Symptoms and effects of post-meal hyperglycaemia

Post-meal hyperglycaemia (when blood glucose levels are typically above 11.0 mmol/L (200 mg/dl) 2 hours after meals) can cause unpleasant short-term and long-term physical and emotional symptoms for people with diabetes.

Patients might report the following symptoms (that occur 1-2 hours after eating):

  • Feeling thirsty, experiencing dry-mouth
  • Experiencing headaches
  • Needing to pee frequently
  • Blurred vision
  • Reduced energy levels or sleepiness
  • Recurrent infections, such as thrush, bladder infections (cystitis) and skin infections

Studies have also shown that emotional symptoms and impact of daily life have been reported, including:

  • Feeling unsociable and irritable
  • Slowing of mental performance and difficulty making decisions
  • Ability to drive and work

When discussing mealtime management of blood glucose, it is useful to inform patients of the potential long-term health issues associated with blood glucose levels staying high for extended periods, to reinforce the importance of good blood glucose management around mealtimes.  It's important to explain that consistently high blood glucose levels after meals can lead to high HbA1c levels.  Over the long-term, these high HbA1c levels can increase the risk of developing the following complications:

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Increased risk of damage to eyes
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Increased risk of death
  • Impaired cognitive function (in people with type 2 diabetes)
  • Increased risk of kidney disease
  • Increased risk of amputation



To manage blood glucose levels after eating, use of a rapid-acting insulin analogue at mealtimes (also known as a mealtime or bolus insulin) can be used.  The aim of such treatment is to mimic the release and response of insulin from a healthy pancreas, to quickly control blood glucose levels after meals and avoid post-meal hyperglycaemia.




This page is intended for UK healthcare professionals only

UK/WB/0616/0033  September 2016

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