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How Does Low Blood Sugar Happen

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When To Call The Doctor

Low Blood Sugar Karen

If signs of low blood sugar do not improve after you have eaten a snack that contains sugar, have someone drive you to the emergency room or call your local emergency number . DO NOT drive when your blood sugar is low.

Get medical help right away for a person with low blood sugar if the person is not alert or cannot be woken up.

Signs That Blood Sugar Levels Are Low

There are a bunch of symptoms that someone with low blood sugar might have. It’s not the same for everybody. The symptoms are as minor as feeling hungry and as serious as having seizures or passing out. Have you ever had low blood sugar? If so, do you remember how it felt? Noticing those problems early can help you if it happens again.

If you have diabetes and you have low blood sugar, you may:

  • feel hungry or have “hunger pains” in your stomach
  • feel shaky or like you’re trembling
  • have a rapid heart rate
  • feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
  • have pale, gray skin color
  • have a headache
  • be unsteady or stagger when walking
  • have blurred or double vision
  • feel confused
  • have seizures
  • pass out

If you think your blood sugar level could be low, tell a parent, teacher, or whoever is taking care of you. An adult can help you test your blood and get you treatment so you start feeling better.

How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed

If you suspect you have low blood sugar, its important to check your blood sugar right away. If you dont have a blood glucose meter and youre on diabetes medications that increase insulin, talk with your doctor about getting a meter.

If you experience low blood sugar often say, a few times a week see your doctor right away to find out why. Your doctor will begin your visit by requesting your medical history, asking questions about your eating habits, and learning more about the symptoms youre experiencing.

If you dont have diabetes but suspect you have hypoglycemia, talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor will use three criteria, sometimes referred to as Whipples triad, to diagnose low blood sugar:

  • Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor may require you to fast, or abstain from drinking and eating for an extended period of time, so they can observe your low blood sugar signs and symptoms.
  • Documentation of low blood sugar when your signs and symptoms occur. Your doctor will order a blood test to analyze your blood sugar levels in a laboratory.
  • Disappearance of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will want to know whether the signs and symptoms go away when your blood sugar levels are raised.

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High Or Low Blood Sugar

Nausea is a symptom of both high and low blood sugar, so it is important to check your levels at home with your glucometer before deciding on your next steps. If you are experiencing blood glucose highs and lows regularly or more frequently than usual, tell your healthcare provider. They can help determine the cause and a plan of action to keep your blood sugar levels within the normal range.

What Are Clinical Trials For Low Blood Glucose

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE LOW BLOOD SUGAR?  Multispeciality Hospitals ...

Clinical trialsand other types of clinical studiesare part of medical research and involve people like you. When you volunteer to take part in a clinical study, you help doctors and researchers learn more about disease and improve health care for people in the future.

Researchers are studying many aspects of low blood glucose levels in diabetes, such as

  • how to diagnose and treat low blood glucose among people with diabetes
  • medicines that can treat symptoms of low blood glucose in people with hypoglycemia unawareness
  • educational approaches to reduce fear of low blood glucose, which can make it harder for you to control your diabetes

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What If I Have Severe Low Blood Glucose And Cant Treat Myself

Glucagona hormone that raises blood glucose levelsis the best way to treat severely low blood glucose. Available as an injection or a nasal spray, glucagon will quickly raise your blood glucose level. Your doctor can prescribe you a glucagon kit for use in case of an emergency.

If your blood glucose level drops very low, you wont be able to treat it by yourself. Be prepared to address severely low blood glucose by

  • talking with your doctor or health care team about when and how to use a glucagon emergency kit. If you have an emergency kit, regularly check the date on the package to make sure it hasnt expired.
  • teaching your family, friends, and coworkers when and how to give you glucagon. Tell them to call 911 right away after giving you glucagon or if you dont have a glucagon emergency kit with you.
  • wearing a medical alert identification bracelet or pendant. A medical alert ID tells other people that you have diabetes and need care right away. Getting prompt care can help prevent the serious problems that low blood glucose levels can cause.

What Is The Treatment For Dka

If DKA is caught early enough, people with diabetes can sometimes treat DKA from home with specific instructions from their healthcare provider. If you think you might be developing DKA, call your healthcare provider immediately. They’ll determine if you’ll be able to treat it from home or if you’ll need to go to the hospital.

