14/05/2022 / Endocrinology & Diabetes

Can dehydration cause high blood sugar?

Diabetes mellitus is difficult to handle alone and when severe dehydration adds to it, it causes many complications and disorders like kidney disease

Can dehydration cause high blood sugar
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What is dehydration?

  • The scarcity of water in the body caused due to the unavailability of fluids is called dehydration. This will occur when you take less water/fluids or when your body loses all the fluid reserves.  

  • Water is required for the proper functioning of the body to perform its daily activities. Our body comprises 75% water that helps in various functions of our body. You may face mild dehydration, moderate dehydration, or severe dehydration based on the severity of water loss from your body. 

  • It is found that 77% of people do not drink enough water. Only 23% of people always remember to drink water and stay hydrated.

Percentage of dehydration and physical history

Percentage of dehydration and physical history

Why is water important to your body?

Water helps in -

Why is water important
  • Digestion 

  • Excretion

  • Absorption of nutrients

  • Lubrication of joints

  • Production of saliva

  • Supply oxygen 

  • Cushion for bones

  • Control body temperature

  • Shock absorber of the brain, spinal cord, and fetus

Water is lost from the body as sweat when your body temperature is raised by exercise, fever, and warm weather. Loss of water or fluids from the body will reduce the body water level and lead to dehydration.

Symptoms and signs of dehydration

Signs of mild to moderate dehydration can be identified with the following symptoms -

  • Headache

  • Dried mouth, lips, and eyes

  • Dizziness or tired

  • Dark yellow urine with a strong smell

  • Constipation

  • Mood swings

  • Hunger for sweets

  • Dried or flaky skin

  • Muscle cramps

Symptoms and signs of dehydration

Signs of severe dehydration can be identified with the following symptoms- 

  • Pee little or no peeing

  • Excessive thirst

  • Weakness

  • Sunken eyes

  • Extremely dry 

  • Lack of urination 

  • Delirium or unconsciousness

  • Severe dizziness

  • Breathing difficulty

  • Lower blood pressure

  • High heart rate

Observe your pee color to know your dehydration level

Observe your pee color to know your dehydration level

Causes of dehydration

Dehydration is caused due to 

  • Excessive fluid loss

  • Decreased water intake

  • Increased sweating

  • Abdominal surgery

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Haemorrhage or fistula

  • Diabetes

  • Increased use of laxatives

  • Fever

  • Treatment like hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis

  • Renal failure with polyuria

  • Burns

Mild dehydration

Mild dehydration is caused by fluid loss or diminished fluid intake that leads to a decrease in total body water level.

Moderate dehydration

Moderate dehydration occurs when your body fluid is decreased by 5-10% in infants and 3-6% in children.

Severe dehydration

Severe dehydration is due to extreme heat, illness, not enough water, and medications.

Optimal hydration to severe dehydration

Complications of dehydration

Complications of dehydration are due to severe dehydration or internal diseases like diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, and other kidney diseases like polycystic kidney disease.

Complications of dehydration include- 

  • Brain inflammation

  • Coma

  • Seizures

  • Heart injury

There is a relation between dehydration and internal diseases. Severe dehydration will impact these disease conditions in different ways. Let’s understand the association of dehydration with diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, and other kidney diseases like polycystic kidney disease. 

Diabetes and dehydration

  • Any illness during diabetes mellitus can easily lead to dehydration. Dehydration during diabetes mellitus makes it harder to control blood sugar levels. Diabetes mellitus (hyperglycemia) is a condition where your body is unable to produce enough insulin to convert glucose into glycogen. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas that is controlled by the pituitary gland. 

  • Due to improper functioning of the pituitary gland increased intake of sugar can lead to diabetes mellitus. Increased blood glucose levels will impact kidney function. Your body tries to decrease blood glucose levels by eliminating it through urine. 

  • With increased blood sugar levels, your kidneys increase filtration more than usual to flush the excess sugar through urine. This will increase water elimination from your body leading to dehydration.

  • Excessive thirst is the primary sign of dehydration caused by diabetes. It is necessary for people who experience dehydration due to diabetes to increase water intake to lower the risk of fluctuation in blood glucose levels. You need to increase the number of glasses of water during high temperatures.

How to stay hydrated to overcome dehydration caused by diabetes?

