia?

Hyperglycemia[3] is a condition characterized by high levels of sugar in the bloodstream which is usually above 125 mg/dL when fasting or above 180 mg/dL after eating two hours after (postprandial).

Prolonged hyperglycemia most commonly leads to pre-diabetes[4] or type 2 diabetes mellitus[5], a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by either low insulin production from the pancreas or impaired glucose utilization in the cells, also called insulin resistance.

Today, 1 in 10 (37 million) Americans[6] are diagnosed with diabetes with 90-95% of them having type 2 diabetes. In the long run, hyperglycemia can also lead to damaged blood vessels, nerves, and other organs.

What’s the difference between hypoglycemia & hyperglycemia?

Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia[7] are two contrasting conditions related to blood sugar levels. They are both diagnosed and treated differently but can have long lasting effects if prolonged are not properly treated.

Hypoglycemia refers to very low blood sugar levels that are typically below 70 mg/dL, and is most often associated with those that have diabetes, excessive insulin production or use, inadequate food intake, certain glucose lowering medications or vigorous physical activity.

In contrast, hyperglycemia mainly signifies high blood glucose that is above 125 mg/dL (fasting) or 180 mg/dL (post-meal), and is the hallmark diagnosis of diabetes caused by either insufficient insulin or insulin resistance. Prolonged hyperglycemia can lead to serious complications that will affect multiple organs and cause serious damage later in life.

How does the body balance glucose?

The body ensures to maintain a balance of glucose[8] through a highly regulated process to stabilize blood sugar levels. Typically, when carbohydrates are consumed, the digestive system breaks them down into glucose molecules which enter the bloodstream. The pancreas then releases the hormone, insulin, which enables the cells to absorb glucose for energy or storage.

Whenever blood glucose levels drop, the pancreas releases glucagon, which prompts the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream. This interplay of insulin and glucagon helps regulate glucose levels, allowing cells to access energy when needed and preventing blood sugar from reaching dangerous highs or lows, thus ensuring the body’s overall metabolic stability.

How does hypoglycemia occur with or without diabetes?

Hypoglycemia Hyperglycemia
Shakiness or trembling Increased thirst
Dizziness or lightheadedness Frequent urination
Sweating, especially cold sweats Fatigue or weakness
Irritability or mood changes Blurred vision
Confusion or difficulty concentrating Dry mouth
Rapid heartbeat or palpitations Rapid and deep breathing (Kussmaul breathing)
Blurred vision Fruity-smelling breath (acetone breath)
Headache Nausea or vomiting
Weakness or fatigue Confusion or difficulty concentrating
Nausea or stomach discomfort Abdominal pain
Loss of coordination5 Flushed or red skin
Seizures (in severe cases) Rapid heartbeat or palpitations (in severe cases)
Loss of consciousness (in severe cases) Unconsciousness or diabetic coma (in severe cases)

Hypoglycemia[9] mainly occurs in those with diabetes but can also occur in those without the condition. In those with diabetes, hypoglycemia often results from an excessive dose of insulin or other glucose-lowering medications, insufficient food intake, delayed meals, or increased physical activity without adjusting medication doses. On the other hand, non-diabetic hypoglycemia can be caused by factors such as certain medications (i.e. blood pressure), not eating enough, excessive alcohol consumption, hormonal disorders, critical illnesses, kidney or liver problems, adrenal gland tumors and metabolic disorders. In both cases, when blood glucose levels drop below the normal range, severe symptoms develop which often necessitates prompt treatment to either raise or lower blood sugar levels back to normal.

Does hyperglycemia occur with or without diabetes?

In the case of hyperglycemia, it can also occur in those with or without diabetes. In those with diabetes, hyperglycemia primarily results from insufficient insulin production or impaired insulin action, causing glucose to accumulate in the bloodstream instead of entering cells for energy. Uncontrolled diabetes, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, illness, or improper medication management can all contribute to hyperglycemia in diabetic individuals. However, in non-diabetics, it can be caused by factors like pancreatitis, hormonal imbalances, certain medications, infections, underlying medical conditions (i.e. Cushing’s syndrome) and also those with lack of physical activity and poor diet. Regardless of the cause, prolonged hyperglycemia can lead to serious complications, underscoring the importance of managing blood sugar levels effectively.

What symptoms indicate low blood sugar & high blood sugar?

Blood Sugar Level

Although symptoms[10] might be shown if blood sugar levels are too low, sometimes individuals may not experience symptoms of high blood sugar levels right away until complications start to occur. It’s important to note that individual responses to either glycemia condition can vary, and not everyone may experience all of these symptoms.

