Low Blood Sugar And Nausea
Whether people have diabetes or not, when they have mild low blood sugar, they may feel extremely hungry, often also nauseated. This symptom combination is the first sign of low blood sugar and is caused by the release of the stress hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline.
When your blood sugar drops, it triggers the fight-or-flight response, causing a surge of adrenaline. This flood of adrenaline functions as a helper, moving stored glucose into the bloodstream quickly. However, this surge isnt without effects. Other symptoms like sweating, shakiness, and anxiousness can also be caused by this process.
That said, people with diabetes shouldnt assume their nausea is always related to low blood sugar. The only way to know for certain is to measure your blood sugar. If your levels are within the normal range, other factors may be contributing to your nausea.
How Does High Blood Sugar Affect The Body
High sugar in the blood can lead to a number of other symptoms and complications. Here are just a few.
Urination and thirst: High blood sugar goes into the kidneys and urine. This attracts more water, causing frequent urination. This can also lead to increased thirst, despite drinking enough liquids.
Weight loss: High blood sugar can cause sudden or unexplained weight loss. This occurs because the bodys cells are not getting the glucose they need, so the body burns muscle and fat for energy instead.
Numbness and tingling: High blood sugar can also cause numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands, legs, and feet. This is due to diabetic neuropathy, a complication of diabetes that often occurs after many years of high blood sugar levels.
Whats The Link Between Diabetes And Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is most common, by far, in people with diabetes. Treatment for the diseaseoften involves taking medication to increase insulin. Hypoglycemia can develop if things like food, exercise and diabetes medications are out of balance.
Common pitfalls for people with diabetes include:
- Being more active than usual.
- Drinking alcohol without eating.
- Eating late or skipping meals.
- Not balancing meals by including fat, protein and fiber.
- Not eating enough carbohydrates.
- Not timing insulin and carb intake correctly .
Also, if someone with diabetes uses the wrong insulin, takes too much or injects it incorrectly, that can cause hypoglycemia.
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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.
A Low Blood Sugar Level And Driving
You may still be allowed to drive if you have diabetes or you’re at risk of a low blood sugar level for another reason, but you’ll need to do things to reduce the chance of this happening while you’re driving.
You also need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and your car insurance company about your condition.
For more information, see:
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Your Diabetes Devices And Hypoglycemia
Several insulin pumps are now available that make managing blood sugar levels easier, particularly when connected to a glucose meter or a CGM.
Some of the most important advantages of CGM devices are the improved insulin control and the ability to detect trends and lows early. With improved technology, it is now possible for parents to track blood sugar trends in their kids even when they are hundreds of miles apart .
In addition, automated insulin delivery systems, also known an artificial pancreas or a hybrid closed-loop system, will automatically adjust insulin to match your bodys need to help you spend more time in your target range.
Resources that provide people with T1D and their families with more detailed information about pumps and CGM devices are available through JDRF here. For people looking for a deeper understanding of technology that helps people with T1D better manage their blood sugar, JDRF resources are available here.
Ut University Health Services
For some people, a blood sugar below 90 mg/dL can make them feel like this. For others, it takes a lower blood sugar to cause these symptoms.
You must watch your blood sugar level closely. Regular testing of your blood sugar may allow you to detect and treat hypoglycemia before it causes serious symptoms. You may be able to prevent ever having low blood sugar.
Some high blood pressure medicines called beta blockers hide the symptoms of hypoglycemia. If you are taking medicine for high blood pressure, ask your healthcare provider if the medicines you are taking could have this effect.
You should know the difference between the symptoms of low blood sugar and high blood sugar . High blood sugar doesn’t always cause symptoms, but when it does the symptoms may include blurry vision, extreme thirst, and a lot of urination.
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Now Lets Hear From Jessie
My biggest sign of a low blood sugar is that of impending doom. I start to feel a weighted amount of anxiety that is greater than at any other time. I start to shake, and find it hard to concentrate. If Im feeling hopeless, depressed and anxious about something, I check my blood sugar. I am most always trending low when I feel the nervousness set in.
At other times in my life, I have not felt a thing. I will not feel the least bit tired or off, and I will feel like I have some energy. Then, boom! Out of nowhere it hits me, and I have little time to react. I go straight to confusion, not being able to move, and having big floaters in my field of vision. Im grateful to my husband when it hits like that. He knows exactly what to do. Its rather scary.
Im late for things all of the time because of my diabetes, and low blood sugars. Sometimes Im afraid people may think I am just using it to get out of things, but its really quite severe.
