What is Hyperglycemia?

Hyperglycemia, hyperglycaemia, or high blood sugar is a condition in which an excessive amount of glucose circulates in the blood plasma.

This is generally a blood glucose level of 10+ mmol/l (180 mg/dl), but symptoms may not start to become noticeable until later numbers such as 15-20+ mmol/l (270-360 mg/dl)or 15.2-32.6 mmol/l. However, chronic levels exceeding 125 mg/dl can produce organ damage.

Glucose levels are measured in either:

  1. Milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl), in the United States and other countries (e.g., Japan, France, Egypt, Colombia); or
  2. Millimoles per litre (mmol/l), which can be acquired by dividing (mg/dl) by factor of 18.

Scientific journals are moving towards using mmol/l; some journals now use mmol/l as

the primary unit but quote mg/dl in parentheses.


  • 72 mg/dl = 4 mmol/l
  • 90 mg/dl = 5 mmol/l
  • 108 mg/dl = 6 mmol/l
  • 126 mg/dl = 7 mmol/l
  • 144 mg/dl = 8 mmol/l
  • 180 mg/dl = 10 mmol/l
  • 270 mg/dl = 15 mmol/l
  • 288 mg/dl = 16 mmol/l
  • 360 mg/dl = 20 mmol/l
  • 396 mg/dl = 22 mmol/l
  • 594 mg/dl = 33 mmol/l

Glucose levels vary before and after meals, and at various times of day; the definition of "normal" varies among medical professionals. In general, the normal range for most people (fasting adults) is about 80 to 110 mg/dl or 4 to 6 mmol/l. A subject with a consistent range above 126 mg/dl or 7 mmol/l is generally held to have hyperglycemia, whereas a consistent range below 70 mg/dl or 4 mmol/l is considered hypoglycemic. In fasting adults, blood plasma glucose should not exceed 126 mg/dl or 7 mmol/l. Sustained higher levels of blood sugar cause damage to the blood vessels and to the organs they supply, leading to the complications of diabetes.

Chronic hyperglycemia can be measured via the HbA1c test. The definition of acute hyperglycemia varies by study, with mmol/l levels from 8 to 15.

Treatment of hyperglycemia requires elimination of the underlying cause, ''e.g.,'' treatment of diabetes when diabetes is the cause. Acute and severe hyperglycemia can be treated by direct administration of insulin in most cases, under medical supervision.

Further Reading

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Hyperglycemia" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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