If you have diabetes and your healthcare provider has determined that you can treat DKA from home, be sure to do the following:

If your symptoms of DKA are severe, youll have to go to the hospital for treatment. You may receive the following treatments in a hospital setting:

  • IV fluids: IV fluids help to correct possible dehydration, clear ketones through the urine and correct electrolyte imbalance.
  • Insulin: Your healthcare team may give you insulin through an IV or as a needle injection .
  • Other treatments: Depending on the severity of your DKA, your healthcare team may give you other treatments to help you recover.

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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.

What Else Can You Do To Control Blood Sugar Levels

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Yes. People with diabetes should wear identification stating they have diabetes and whether they have recurrent low blood sugar. Those at risk for the health condition should be counseled on checking blood sugars before they drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or do anything physically taxing. In addition, it is important to carry a quick-acting glucose source at all times, and keep a source in their car, office, and by their bedside. Efforts should be made to minimize the hypoglycemic effects of drug regimens and to avoid variable surges in exercise, activity, and drinking alcohol.

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What To Do If You Have Low Blood Sugar Symptoms

If you have diabetes and are experiencing mild to moderate hypoglycemia symptoms, you need to immediately eat or drink 15 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates.

Very low blood sugar is a medical emergency. If you or someone else with diabetes is experiencing severe symptoms, such as unconsciousness, its important to administer a medication called glucagon and contact emergency services immediately.

If youre at risk for low blood sugar, its important to talk with your doctor about getting a prescription for glucagon.

You should never give an unconscious person anything by mouth, as it could cause them to choke. If you have diabetes, make sure your family and friends know not to do this if you lose consciousness.

Low blood sugar can occur for a number of reasons. Its usually a side effect of diabetes treatment.

Low Blood Glucose During Sleep

Your blood glucose level can drop while you sleep and stay low for several hours, causing serious problems.7 Symptoms of low blood glucose while you sleep can include

  • crying out or having nightmares
  • sweating enough to make your pajamas or sheets damp
  • feeling tired, irritable, or confused after waking up

Although you may not wake up or notice any symptoms, low blood glucose can interfere with your sleep, which may affect your quality of life, mood, and ability to work. Having low blood glucose during sleep can also make you less likely to notice and respond to symptoms of low blood glucose during the day.

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How Is Hypoglycemia Treated

When your blood sugar levels are too low, eating carbohydrates is key. If you have diabetes, try to keep high carbohydrate snacks on hand.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that your snack have at least 15 grams of carbohydrates. Some good snacks to keep on hand are:

  • hard candies
  • jelly beans or gumdrops
  • fresh or dried fruit

You also can take glucose tablets to rapidly raise your blood sugar if its low. These are available without a prescription. Its important to check how many grams are in each tablet before taking them. Aim to get 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates.

Wait 15 minutes after eating or taking a glucose tablet and test your blood sugar again. If your blood sugar is not going up, eat another 15 grams of carbohydrates or take another dose of glucose tablets. Repeat this until your blood sugar level starts to rise.

Be sure not to overeat. This could lead to blood sugar levels that are too high.

If your blood sugar remains unresponsive, contact your doctor or emergency services right away. When in doubt, treat.

Symptoms of low blood sugar usually get worse if theyre left untreated. Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have diabetes and experience low blood sugar levels often, or if you have symptoms, even if you dont have diabetes.

What Tests Are Used To Diagnose Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Why Is Low Blood Sugar So Dangerous for People With Diabetes?

In the hospital, healthcare providers may use the following tests to diagnose DKA:

  • Blood pressure check.
  • Osmolality blood test.

If you have diabetes and call your healthcare provider from home about your symptoms, they can usually determine if you have diabetic ketoacidosis based on your history, blood sugar levels and urine and/or blood ketones. They will also determine if you can treat your symptoms from home or if you need to go to the hospital for treatment. There are a few at-home tests you can take to see if you could have DKA, including:

  • Urine ketone test: A urine ketone test measures the number of ketones in your pee. Its usually a strip that will turn a certain color depending on what level of ketones are in your pee. Urine ketone tests can be purchased at your local pharmacy without a prescription. Follow the instructions on the packaging to be sure you are doing the test properly.
  • Blood ketone test: Some at-home blood glucose meters can check blood ketones as well as blood sugar levels with a drop of blood. There are also meters that just check ketones in your blood that you can buy.
  • Blood glucose tests: High blood sugar is a sign that you could have DKA. Checking your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter or using a continuous glucose monitoring sensor is the only way to know for sure if you have high blood sugar.

