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How Can I Tell If I Have Low Blood Sugar

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Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Glucose

Low Blood Sugar

Each persons reaction to low blood glucose is different. Learn your own signs and symptoms of when your blood glucose is low. Taking time to write these symptoms down may help you learn your own symptoms of when your blood glucose is low. From milder, more common indicators to most severe, signs and symptoms of low blood glucose include:

  • Tingling or numbness in the lips, tongue, or cheeks
  • Nightmares or crying out during sleep

The only sure way to know whether you are experiencing low blood glucose is to check your blood glucose levels, if possible. If you are experiencing symptoms and you are unable to check your blood glucose for any reason, treat the hypoglycemia.

A low blood glucose level triggers the release of epinephrine , the fight-or-flight hormone. Epinephrine is what can cause the symptoms of hypoglycemia such as thumping heart, sweating, tingling, and anxiety.

If the blood sugar glucose continues to drop, the brain does not get enough glucose and stops functioning as it should. This can lead to blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, confused thinking, slurred speech, numbness, and drowsiness. If blood glucose stays low for too long, starving the brain of glucose, it may lead to seizures, coma, and very rarely death.

Which Hormones Regulate Blood Sugar

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What Are The Treatments For Hypoglycemia

Make an appointment with an endocrinologist if you feel like youre having episodes of hypoglycemia, even if youre not diabetic. Theyll talk you through treatment strategies, including:

  • Adjusting your medications. You may need to change how often you take insulin or other medications, which medications youre on, how much you take, and when you take them.

  • Working with a registered dietitian on a personalized meal plan that stabilizes blood sugar levels. Theres no one-size-fits-all hypoglycemia diet, but a nutritionist can help you figure out a consistent meal plan tailored to you, and teach you how to count carbohydrate grams to go along with your health and routine.

  • Increasing and improving self-monitoring of your blood glucose levels. Knowing your blood glucose level throughout the daywhen you get up, before meals, and after meals etc.can help you keep it from getting too low.

  • Limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol interferes with the way your body metabolizes glucose. If you’re prone to hypoglycemia, consider decreasing how much alcohol you consume.

  • Glucose tablets . Make sure you always have glucose tablets on hand, whether at home, school, the office, or the gym. After taking the tablet, check your blood sugar. If its still low, take another tablet. If that doesnt help, check with your doctor.

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Low Blood Sugar: Warning Signs Ways To Treat And When To Call The Doctor

Physicians explain how to tell when your blood sugar is dangerously low, and how to take action to prevent complications.

KJ Callihan

KJ Callihan is a freelance writer with a background in mental health and education. Her writing often covers product reviews and lists, animals and pet care, food and hospitality, health, wellness, and culture. When she isn’t crafting the perfect sentence, you may find her bingeing true crime documentaries, browsing mid-Michigan farmer’s markets, and tasting her son’s latest homemade cuisine

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 34 million people living in the United States had diabetes in 2018 — and amazingly, 21% of adults with diabetes did not even know they had it. The scariest part is that, if left untreated, diabetes can be deadly. In fact, it was the seventh leading cause of death in the year 2017.

And while normally associated with high blood sugar , diabetic folks can also experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, alongside its own bevy of problems — including more severe and/or long-term effects like seizures, loss of consciousness, dementia and even death. Further, according to the Mayo Clinic, hypoglycemia can also cause low blood sugar in folks without diabetes due to a variety of conditions and medications.

How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy

Symptoms Of Low And High Blood Sugar

Follow these steps:

  • Put the person in the recovery position and do not put anything in their mouth so they do not choke.
  • If an injection of glucagon is available and you know how to use it, give it to them immediately.
  • If they wake up within 10 minutes of getting the injection and feel better, move on to step 5. If they do not improve within 10 minutes, call 999 for an ambulance.
  • If they’re fully awake and able to eat and drink safely, give them a carbohydrate snack.
  • They may need to go to hospital if they’re being sick , or their blood sugar level drops again.

    Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to lose consciousness.

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    What Ways Can You Regulate Blood Sugar

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    Exercise Food And Alcohol

    For people with type 1 diabetes, maintaining the correct blood glucose level involves balancing how much insulin you inject, the amount of food you eat, and how much energy you burn during exercise.

    Hypoglycaemia may occur if you’ve taken your dose of insulin as usual, but your carbohydrate intake is lower than normal or has been used up more quickly. This may happen if you delay or miss a meal or snack, don’t eat enough carbohydrate, or exercise more than usual.

    People with diabetes who’ve drunk too much alcohol, or drank alcohol on an empty stomach, can also get hypoglycaemia.

    However, it’s not always possible to identify why a particular episode of hypoglycaemia has occurred, and sometimes it happens for no obvious reason.

    Also Check: How To Treat Low Blood Sugar

    Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar

    How you react to low blood sugar may not be the same as how someone else with low blood sugar reacts. Its important to know your signs. Common symptoms may include:

    If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.

    You may not have any symptoms when your blood sugar is low . If you dont have symptoms, it will be harder to treat your low blood sugar early. This increases your risk of having severe lows and can be dangerous. This is more likely to happen if you:

    • Have had diabetes for more than 5-10 years.
    • Frequently have low blood sugar.
    • Take certain medicines, such as beta blockers for high blood pressure.

    If you meet one or more of the above and you have hypoglycemia unawareness, you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low. This is very important to do before driving or being physically active.

    What Extreme Conditions Can Occur If Hypoglycemia Is Left Untreated

    What Is a Low Blood Sugar and What Can You Do About It

    Although severe episodes which can trigger potentially life-threatening comas are rare, they require immediate emergency room care, so its best to make sure you are tracking your blood sugar so that you never have to worry about getting to that point. A drop in blood sugar means less fuel for your brain, so its critical for your body to receive enough glucose. Hypoglycemia that leads to extended, reduced brain function is the biggest concern, as this can lead to seizures and loss of basic bodily functions controlled by the brain, which can ultimately lead to death, explains Dr. Dyer.

