The body’s extreme reaction to an infection is a life threatening condition known as sepsis. It can lead to low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
This condition can affect your blood sugar levels, causing them to spike or crash dangerously low.
Here’s more about how sepsis can cause hypoglycemia, how diabetes plays into the equation, and what treatments may help in an inpatient hospital setting.
Yes. Sepsis can cause both high blood sugar and low blood sugar.
Sepsis increases a person’s insulin resistance. When this happens, the body resists the effect of insulin on the blood, and blood sugar rises.
Overall, studies reveal that people with sepsis who develop hypoglycemia have poorer outcomes than those who develop hyperglycemia.
Infections are hard on the body and the immune system. They alter the levels of hormones that regulate blood sugar, among other issues.
Causes of spontaneous hypoglycemia in people with sepsis include:
- lowered levels of cortisol and adrenaline
- changes to glucose metabolism
- increases in the glucose consumption of tissues
Insulin treatment for hyperglycemia-related sepsis may lead to hypoglycemia in some people, as well.
Other factors that may
- not eating regular meals
- organ failure
First, people with diabetes may be at higher risk —
Researchers in a
The review also found that people who have diabetes and sepsis-related hypoglycemia also do not experience an increase in the risk of death from this complication.
Still, blood sugar issues do impact people with sepsis who also have diabetes. Individuals with type 1 and advanced type 2 are at the highest risk of developing sepsis-related hypoglycemia, which is likely related to treatments that increase insulin levels in the body.
Without treatment, hypoglycemia can be dangerous. That’s why promptly treating sepsis may help blood sugar levels return to normal.
- antibiotics to treat the underlying infection
- fluids administered intravenously
- mechanical ventilation to aid with breathing
- medications to regulate blood pressure
- surgery to remove infected tissues
- kidney dialysis to help damaged kidneys filter toxins
Inpatient treatment of hypoglycemia generally involves giving glucose intravenously (IV) in the appropriate concentration.
Consuming rapid-acting carbohydrates (monosaccharides, disaccharides, etc.) is another option for patients who are awake and able to take food by mouth.
After consuming the carbohydrates, staff may check blood sugar every 15 minutes and repeat carb doses as necessary to bring blood sugar into the normal range.
Sepsis can impact a person’s blood glucose levels in various ways. While stress-induced hyperglycemia is more
Low blood sugar may also directly relate to insulin treatment for infection-induced hyperglycemia. Treating sepsis as soon as possible can help restore blood sugar balance and protect against organ failure and death.