Treating Low Blood Glucose If You Take Medicines That Slow Down Digestion
Some diabetes medicines slow down the digestion of carbohydrates to keep blood glucose levels from rising too high after you eat. If you develop low blood glucose while taking these medicines, you will need to take glucose tablets or glucose gel right away. Eating or drinking other sources of carbohydrates wont raise your blood glucose level quickly enough.
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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.
Overdose Of Diabetes Medication
A common cause of hypoglycaemia is taking too much insulin for your current needs. Insulin is a medication that helps control your blood glucose levels. It’s commonly used to treat type 1 diabetes and is also recommended for some people with type 2 diabetes.
A fall in blood glucose levels can also occur after taking too much oral hypoglycaemia medication, such as sulphonylurea, which causes a release of insulin. This medication is often used to lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
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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.
The Causes Of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar levels can happen to kids with diabetes because of the medicines they have to take. Kids with diabetes may need a hormone called insulin and/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 level of sugar in the blood go down.
But sometimes it’s a tricky balancing act, and blood sugar levels can get too low. Kids with diabetes need to keep their blood sugar levels from getting too high or too low. How do they do it? With help from grown-ups, they keep three things in balance:
Each one of these can affect the other. For instance, eating more might mean a kid needs more insulin. And exercising might create the need for an extra snack. Again, a grown-up can help you learn how to juggle those three activities so you keep feeling good.
Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely to happen are:
- skipping meals and snacks
- not eating enough food at a meal or snack
- exercising longer or harder than usual without eating something extra
- getting too much insulin
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
- taking a long bath or shower right after an insulin shot
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What Drinks And Foods Raise Blood Sugar Fast
- 4 teaspoons of sugar
- 1/2 can of regular soda or juice
Many people like the idea of treating low blood sugar with dietary treats such as cake, cookies, and brownies. However, sugar in the form of complex carbohydrates or sugar combined with fat and protein are much too slowly absorbed to be useful in acute treatment.
Once the acute episode has been treated, a healthy, long-acting carbohydrate to maintain blood sugars in the appropriate range should be consumed. Half a sandwich is a reasonable option.
If the hypoglycemic episode has progressed to the point at which the patient cannot or will not take anything by mouth, more drastic measures will be needed. In many cases, a family member or roommate can be trained in the use of glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone that causes a rapid release of glucose stores from the liver. It is an injection given intramuscularly to an individual who cannot take glucose by mouth. A response is usually seen in minutes and lasts for about 90 minutes. Again, a long-acting source of glucose should thereafter be consumed to maintain blood sugar levels in the safe range. If glucagon is not available and the patient is not able to take anything by mouth, emergency services should be called immediately. An intravenous route of glucose administration should be established as soon as possible.
Act Quickly To Treat The Situation
If you suspect you have low blood sugar, Dr. Fruge recommends quickly treating the situation, which she says should include “eating healthy foods such as complex carbohydrates, beans or fruit.”
“At the Pritikin Longevity Center we serve a cup of fruit with a cup of veggies to prevent a spike in insulin, which can sometimes lead to a later drop in blood sugar again,” she explains. “Adjusting your diabetes medication as prescribed by your physician may also be necessary. It’s important to retest your blood sugar 20 minutes after eating to confirm it has improved.”
Keep a fast-acting carbohydrate snack or two on hand in case your blood sugar dips below healthy levels.
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When Blood Sugar Is Too Low
Hypoglycemia is the medical word for low blood sugar level. It needs to be treated right away. Why? Because glucose, or sugar, is the body’s main fuel source. That means your body including your brain needs glucose to work properly.
When blood sugar levels go lower than they’re supposed to, you can get very sick. Your parents and your diabetes health care team will tell you what your blood sugar levels should be and what to do if they get too low.
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.
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Make Some Small Changes
You might try to get more exercise, or limit carbs at your next meal, but donât go crazy. âOne blood sugar thatâs high doesnât indicate a need for major changesthat should only be done on a pattern,â says Rice, such as âcontinuing highs despite following a doctorâs instructions.â If a pattern continues for two to three days or more, then you might want to let your health-care provider know.
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Low Blood Sugar After Meals
If a person has low blood sugar shortly after finishing a meal, they could have reactive hypoglycemia.
People recovering after recent stomach surgery may be at a higher risk of this after meals. This is because food passes through the stomach too quickly.
Similarly, people who experience pre-diabetes may notice a drop in blood sugar levels after eating because their bodies cannot regulate insulin properly.
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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.
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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