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.
Causes Not Related To Diabetes
According to the Endocrine Society, non-diabetes-related hypoglycemia is rare but can occur. There are two types:
- fasting hypoglycemia, often associated with an underlying condition
- reactive hypoglycemia, which occurs within a few hours of a meal
Causes of fasting hypoglycemia may include:
- binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption
- liver, heart, or kidney disease
- tumors that affect the pancreas
- low hormone levels
- certain medications, such as salicylates or sulfa
Causes of reactive hypoglycemia include:
- a person with prediabetes
- enzyme deficiency
- stomach surgery
Doctors are still not clear about what exactly causes reactive hypoglycemia. However, they know people with this condition tend to have excessive insulin in their blood.
What Low Blood Sugar Feels Like
Have you seen the video going viral on Facebook right now where four amazing women with type 1 diabetes talk about what low blood sugar feels like?
I love this video, and it inspired me to think about what a low blood sugar feels like for me and to put it into words in this post. I think this is particularly useful for friends and family who may not know or understand what its like.
Please watch the video and consider sharing this post with your loved ones if you feel that it helps explain how you feel when your blood sugar is low.
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How Do You Treat Hypoglycemia
Low blood sugar levels happen when theres too little glucose left in the bloodstream to continue supplying fuel to your organs, muscles, and tissues. It most often occurs when you dont eat enough food, especially carb-containing foods, given your blood-sugar-lowering medications and physical activity levels, ONeill says. Levels can decrease gradually or suddenly.
When the amount of glucose in the bloodstream drops to too-low levels, the body reacts by releasing epinephrine, also called adrenaline or the fight or flight hormone. Epinephrine revs your heart rate and can cause sweating, shaking, anxiety, and irritability. If not enough glucose is able to reach the brain, the result may be difficulty concentrating, confused thinking, and slurred speech. In extreme cases, a lack of glucose within the brain can lead to seizures, coma, and even death, she says.
People with low glucose levels can use the ADAs 15-15 Rule, which advises people consume 15 g of carbs, wait 15 minutes, and check their levels again. If the number is still low, repeat until reaching at least 70 mg/dL.
You can find 15 g of carbs in:
- 1 slice of bread
- 1 small piece of fresh fruit
- cup of yogurt
- Three to four hard candies
- Glucose tablets as indicated on the label
- Glucose gel as indicated on the label
Once your glucose levels are back to normal, the ADA suggests going ahead and eating your next scheduled meal or snack, which will help prevent levels from dropping again.
Faq: Frequently Asked Questions
Who is most at risk for hypoglycemia? Aside from diabetics, Dr. Jennifer Shine Dyer notes that children are more prone toexperience episodes of hypoglycemia because of their smaller body size, as well as having less fat to burn to maintain energy when glucose levels are low. Eating meals every 4 to 6 hours should maintain glucose levels if this is the only cause of hypoglycemia, she says.
How do I know it’s low blood sugar? To know if you’re suffering from hypoglycemia, you’ll need to begin tracking your glucose levels under the supervision of your doctor. Drugstores and pharmacies carry test strips, as well as glucose meters, which will help. You can even see the effect that different foods have on your body by checking your blood sugar after eating.
Does fasting affect my blood sugar levels? Yes, going without food can trigger hypoglycemia. If you have diabetes and are concerned about hypoglycemia, aim to eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks that are low in processed sugars every three hours or so.
Does alcohol consumption trigger low blood sugar?Excessive alcohol consumption, defined as more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men, especially with little food, can keep your liver from releasing glucose, which can lead to hypoglycemia.
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Why Is It Important To Recognize A Low Blood Sugar Level
Low blood sugar levels can happen with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Low levels are more likely to happen if you use insulin. Hypoglycemia can cause you to have falls, accidents, and injuries. A blood sugar level that gets too low can lead to seizures, coma, and death. Learn to recognize the symptoms early so you can get treatment quickly.
Why Is Balanced Blood Sugar Important
Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main source of energy for your body. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Once your food is broken down in the stomach, the sugars and starches are turned into glucose, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Your blood carries the glucose to all of your cells to give them energy.
When your blood sugar levels are balanced, your body is able to work as it should. Your moods will be more balanced, and you may have more energy.