Loss of water or chronic dehydration is dangerous for people with diabetes and also for everyone. Water intake is important for each and every function of your body. The fluid levels in the body help you to stay active and healthy.

How to stay hydrated to overcome dehydration caused by diabetes

Follow these simple steps to stay hydrated during diabetes mellitus:

  • Replace sugary drinks like sweet beverages or soda with plain water or unsweetened tea

  • Keep a large reusable water bottle nearby to remind you to drink

  • Wherever you go carry a small portable water bottle with you

  • Add oral rehydration salts for diabetes with your eight glasses of water daily

  • Use apps that are free on the internet to remind you of drinking water

  • Try using a straw, it helps to hydrate your lips and drink more than usual

  • Always have two glasses of water before meals to make you feel full

  • Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables that contain water like watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, oranges, cauliflower, celery

Home remedies for dehydration

  • Drink more glasses of water to provide enough fluids to promote hydration

  • Take cool water baths or ice baths to let down the body temperature

  • increase intake of fruit juices like orange or watermelon during summer

  • Drink coconut water in the hot climates to get instant energy

Home remedies for dehydration
  •  Take of fluids like lemon juice that are easily made in home to substitute electrolytes 

  • Give buttermilk and oral rehydration salts for diabetes as they does not contain any sugar 

  • Eat bananas as they are rich in water source with 70-80% of water 

  • Prepare barley water or ragi wate, both contains enough vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to restore your body with energy

  • Take salt water daily and avoid alcohol consumption 

5 Different Diabetes and Kidney disease

  • Kidney disease is another common complication that occurs during diabetes. Dehydration during diabetes leads to the formation of kidney stones, urinary tract infections. 

  • High blood glucose levels also called high blood sugar will damage the blood vessels in the kidney due to excessive pressure. The damaged blood vessels do not work properly leading to diabetic kidney disease or kidney failure. 

  • Your urine will change to be dark-colored and you urinate less than usual. Depending on the age, climate, physical activity, gender, diseased state, or special condition like pregnancy you need to change the water intake. 

  • Even the use of certain medications can cause kidney disease during diabetes which becomes more complicated. With increased blood sugar levels and increased blood pressure, there are more chances of developing kidney failure.

To manage this, you need to avoid- 

  • Smoking

  • Salty foods

  • Skipping diabetes diet plan

  • Overeating

  • No exercise day

People with diabetes are more prone to heart diseases and other kidney diseases like polycystic kidney disease. So, the best way is to take more glasses of water, have regular check-ups on blood glucose levels, control blood pressure, healthy lifestyle, and regular medicine consumption.

Never neglect the water intake even if you are not a kidney patient, to avoid its occurrence in the future. Take steps to lower your blood glucose levels with a proper diet and medication. 

1. Diabetic ketoacidosis

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis and high blood glucose levels are acute metabolic complications caused due to diabetes mellitus. This can be resolved by fluid resuscitation, insulin therapy, and oral rehydration salts for diabetes. 

  • The key symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include severe alteration of carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism. The overall body shifts to a catabolic state due to the breakdown of glycogen stores, hydrolysis of triglycerides from adipose tissue, and mobilization of amino acids from muscles. 

  • All these metabolites lead to the formation of glucose and ketone bodies by the liver. The increased blood glucose levels and ketone bodies are the cause of diabetic ketoacidosis.

2. Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia also called diabetes or high blood sugar levels is caused due to three events-  

a) increased gluconeogenesis

 b) increased glycogenolysis 

c) decreased glucose utilization by liver, muscle, and fat

The occurrence of insulinopenia and elevated levels of cortisol will lead to the formation of amino acids due to the shift of protein synthesis to proteolysis. These amino acids serve as substrates in the gluconeogenesis process. 

The high levels of glucagon, catecholamines, and cortisol stimulate gluconeogenic enzymes that cause glucose production. The decreased glucose consumption and increased glucagon levels further lead to increased blood glucose levels in the body.

3. Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome

The hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state is one of the two dangerous complications of diabetes. Even though it is less common, it has a mortality rate of 5-10%. 

The most common symptoms are infection, blood glucose levels reaching 600mg/dL or higher, excessive thirst, increased urination, fever, stroke, or myocardial infarction. 

4. Diabetes insipidus

Diabetes insipidus is a condition where you need to urinate more frequently due to the deficiency of a hormone called vasopressin. Also called antidiuretic hormone, is controlled by the pituitary gland. Patients with diabetes insipidus produce 20 quarts of urine a day.

