Examples Of Easily Digestible Carbohydrates
- 1/2 cup of juice or regular soda
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 4 or 5 saltine crackers
- 3 or 4 pieces of hard candy or glucose tablets
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
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.
Nighttime Low Blood Sugar
While low blood sugar can happen at any time during the day, some people may experience low blood sugar while they sleep. Reasons this may happen include:
- Having an active day.
- Being physically active close to bedtime.
- Taking too much insulin.
- Drinking alcohol at night.
Eating regular meals and not skipping them can help you avoid nighttime low blood sugar. Eating when you drink alcohol can also help. If you think youre at risk for low blood sugar overnight, have a snack before bed.
You may wake up when you have low blood sugar, but you shouldnt rely on that. A continuous glucose monitor can alert you with an alarm if your blood sugar gets low while youre sleeping.
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.
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Can A Continuous Glucose Monitor Help With Low Blood Sugar
A continuous glucose monitor measures the bodys glucose levels in real-time by sensing the glucose present in tissue fluid . A CGM typically provides your glucose level every five minutes, which can be really helpful for tracking and finding patterns in how your glucose changes throughout the day. With CGM you can see how much time you spend in your target glucose range each day , notice trends, and develop strategies to improve your diabetes management.
CGMs can sound alerts when glucose levels drop below a certain threshold or are predicted to do so soon. This can be especially helpful for people who experience hypoglycemia unawareness, nighttime low blood sugar, or frequent hypoglycemic events. CGMs also allow you to share your glucose readings with your loved ones and care-partners in real time, so that they can let you know or help you out if your blood sugar starts to drop.
If you are interested in trying CGM, ask your healthcare team if the technology is available to you. You can also try ten-days of CGM for free.
What To Eat When Your Blood Sugar Is Low
Diabetes is increasing in prevalence worldwide, and unfortunately, more people are becoming familiar with this chronic disease.
Diabetes affects the pancreas and its ability to produce the hormone insulin. When the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed, or when the body doesnt respond to insulin as well as it should, blood glucose levels rise, and diabetes develops.
Having diabetes means that your pancreas cant automatically keep your blood sugar levels where they should be. People without diabetes may never appreciate how efficient the pancreas is at releasing insulin when it should and the liver releasing sugar to prevent low blood sugar.
When you have diabetes, one of the main goals is to keep blood sugar levels from going too high and too low. It can seem like a balancing act sometimes since many factors can influence blood sugar levels. Despite the best diabetes management plan and healthy habits, there may still be a time when someone with diabetes experiences low blood sugar.
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What Are The Recommended Targets For Blood Glucose Levels
Many people with diabetes aim to keep their blood glucose at these normal levels:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL
- About 2 hours after a meal starts: less than 180 mg/dL
Talk with your health care team about the best target range for you. Be sure to tell your health care professional if your glucose levels often go above or below your target range.
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Warning Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia can cause both short- and long-term complications. Know the signs so that you can treat the condition as soon as youre aware of it.
As a person living with diabetes, you know how important it is to reduce blood sugar when it is too high, a phenomenon called hyperglycemia. But blood sugar that is too low, or hypoglycemia, is equally critical to avoid.
Hypoglycemia happens when the amount of blood glucose drops to a level thats too low to sustain normal functioning, says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, who is based in Sparta, New Jersey. In most people, this is defined as a blood sugar level at or below 70 milligrams per deciliter .
Hypoglycemia is common among people with type 2 diabetes, according to a review published in June 2015 in the journal PLoS One. Individuals with the condition had an average of 19 mild or moderate episodes of hypoglycemia per year and nearly one severe episode per year on average, according to the researchers. Low blood sugar was particularly common among those taking insulin.
This decrease in blood sugar levels can cause both short-term complications, like confusion and dizziness, as well as more serious issues, including seizures, coma, and, rarely, death, according to the American Diabetes Association .
Hypoglycemia is usually the result of a too-high dose of insulin or a change in diet or exercise habits, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
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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 .
Whats Considered To Be A High Blood Sugar Level
A fasting blood sugar is considered to be high if its above 130 mg/dl. Fasting hyperglycemia is common. A high postprandial, or post-meal, blood sugar is one that is above 180 mg/dl two hours after eating. Keep in mind, too, that your blood sugar goals may be different, so talk with your provider about your own goals.
Of course, blood sugar levels can go much higher for example, diabetic ketoacidosis may occur when blood sugars are above 250 mg/dl. Some people even have blood sugar levels in the 400s or 500s or higher.
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How Common Is Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose is common among people with type 1 diabetes and among people with type 2 diabetes who take insulin or some other diabetes medicines. In a large global study of people with diabetes who take insulin, 4 in 5 people with type 1 diabetes and nearly half of those with type 2 diabetes reported a low blood sugar event at least once over a 4-week period.2
Severely low blood glucose, defined as when your blood glucose level drops so low you cant treat it yourself, is less common. Among U.S. adults with diabetes who take insulin or some diabetes medicines that help the pancreas release insulin into the blood, 2 in 100 may develop severely low blood glucose each year.3
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.