When it is out of balance for extended lengths of time, you may be diagnosed with diabetes. If you do not manage your diabetes properly, it may put you at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, slow healing wounds, and nerve damage.
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How Do You Feel When Your Blood Sugar Is Too High
Here are some of the complaints that you may feel when your blood sugar is too high,
- Headache and body aches
- Loss of consciousness, coma or a seizure
- Difficulty in concentration
These symptoms can go on for a while till some food containing sugar is given. If this continues for long without any intake of sugar or any carbs, the condition can worsen and the blood sugar levels may further drop down, leading to complications. Very low blood sugar level can be a medical emergency too, which is why it is very important to be aware of the symptoms coming up because without an immediate treatment the patient can faint, may experience a seizure, or can even go into a coma.
Both the high and the low blood sugar level can lead to an emergency, and therefore knowledge of how do you feel when your blood sugar is too high or low is very necessary. Early you come up with a solution faster the condition can be eased and the complication can be avoided.
What Causes Hyperglycemia
Your diet may cause you to have high blood sugar levels, particularly if you have diabetes. Carbohydrate-heavy foods such as breads, rice, and pasta can raise your blood sugar. Your body breaks these foods down into sugar molecules during digestion. One of these molecules is glucose, an energy source for your body.
After you eat, glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream. The glucose cant be absorbed without the help of the hormone insulin. If your body is unable to produce enough insulin or is resistant to its effects, glucose can build up in your bloodstream and cause hyperglycemia.
Hyperglycemia can also be triggered by a change in your hormone levels. This commonly happens when youre under a lot of stress or when youre feeling ill.
Hyperglycemia can affect people regardless of whether they have diabetes. You may be at risk of hyperglycemia if you:
- lead a sedentary or inactive lifestyle
- have a chronic or severe illness
- are under emotional distress
- use certain medications, such as steroids
- have had a recent surgery
If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels may spike if you:
- dont follow your diabetes eating plan
- dont use your insulin correctly
- dont take your medications correctly
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Why Am I Having Lows
If you are experiencing low blood sugar and youre not sure why, bring a record of blood sugar, insulin, exercise and food data to a health care provider. Together, you can review all your data to figure out the cause of the lows.
The more information you can give your health care provider, the better they can work with you to understand what’s causing the lows. Your provider may be able to help prevent low blood sugar by adjusting the timing of insulin dosing, exercise and meals or snacks. Changing insulin doses or the types of food you eat may also do the trick.
Treating Low Blood Sugar
You are at risk of having a low blood sugar reaction if you:
- Skip or delay a meal or snack
- Take too much insulin or eat too few carbohydrates
- Drink alcohol, especially without eating carbohydrates
Check your blood sugar if you have any of these symptoms:
- Weakness and/or fatigue
If your blood sugar is less than 70 milligrams per deciliter :
- Eat 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate
- Wait 15 minutes and then recheck your blood sugar
- If your blood sugar is still less than 100 mg/dl, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate and retest your blood sugar in another 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
Important: If you have frequent low blood sugars speak to your doctor. You may need changes in your medication and/or meal plan.
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Treating An Episode Of Hypoglycaemia
The immediate treatment for hypoglycaemia is to have some sugary food or drink to end the attack.
For example, this could be:
- a glass of fruit juice or non-diet soft drink
- between three and five dextrose tablets
- a handful of sweets
At first you should avoid fatty foods and drinks, such as chocolate and milk, because they don’t usually contain as much sugar and the sugar they do contain may be absorbed more slowly.
After having something sugary, you should have a longer-acting carbohydrate food, such as a few biscuits, a cereal bar, a piece of fruit or a sandwich.
It will usually take around 15 minutes to recover from a mild episode of hypoglycaemia. If you have a blood glucose meter, measure your blood sugar again after 15 to 20 minutes. If it’s still too low , you should have some more sugary food or a drink before testing your levels again in another 15 to 20 minutes.
When treating someone else with hypoglycaemia, if the above treatment isn’t effective, you may be able to help them by applying glucose gel to the inside of their cheeks, and gently massaging the outside of their cheeks.
It may take 10 to 15 minutes before they feel better. This shouldn’t be done if the person is drowsy or unconscious because of the risk of choking.