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    After You Have Low Blood Sugar

    If your low blood sugar was mild , you can return to your normal activities once your blood sugar is back in its target range.

    After you have low blood sugar, your early symptoms for low blood sugar are less noticeable for 48 to 72 hours. Be sure to check your blood sugar more often to keep it from getting too low again, especially before eating, physical activity, or driving a car.

    If you used glucagon because of a severe low , immediately call your doctor for emergency medical treatment. If you have had lows several times close together , you should also tell you doctor. They may want to change your diabetes plan.

    What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar

    Different people may feel low blood sugar levels differently. People with low blood sugar may:

    • feel hungry or have “hunger pains” in their stomach
    • feel shaky or like they’re trembling
    • have a rapid heart rate
    • feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
    • have pale, gray skin color
    • have a headache
    • have seizures or convulsions
    • lose consciousness

    If you have diabetes, try to remember how your body reacts when your blood sugar levels are low. It may help you figure out when you’re having a low blood sugar level more quickly the next time.

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    What Other Meds To Try For Type 2 Diabetes

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    Remind Yourself: I Am In Control Of How Much Food I Eat To Treat My Lows


    Binge-eating during low blood sugars is very common, but it can be a very destructive habit. The binge leads to a super spike in your blood sugar, which leads to guilt and shame and a rage bolus of insulin to bring it back down. And then that can lead to another low!

    Is this a common issue for you? Ask yourself: is the way I treat my low blood sugars healthy or harmful to my overall well-being?

    Heres a simple look at the binge-eating cycle around low blood sugars from my book, Emotional Eating with Diabetes:

    Low blood sugars are a real pain. For those of us taking insulin and other meds that lower blood sugar levels , theyre also an inevitable part of diabetes management.

    The best we can do is pinpoint areas to make adjustments to prevent them, and always, always, always have fast-acting carbohydrates nearby to treat lows when they happen.

    If you found this guide to the symptoms of low blood sugar useful, please sign up for our newsletter in the form below. We send out a weekly newsletter with the latest posts and recipes from Diabetes Strong.

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    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia

    Hypoglycemia tends to present as a cluster of symptoms, and they often occur together. The most common signs of dangerously low blood sugar include:

    • Dizziness, disorientation, light-headedness, and an inability to think clearly

    • Hunger, especially if youve just eaten

    • Heightened irritability, confusion, and anxiety

    • Clamminess and sweating, with cold hands and feet

    • Drastic mood swings

    If you have one or more of these symptoms contact your doctor.

    What Are The Treatment Options For Hypoglycemia

    Children with hypoglycemia have different symptoms, and these vary from one child to another. But no matter what your childs symptoms, the overriding goal is the same to bring the blood sugar back up to normal as rapidly as possible and return your child to good health.

    Most often, your childs blood sugar can be brought back up to normal by eating or drinking something that has sugar in it, such as fruit juice, regular soda, table sugar, maple syrup, candy, glucose tablets, glucose gel, or cake frosting. Consider encouraging your child to:

    • eat regular meals throughout the day
    • eat frequent snacks

    For children with diabetes, the goal is to consistently maintain a blood sugar level that is in a healthy range. This involves testing blood sugar often, learning to recognize the earliest symptoms of low blood sugar, and treating the condition quickly, based on instructions given by your child’s healthcare providers.

    If your child has recurrent or severe hypoglycemia, the first thing is to determine the cause, because different causes have different treatments. While the cause is determined, some children will receive glucose intravenously in the hospital to make sure their blood-sugar level stays normal.

    Some causes of hypoglycemia can be treated with changes in your childs diet or medication. For some rare cases of severe hypoglycemia that dont respond to medical treatment, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove most of the pancreas.

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    Causes Of Low Blood Sugar

    There are many reasons why you may have low blood sugar, including:

    • Taking too much insulin.
    • Not eating enough carbs for how much insulin you take.
    • Timing of when you take your insulin.
    • The amount and timing of physical activity.
    • Drinking alcohol.
    • How much fat, protein, and fiber are in your meal.
    • Hot and humid weather.
    • Unexpected changes in your schedule.
    • Spending time at a high altitude.
    • Going through puberty.

    Exercising Without Adjusting Insulin Doses And Carbs

    LOW blood SUGAR in Diabetics (hypoglycemia). Everything you NEED to know!

    Going for a walk after lunch, for example, can cause a severe low blood sugar if you took your full dose of insulin for your lunch. The addition of the walk increases the rate at which your body is burning up the glucose from the meal you ate, causing a low blood sugar.

    TIP: Learn, learn, learn, and study, study, study how the body reacts to different types of exercise in Christel Oerums Fit with Diabetes guide, or Sheri Colbergs Diabetic Athletes Handbook.

    Read Also: How To Tell When Your Blood Sugar Is High

    What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar

    There are several telltale signs that your blood sugar has dropped below a safe level. The American Diabetes Association lists the following as symptoms of low blood sugar:

    • Color draining from the skin
    • Feeling weak or having no energy
    • Blurred/impaired vision
    • Tingling or numbness in the lips, tongue, or cheeks
    • Nightmares or crying out during sleep

    You may experience other symptoms beyond this list. For example, in my body, if Im walking on a treadmill and my blood sugar is low, my thighs start to feel numb and tingly.

    Everyone has their own classic symptoms of low blood sugar figure out which symptoms you feel the soonest so you can catch lows sooner than later!

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