People with this disorder are called polyuria and as they urinate more and the condition is called polydipsia as they drink lots of water. In this condition, your kidney won’t function properly to concentrate urine leading to excess loss of water.

Signs of mild to moderate dehydration in diabetes insipidus may include-

  • Excessive thirst

  • Dry mouth

  • Dizziness or tiredness

  • Mental disability

  • Nausea

Severe dehydration will lead to seizures, brain damage, or death. 

5. Diabetes thirst

  • Excessive thirst and diabetes mellitus are associated together as dehydration will cause variation in blood sugar levels. When you are suffering from diabetes, your body will increase blood sugar levels due to insufficient insulin production. 

  • To get rid of the excess blood glucose levels your kidney filters the blood so often and produces more urine than usual. This leads to excess loss of water causing severe dehydration. Chronic dehydration will eventually lead to kidney diseases like polycystic kidney disease and kidney failure. 

  • This will make you thirstier during diabetic conditions. To avoid dehydration caused by diabetes mellitus you need to drink more glasses of water or use oral rehydration salts for diabetes. People with diabetes mellitus will get dehydrated easily compared to non-diabetic individuals. 

How to manage diabetic dehydration effectively?

How to manage diabetic dehydration effectively

To manage mild to moderate dehydration during diabetes mellitus, follow the steps below-

  • Drink more- Drink more water when you feel dizzy or exhausted after a task or in the middle of lunch. Dehydration can cause fluctuations in blood glucose levels all of a sudden. 

  • Drink before needed- Drink water or take fluids even though you are not feeling thirsty, it is better to prevent the cause before it occurs.

  • Carry a water bottle- Never neglect to carry a water bottle with you. Small or big based on your time away from the water source try to keep a water container handy.

  • Take fluids in other forms- There is no need to take only water to stay hydrated, you can replace water with other juices or healthy drinks without sugar.

  • Avoid sugar- Reduce sugar from your diet and drinks. Stop drinking canned beverages or soda as they may contain some amount of sugar.

  • Regular test of blood glucose levels- Check the blood sugar levels daily to evaluate the rise in blood glucose levels. So that you can optimize your diet chart.

  • Exercise care- To work out, select a place under the roof. Or exercise under air conditioning or a fan to avoid dehydration caused by sweat.

  • Stay cool- Avoid trips or tours that include travel during warm sun or heat. This will increase the loss of water and cause dehydration in your body.

  • Reduce weight- Overweight will cause many risk factors like diabetes mellitus, dehydration is more in obese people due to excess blood glucose levels, sweat, and heat exhaustion.  

  • Set a reminder- Use apps that remind you to drink when you are busy concentrating on doing work. There are many free apps available that can help you keep track of the number of glasses of water you drink.

  • Emergency kit- An emergency kit with sugar tablets, a blood test machine, medicines should always be with you to avoid complications like kidney failure and heat stroke.

  • Oral rehydration salts for diabetes- Oral rehydration salts for diabetes mellitus are very helpful to give instant energy without increasing blood glucose levels in your body.

  • Medicines- Proper use of medicines for diabetes mellitus will help you to control blood glucose levels and keep the blood sugar levels in check. 

When to consult a doctor?

Your doctor may alter the medications regularly based on your blood sugar levels. So, you may experience changes in your body. Consult your doctor if you have severe symptoms of dehydration, dizziness, weak pulse, reduced blood pressure, and symptoms of diabetic thirst or diabetic ketoacidosis.

Take-home points

  • Drink enough water whether or not you are a diabetic person.

  • Never work hard in sun with no food or water because it may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea leading to dehydration.

  • Always keep a sugar candy or sweet for immediate to improve sudden glucose drop in blood.

  • Wear a garment or sign that indicates your diabetes condition to people.

  • Inform your doctor even the slightest change in energy or tiredness you face.

  • If you ever need to go away from home try to carry a portable water bottle.

  • Start to say no to any kind of beverage offering as it contains sugar.

  • Avoid going into the hot sun in any case.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking more glasses of water or healthy juices.

  • Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly to keep in control.

  • Have sound sleep and meditate to get rid of stress and mental depression.

  • Exercise only in a cool place or under the roof, not outdoors, and never in a hot climate.

  • Consult a doctor if you feel dehydrated and pee less often.


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