How Can I Be Better Prepared For Hypoglycemia
You can take some steps to be ready for hypoglycemia:
- Be aware of the symptoms and treat them early.
- Carry some fast-acting carbs with you all the time.
- Check your glucose levels frequently, especially around meals and exercise.
- Inform family, friends and co-workers so they know what do if you need help.
- Talk to your healthcare provider regularly to make and update your plan.
- Wear a medical bracelet that lets people know you have diabetes. Carry a card in your purse or wallet with instructions for hypoglycemia.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hypoglycemia is quite common in people with diabetes. If not treated, it can cause troubling symptoms, and even serious health problems. Fortunately, you can avoid hypoglycemic episodes by monitoring your blood sugar. You can also make small adjustments to eating and exercising routines.
How To Deal With Low Blood Sugar
In this article:
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, happens when the glucose level in the blood falls below the normal range.
Given that glucose is your bodys primary source of energy, this condition can make you run out of steam and can give rise to a range of discomforting symptoms. Thus, you have to take measures to pump up your dwindling blood sugar back within the normal range in order to feel normal again.
If left untreated, your blood sugar level can fall further, which could induce serious complications such as loss of consciousness and seizures. Plus, a severely low blood sugar level poses a risk to your life if not treated immediately.
For those taking insulin, a low blood sugar level is considered to be less than 70 mg/dL. For those who are not diabetic and/or dont take insulin, blood sugar levels typically need to fall below 60 mg/dL before they would experience symptoms.
The Dangers Of Low Blood Glucose
At some time, most people with diabetes experience the sweating and shakiness that occurs when blood glucose levels fall below 70 mg/dl a condition known as hypoglycemia. The average person with type 1 diabetes may experience symptoms of low blood glucose up to two times a week. However, not all are aware that these symptoms can rapidly progress to seizures, coma and even death if hypoglycemia is severe. Though hypoglycemia can be common and occur repeatedly in some people with diabetes, symptoms of low blood glucose should always be taken seriously. People with diabetes and their families, friends or coworkers should be prepared to act quickly and responsibly at the earliest signs of low blood glucose.
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Nighttime Low Blood Sugars
You may experience a low blood sugar night. The low blood sugar might wake you up and your symptoms might be similar to those you have during the day. However, the symptoms may be different. You might have nightmares, sleep poorly, perspire, or feel hot and cold. In the morning you may have a headache, feel nauseated, or feel confused. Notify your doctor if this happens. Check your blood sugar at the time you have the symptoms.
Treatment for a low blood sugar that occurs at night is the same as described earlier.
Your doctor may request that you check a 3:00 a.m. blood sugar 1 to 2 times per week in order to detect any low blood sugars during the night.
Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.
How Do I Treat Low Blood Glucose
If you begin to feel one or more symptoms of low blood glucose, check your blood glucose level. If your blood glucose level is below your target or less than 70 mg/dL, follow these steps
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Treating Someone Having A Seizure
Follow these steps if someone has a seizure due to low blood sugar:
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to have a seizure.
What Is Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose, also called low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops below what is healthy for you. For many people with diabetes, this means a blood glucose reading lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter .1 Your number might be different, so check with your doctor or health care team to find out what blood glucose level is low for you.
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Preventing A Low Blood Sugar Level
If you have diabetes, you can reduce your chance of getting a low blood sugar level if you:
- Check your blood sugar level regularly and be aware of the symptoms of a low blood sugar level so you can treat it quickly.
- Always carry a sugary snack or drink with you, such as glucose tablets, a carton of fruit juice or some sweets. If you have a glucagon injection kit, always keep it with you.
- Do not skip meals.
- Be careful when drinking alcohol. Do not drink large amounts, check your blood sugar level regularly, and eat a carbohydrate snack afterwards.
- Be careful when exercising eating a carbohydrate snack before exercise can help to reduce the risk of a hypo. If you take some types of diabetes medicine, your doctor may recommend you take a lower dose before or after doing intense exercise.
- Have a carbohydrate snack, such as toast, if your blood sugar level drops too low while you’re asleep
If you keep getting a low blood sugar level, talk to your diabetes care team about things you can do to help prevent it.
What Causes Low Blood Glucose In People With Diabetes
Low blood glucose levels can be a side effect of insulin or some other medicines that help your pancreas release insulin into your blood. Taking these can lower your blood glucose level.
Two types of diabetes pills can cause low blood glucose
- sulfonylureas, usually taken once or twice per day, which increase insulin over several hours
- meglitinides, taken before meals to promote a short-term increase in insulin
The following may also lower your blood glucose level
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What Can Cause Low Blood Sugar Levels
Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely are:
- skipping meals and snacks
- not eating enough food during a meal or snack
- exercising longer or harder than usual without eating some extra food
- getting too much insulin
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
Also, some things may increase how quickly insulin gets absorbed into the bloodstream and can make hypoglycemia more likely. These include:
- taking a hot shower or bath right after having an insulin injection increases blood flow through the blood vessels in the skin, which can make the insulin be absorbed more quickly than usual
- injecting the shot into a muscle instead of the fatty layer under the skin
- injecting the insulin into a part of the body used a lot in a particular sport .
All of these situations increase the chances that a person may get hypoglycemia.
How Can I Prevent Low Blood Glucose
All people with diabetes:
- If you experience low blood glucose often, ask your doctor if setting a higher goal for your A1C level may be appropriate.
- Ask your doctor to look at the test results from your home blood glucose monitor. These results reveal how often you have low blood glucose and when these episodes occur. Your doctor will look for patterns to see if low glucose happens after exercise or at certain times of day, for example.
- If you’ve had low blood glucose in the past, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet so that others will know that you have diabetes in the event of an emergency.