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How Can I Prevent Hypoglycemic Episodes

The key to preventing hypoglycemic events is managing diabetes:

  • Follow your healthcare providers instructions about food and exercise.
  • Track your blood sugar regularly, including before and after meals, before and after exercise and before bed.
  • Take all your medications exactly as prescribed.
  • When you do have a hypoglycemic event, write it down. Include details such as the time, what you ate recently, whether you exercised, the symptoms and your glucose level.

What Causes Low Blood Sugar

Despite advances in the treatment of diabetes, low blood sugar episodes occur as a side effect of many treatments for diabetes. In fact, these episodes are often the limiting factor in achieving optimal blood sugar control, because many medications that are effective in treating diabetes carry the risk of lowering the blood sugar level too much, causing symptoms. In large scale studies looking at tight control in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, low blood sugars occurred more often in the patients who were managed most intensively. This is important for patients and physicians to recognize, especially as the goal for treating patients with diabetes becomes tighter control of blood sugar.

While people who do not have any metabolic problems can complain of symptoms that resemble low blood sugar, true hypoglycemia usually occurs in people with diabetes mellitus . People with pre-diabetes or insulin resistance also can have low blood sugars on occasion if their high circulating insulin levels are further challenged by a prolonged period of fasting. There are other rare causes for the condition, such as insulin-producing tumors and certain medications.

These uncommon causes of hypoglycemia will not be discussed in this article, which will primarily focus on the condition occurring with type 1 or 2 diabetes and its treatment.

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Hypoglycemia Tests And Diagnosis

To diagnose nondiabetic hypoglycemia, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about any medicines you take. Theyâll want to know all about your health and any history of diseases or stomach surgery.

Theyâll check your blood glucose level, especially when you are having symptoms. Theyâll also check to see if you feel better when your sugar goes back to a normal level.

If your doctor suspects hypoglycemia, you may have to fast until you start to have symptoms. Theyâll test your blood glucose level at different times throughout the fast.

To check for reactive hypoglycemia, you may have to take a test called a mixed-meal tolerance test . For this, you take a special drink that raises your blood glucose. The doctor will check your blood glucose levels over the next few hours.

How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy

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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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    How Can I Prevent Low Blood Sugar

    Your best bet is to practice good diabetes management and learn to detect hypoglycemia so you can treat it earlybefore it gets worse.

    Monitoring blood sugar, with either a meter or a CGM, is the tried and true method for preventing hypoglycemia. Studies consistently show that the more a person checks blood sugar, the lower his or her risk of hypoglycemia. This is because you can see when blood sugar levels are dropping and can treat it before it gets too low.

    If you can, check often!

    • Check before and after meals.
    • Check before and after exercise .
    • Check before bed.
    • After intense exercise, also check in the middle of the night.
    • Check more if things around you change such as, a new insulin routine, a different work schedule, an increase in physical activity, or travel across time zones.

    If A Person Is Unconscious

    If a person loses consciousness because of severe hypoglycaemia, they need to be put into the recovery position and given an injection of the hormone glucagon . The injection will raise their blood glucose level.

    The injection should be carried out by a friend or family member who knows what they’re doing, or by a trained healthcare professional.

    You should dial 999 to request an ambulance if:

    • a glucagon injection kit isn’t available
    • there’s nobody available who’s trained to give the injection
    • the injection is ineffective after 10 minutes

    Never try to put food or drink into the mouth of someone who’s unconscious as they could choke.

    If you’re able to give a glucagon injection and the person regains consciousness, they should eat some longer-acting carbohydrate food, such as a few biscuits, a cereal bar or a sandwich.

    You should continue to monitor the person for signs of recurring symptoms in case they need to be treated again.

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    Low Blood Sugar And Driving

    Having a low blood sugar while driving could be dangerous for you and others.

    You can usually still drive if you’re at risk of low blood sugar. But you’ll need to take extra precautions to reduce the chance of this happening while driving.

    You also need to tell the Driver & Vehicle Agency and your car insurance company about your condition.

    For more information, see:

    How Serious Is Hypoglycemia

    What Is Low Blood Sugar?

    Hypoglycemic episodes can range from mild to severe.

    Mild hypoglycemia can usually be treated by the individual and are to be expected to some degree in people on insulin. Mild hypos are not associated with significant long term health problems unless they are occurring very regularly or for long periods of time.

    Severe hypoglycemia, however, will require treatment from someone else and may require an ambulance. Severe hypos can lead to immediate danger if not treated immediately. Whilst rare, severe hypos can potentially lead to coma and death.

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