What are the complications of hypoglycemia & hyperglycemia?

Complications[11] of hypoglycemia may include:

  • Seizures or convulsions (in severe cases)
  • Unconsciousness or coma (in untreated severe cases)
  • Falls and injuries due to impaired coordination and consciousness
  • Impaired cognitive function and confusion
  • Anxiety or mood changes
  • Reduced quality of life and productivity
  • Worsening symptoms in individuals with heart disease or other chronic conditions

Complications of hyperglycemia may include:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in individuals with type 1 diabetes
  • Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) in individuals with type 2 diabetes
  • Long-term damage to blood vessels, nerves, and organs
  • Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease
  • Vision problems and diabetic retinopathy
  • Nerve damage and peripheral neuropathy
  • Kidney damage and diabetic nephropathy
  • Foot ulcers and potential amputations in severe cases
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Increased susceptibility to infections and delayed recovery.

How to treat hypoglycemia & hyperglycemia?

Treatment for hypoglycemia involves quickly raising blood glucose levels within range to avoid further complications. This can be achieved by consuming fast-acting sources of sugar like glucose tablets, fruit juice, or sugary snacks. Also regular monitoring of blood sugar is crucial to prevent recurrence. For more severe cases or unconsciousness, emergency medical assistance and glucagon injections may be necessary.

To treat hyperglycemia , individuals with diabetes may need to adjust their medication or insulin doses, take all medications as prescribed, and adhere to a healthy diet and exercise regimen. Drinking water and staying hydrated can help flush out excess sugar so this is just as critical to prevent organ injury in the future. In severe cases, hospitalization and specialized medical interventions may be required to bring blood sugar levels back to normal.

How to prevent sugar levels from going too low or too high?

Prevent sugar levels

There are various ways and tips that can be incorporated to prevent blood sugar levels from going too low or too high.

  • Regularly monitor blood sugar levels using a glucometer, especially for individuals with diabetes.
  • Maintain a balanced diet with appropriate carbohydrate intake, emphasizing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Time meals and snacks evenly throughout the day to avoid prolonged periods without food.
  • Adjust insulin or medication doses as prescribed by a healthcare professional and in response to changes in activity or diet.
  • Engage in regular physical activity to improve insulin sensitivity and manage blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, as it can lead to hypoglycemia.
  • Manage stress levels through relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, as stress can affect blood sugar regulation.

  • Incorporate supplements such as VazoPril which uses natural ingredients to help lower blood pressures, cholesterol and blood sugar levels thus aiding further preventing metabolic syndrome[12].

Frequently asked questions

How do you detect hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia can be detected through symptoms and blood glucose monitoring. Common symptoms include shakiness, dizziness, sweating, confusion, and irritability. Regularly checking blood sugar levels using a glucose meter help confirm hypoglycemia. In individuals with diabetes, it's essential to be aware of early warning signs in order to take prompt action and prevent severe complications.

What is an alarming blood sugar level?

An alarming blood sugar level depends on the individual’s health conditions. Generally, a blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL is considered hypoglycemic and requires immediate attention. Similarly, extremely high blood sugar levels, such as above 200 mg/dL , can be alarming and may necessitate intervention to prevent complications like diabetic ketoacidosis if the person has diabetes.

Which is worse, hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia?

Both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia can have serious consequences, but the severity depends on various factors. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to loss of consciousness and may pose immediate risks, while prolonged hyperglycemia can cause chronic complications like heart diseases, kidney problems, and nerve and eye damage. Both conditions require management to prevent long-term health issues.

What are the 4 common causes of hyperglycemia?

  • Insufficient insulin: In individuals with diabetes, insufficient insulin production or impaired insulin action leads to elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Inadequate medication management: Not taking diabetes medications as prescribed or using incorrect doses can result in hyperglycemia.
  • Poor diet: Consuming excessive carbohydrates, sugary foods, or large meals can contribute to high blood sugar levels.
  • Lack of physical activity: Physical inactivity can lead to more insulin resistance, making it harder for the body to regulate blood sugar effectively.


Both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia are two significant medical conditions involving abnormal blood glucose levels. Hyperglycemia is characterized by high blood sugar and is often associated with diabetes which can lead to serious long-term complications untreated. Hypoglycemia is acute low blood sugar, and poses immediate risks and requires very quick intervention in order to prevent severe consequences. Both conditions can occur with or without diabetes, and their detection and management play a crucial role in maintaining overall health. Regular monitoring, balanced diet, appropriate medication, physical activity, and timely intervention are essential in preventing the adverse effects of these conditions and thus promoting better quality of life overall.