- Keep a fast-acting carbohydrate in your bag, desk drawer, car and other places for easy access. Good options include hard candy, fruit juice or glucose paste or tablets, which can be purchased at most pharmacies.
- Ask your doctor for an emergency glucagon kit. This kit contains a fast- acting medication that can be injected in case of loss of consciousness because of low blood glucose. Keep one kit at home and one at work or school.
- Monitor your blood glucose regularly so that low levels can be corrected before symptoms progress.
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How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy
Follow these steps:
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.
Low Blood Sugar Levels In Diabetes
People with diabetes can have low blood sugar levels because of the medicines they have to take to manage their diabetes. They may need a hormone called or diabetes pills to help their bodies use the sugar in their blood.
These medicines help take the sugar out of the blood and get it into the body’s cells, which makes the blood sugar level go down. But sometimes it’s a tricky balancing act and blood sugar levels can get too low.
People with diabetes need to keep their blood sugars from getting too highor too low. Keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range means balancing when and what they eat, and when they exercise with when they take medicines.
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What Causes Hypoglycemia
The vast majority of episodes of hypoglycemia in children and adolescents occur when a child with diabetes takes too much insulin, eats too little, or exercises strenuously or for a prolonged period of time.
For young children who do not have diabetes, hypoglycemia may be caused by:
- stomach flu or another illness that may cause them to not eat enough
- fasting for a prolonged period of time
- prolonged strenuous exercise and lack of food
- accelerated starvation, also known as ketotic hypoglycemia, a tendency for children without diabetes, or any other known cause of hypoglycemia, to experience repeated hypoglycemic episodes
- medications your child may be taking
- a congenital error in metabolism or unusual disorder such as hypopituitarism or hyperinsulinism
High Blood Sugar Causes
Sometimes the cause of a blood sugar spike is clear . But other times, the cause is a little more mysterious.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing sleep, skipping breakfast, not drinking enough water, or drinking coffee can cause blood sugar instability.
Even weirder, sometimes a sunburn can cause a spike! The pain of a burn causes stress, and high levels of stress can mess up your blood sugar. So bust out the sunscreen for the sake of your pancreas!
Other causes include eating high-sugar/high-carb foods, drinking alcohol, getting sick, and changing medication. A diet low in fiber and high in refined carbs or sugars and a sedentary lifestyle also make high blood sugar more likely.
So, what can you do when your blood sugar gets too high? Here are some natural ways to get your sugar back into a safe zone.
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What Causes Reactive Hypoglycemia
Reactive hypoglycemia comes from having too much insulin in your blood. It usually happens within a few hours after you eat. Other possible causes include:
- Having prediabetes or being more likely to have diabetes
For People With Diabetes
Check your blood sugar when you start to experience symptoms. If it’s below 70 milligrams per deciliter, eat 15 to 30 grams of fast-absorbing carbohydrates. Wait 15 minutes, then recheck your blood glucose level.
If your reading is below 100 milligrams per deciliter, eat another 15 grams of quick-absorbing carbohydrates. After waiting another 15 minutes, recheck to see if it’s within the target range your doctor outlined for you. Repeat these steps if necessary.
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Cause Of Low Blood Sugar
Some common causes of low blood sugar levels include:
- When some people, even those who are not diabetic, eat very high carbohydrate, low-protein, low-fat meals or snacks , the high-carbohydrate foods enter the bloodstream very quickly and stimulate the pancreas to make a lot of insulin. All that insulin causes the blood sugar level to fall quickly and it can actually fall below the normal range and cause symptoms. This is called postprandial hypoglycemia.
- When diabetics take insulin, they can take more insulin than is needed, and this will cause a low blood sugar level.
- Rarely, nondiabetics can have an insulin-producing tumor in their pancreas that causes frequent low blood sugar levels.
- Other causes of hypoglycemia include: starving the body for prolonged periods by skipping or delaying meals, sudden and dramatic increase in physical activity , or excessive alcohol intake on an empty stomach.
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.
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Research And Statistics: How Common Is Hypoglycemia
Because hypoglycemia is largely a symptom of an underlying condition, its unclear exactly how common it is in the United States. However, heres what we do know:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , 34.2 million people in the United States have diabetes. This is roughly 10.5 percent of the population, and the majority of these cases are type 2 diabetes.
- In the type 2 diabetes sphere, elderly adults are at highest risk for hypoglycemia unawareness. Previous research reported in Diabetes Care found that only 1 in 13 older adults with type 2 diabetes were able to correctly identify their symptoms.
- According to CDC data, 235,000 people with diabetes were admitted to the emergency room in 2016 due to hypoglycemia.
- Overall, the CDC estimates that 57,000 people with diabetes were hospitalized for hypoglycemia.
- Insulin excess is responsible for between 4 and 10 percent of deaths in patients with type 1 diabetes, according to past research published in Diabetes Care.
- A previous study identified a higher rate of hypoglycemia-related hospital visits in African American men with type 2 diabetes.
How To Prevent Low Blood Sugar
This article was co-authored by Erik Kramer, DO, MPH. Dr. Erik Kramer is a Primary Care Physician at the University of Colorado, specializing in internal medicine, diabetes, and weight management. He received his Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2012. Dr. Kramer is a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine and is board certified.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 100,435 times.
Hypoglycemia, commonly referred to as “low blood sugar,” occurs when the amount of glucose in the blood falls below normal levels. Glucose is an important source of energy for the body. When your blood sugar level is too low, your brain cells and muscles do not have enough energy to function properly. Hypoglycemia can occur as a consequence of diabetes or as a reaction to a specific food eaten . It often results from a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. It can usually be treated quickly by eating a small amount of food containing glucose as soon as possible. Left untreated, hypoglycemia can cause confusion, headaches, fainting, and in more severe cases, seizures, coma, and even death.
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