What If Im Experiencing Hypoglycemic Episodes Even Though My Doctor Has Confirmed That Im Not Diabetic Or Prediabetic
If you have low blood sugar and dont have diabetes or prediabetes, it can be a sign of another serious health issue such as a tumor, hormone deficiency, kidney disorder, anorexia, or other eating disorder, all of which can cause dangerously low blood sugar.
Anorexia has the highest mortality of any psychiatric disorder, and the cause of death can be hypoglycemia, so take your illness seriously and seek help if you suspect your eating disorder may be progressing to the point where it is causing you to faint or experience other signs and symptoms of dangerously low blood sugar. The National Eating Disorders Association has resources on how to identify the signs that you may have an eating disorder, a hotline for help, as well as easily accessible information on everything from how to know when you need help to how to find quality treatment options in your zip code.
People who are not diabetic don’t spontaneously have hypoglycemia for no reason, explains Dr. Christofides. Its often an indication of another underlying issue, such as a hormone deficiency or eating disorder, so its important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause in order to prevent complications.
Common causes of hypoglycemia in people without diabetes include:
- Pancreatic tumor
- Medication that inhibits the proper production of insulin
- Hepatitis or kidney disorders
- Hormone deficiencies
- Anorexia and other eating disorders
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
Symptoms of hypoglycemia can start quickly, with people experiencing them in different ways. The signs of hypoglycemia are unpleasant. But they provide good warnings that you should take action before blood sugar drops more. The signs include:
- Shaking or trembling.
- Tingling or numbness in the face or mouth.
During a severe hypoglycemic event, a person may:
- Be unable to eat or drink.
- Have a seizure or convulsions .
- Lose consciousness.
- Slip into a coma or die .
A Low Blood Sugar Level Without Diabetes
A low blood sugar level is uncommon in people who do not have diabetes.
Possible causes include:
- a gastric bypass
- other medical conditions, such as problems with your hormone levels, pancreas, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands or heart
- some medicines, including quinine
See a GP if you think you keep getting symptoms of a low blood sugar level. They can arrange some simple tests to check if your blood sugar level is low and try to find out what’s causing it.
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No Symptoms Be Alarmed
Surprisingly, the most dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia occur with little or no warning. When low blood glucose occurs on a regular basis, the body can become used to the warning signs and the person may stop noticing symptoms. This is a particularly dangerous condition known as hypoglycemic unawareness. People with this condition might not realize they have low blood glucose until it’s dangerously low seizures and coma are sometimes the first indication of a problem. The good news is that this condition can often be reversed allowing people to once again notice the signs of low blood glucose if hypoglycemia is avoided for a few weeks through careful monitoring of blood glucose.
Symptoms Of A Low Blood Sugar Level
A low blood sugar level can affect everyone differently. You’ll learn how it makes you feel, although your symptoms may change over time.
Early signs of a low blood sugar level include:
- a fast or pounding heartbeat
- becoming easily irritated, tearful, anxious or moody
- turning pale
If a low blood sugar level is not treated, you may get other symptoms, such as:
- unusual behaviour, slurred speech or clumsiness
- feeling sleepy
- seizures or fits
- collapsing or passing out
A low blood sugar level, or hypo, can also happen while you’re sleeping. This may cause you to wake up during the night or cause headaches, tiredness or damp sheets in the morning.
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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.
How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed
The only way to know if you have hypoglycemia is to check your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter. Its a small machine that measures blood sugar. Most of these devices use a tiny prick of the finger to take a small amount of blood.
People with hypoglycemia unawareness may need a continuous glucose monitor. These wearable devices measure glucose every few minutes, day and night. An alarm sounds if blood sugar drops too low.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Each person’s reaction to low blood sugar is different. Learn your own signs and symptoms of when your blood sugar is low. Taking time to write these symptoms down may help you learn your own symptoms of when your blood sugar is low. From milder, more common indicators to most severe, signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Feeling shaky
- Color draining from the skin
- Feeling sleepy
- Feeling weak or having no energy
- Blurred/impaired vision
- 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 sugar is to check your blood sugar, if possible. If you are experiencing symptoms and you are unable to check your blood sugar for any reason, treat the hypoglycemia.
A low blood sugar 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 level 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 sugar stays low for too long, starving the brain of glucose, it may lead to seizures, coma and very rarely death.