Difference Between Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia

Main Difference – Hyperglycemia vs Hypoglycemia

Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia are two medical conditions occurring due to the depleted and excessive amounts of insulin secretion, respectively. Thus, the main difference between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia is that hyperglycemia is caused by an excess of glucose in the bloodstream whereas hypoglycemia is caused by the deficiency of glucose in the bloodstream.

Maintaining blood glucose levels in the body is a vital function which should be carried out with an optimal regulation. Individuals who are diagnosed with Diabetes should be extra cautious in maintaining a healthy diet, physical exercises, adequate weight, and drug or insulin therapy in order to avoid possible complications such as Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia.

This article covers, 

1. What is Hyperglycemia?
     – Definition, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, and Treatment

2. What is Hypoglycemia?
     – Definition, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, and Treatment

3. What is the difference between Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia?

Difference Between Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia - Comparison Summary

What is Hyperglycemia

Being a condition which can affect individuals with both type 1 and type 2 Diabetes, hyperglycemia is categorized into two groups, based on the measurement of blood glucose in the body.

  • Fasting hyperglycemia – A concentration of blood glucose-130 mg/dL or more after fasting (fluids and food) for at least 8 hours.
  • Postprandial or after-meal hyperglycemia – Blood glucose level higher than 180 mg/dL when checked 2 hours after eating.

Some healthy people without diabetes can have blood sugar levels over 140 mg/dL following meals, but this is not something to worry about.

However, frequent hyperglycemic attacks in those with type 1 diabetes can lead to a condition known as ketoacidosis, which is a medical emergency. On the other hand, individuals with type 2 diabetes can end up having Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS), which is characterized by frequent urination, gradually decreasing yet causing severe dehydration.


  • Non-compliant insulin injections or oral glucose-lowering medicine
  • Too much carbohydrates for the amount of insulin, taken
  • Infections
  • Stress
  • Physical inactivity
  • Strenuous physical activity

Signs and Symptoms

  • Polydipsia
  • Polyuria
  • Headaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight loss
  • Blood sugar more than 180 mg/dL


  • Those who have been diagnosed with Diabetes should be aware of signs suggestive of hyperglycemia; these will need immediate medical attention.
  • Drink more water to stay hydrated
  • Stay active
  • Get advice from a dietician in order to maintain a balanced diet.
  • Switch Diabetic medications according to the latest requirements.
    Main Difference - Hyperglycemia vs Hypoglycemia

    White hexagons in the image represent glucose molecules, which are increased in the lower image.

What is Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, is defined as a blood sugar level drop less than 70mg/dl. Most of the drugs used for hyperglycemia can result in reduced blood glucose levels. Commonest examples include Sulfonylureas and Meglitinides.


  • Drugs used for hyperglycemia

Other causes include,

  • Lack of sufficient carbohydrate diet
  • Skipping or delayed meals
  • Increased physical activity
  • Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol without intake of food.

Signs and Symptoms

Features of this condition can vary from one person to another, but most will present with,

  • Shaky or jitteriness
  • Polyphagia
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation

If severe,

  • Inability to eat and drink due to vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Unconsciousness, coma


Once the diagnosis is confirmed in a clinically suspected individual, it is important to eat or drink 15 grams of carbohydrates right away which can be ingested in the form of,

  • 4 glucose tablets or one tube of glucose gel
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of fruit juice (not low-calorie or reduced sugar)

Difference Between Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia

Difference Between Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia


As the definitions themselves suggest,

Hyperglycemia occurs due to an increased level of fasting blood glucose or post-prandial blood glucose usually in patients diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 Diabetes.

Hypoglycemia means a blood glucose level less than 70mg/dl.


Hyperglycemia – as far as the etiology for hyperglycemia is concerned acute stressful conditions and infections play major roles. Other than that, non-compliance of anti-glycemic agents can also result in increased blood glucose levels beyond limits.

Hypoglycemia – the commonest reason for hypoglycemia is an excessive intake of anti-glycemic agents beyond the prescribed dose, especially following Sulphonylureas and Meglitinides. Poor carbohydrate intake and strenuous exercises can also result in these attacks.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms associated with both these conditions are quite similar to each other, but the patients with hypoglycemia can even end up in death due to poor glucose supply to the brain.


Commonest complication with Hyperglycemia includes Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome.

The commonest complication with hypoglycemia is Diabetic ketoacidosis.

Image Courtesy:

“Hyperglycemia” By Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. – Own work (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“528678” (Public Domain) via Pixbay 

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music