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S For Treating A Person With Symptoms Keeping Them From Being Able To Treat Themselves
Dont hesitate to call 911. If someone is unconscious and glucagon is not available or someone does not know how to use it, call 911 immediately.
- Inject insulin
- Provide food or fluids
How Do You Feel If Your Blood Sugar Is Low
If your blood sugar is low, you may feel out of it confused, annoyed, and without focus. You should treat lows immediately, whether your glucose is below 70 mg/dL or trending toward that number, and whether or not you are feeling symptoms.
Its important to take hypoglycemia seriously. Read on to learn what to do when your blood sugar is low.
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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 bodys cells, which makes the level of sugar in the blood go down.
But sometimes its 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:
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
- taking a long bath or shower right after an insulin shot
Why Am I Having Lows
If you are experiencing low blood glucose and youre not sure why, bring a record of blood glucose, 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 glucose 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.
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Key Points About Hypoglycemia In Children
Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood glucose is too low to fuel the brain and the body.
It may be a condition by itself, or may be a complication of diabetes or another disorder.
To treat low blood glucose right away, your child should eat or drink something with sugar, such as orange juice, milk, cake icing, or a hard candy. They should follow with food with complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein, such as a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Severe or long-lasting hypoglycemia may result in seizures and serious brain injury.
Start With These Tips To Lower Blood Sugar Levels
To help you get started on filling your plate with more blood sugar friendly foods that will help lower your blood sugar, start by removing refined sugar, refined grains, and most processed foods from your diet. Processed foods all contain chemicals and refined ingredients that our bodies dont recognize as real nutrients, so our cells never really get what they need and we feel hungry all the time as a result. This also leads to blood sugar swings and spikes that cause insulin to work less efficiently.
What helps insulin work best so that blood sugar stays in a stable place are foods that pack dense amounts of nutrition and contain amino acids , fiber , and healthy fats from real food.
Lets check out some foods that can help lower blood sugar levels by offering us these nutritional benefits, shall we?
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Manage Your Carb Intake
Your carb intake strongly influences your blood sugar levels .
Your body breaks carbs down into sugars, mainly glucose. Then, insulin helps your body use and store it for energy.
When you eat too many carbs or have insulin-function problems, this process fails, and blood glucose levels can rise.
Thats why the American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes manage their carb intake by counting carbs and being aware of how many they need .
Some studies find that this can help you plan your meals appropriately, further improving blood sugar management (
Foods that are high in fiber include:
- whole grains
The recommended daily intake of fiber is about 25 grams for women and 35 grams for men. Thats about 14 grams for every 1,000 calories .
Eating plenty of fiber can aid blood sugar management. Soluble dietary fiber appears to be more effective than insoluble fiber for this purpose.
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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What A Low Blood Sugar Feels Like
Across the board, a low blood sugar seems to be considered as anything under 70 mg/dL. Revisiting the American Diabetes Associations website this morning offers up a list of symptoms of low blood sugar, like:
- Nightmares or crying out during sleep
The what happens if a low blood sugar goes untreated answer is short, and to the point: If left untreated, hypoglycemia may lead to a seizure or unconsciousness . In this case, someone else must take over.
When my daughter hears my Dexcom beeping, she understands the difference between the alert signaling a high blood sugar and the alert signaling a low. If the high alarm goes off, she doesnt react, but if the low alarm goes off, she perks up immediately and asks me if I need a glupose tab. The immediacy and seriousness of low blood sugars is noticed by my three year old because shes seen me go from normal, functional Mom to confused, sweaty, and tangled-in-my-own-words Mom in a matter of minutes.
The symptoms of low blood sugars dont just vary from PWD to PWD, but often vary within the PWDs own lifetime. When I was very small, my low blood sugar tell was when my mouth would go numb and my face felt like Id had Novocaine hours earlier and it was just starting to wear off, with that tingly, prickly feeling. Over the years, Ive had a lot of lows with varying symptoms:
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Consequences Of Blood Sugar Levels
Whilst most symptoms of low and high blood sugar levels are mild, they can worsen if left untreated and sometimes have long term consequences and/or complications. Overtime, a high blood sugar level is what can cause consequences. Lack of treatment can cause severe damage to the blood vessels and lead to complications such as:
- Heart attack
- Damage to the eyes and/or loss of vision
- Nerve problems in the feet leading to infections
To avoid long term consequences and complications, it is advised to take all precautionary measures and treat your blood sugar level so that it can be maintained at your ideal reading. So do so, follow all treatment methods, stay on track with checking your level daily and seeking help if symptoms persist.
If you have any more questions, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions which may answer your concerns:
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What If The 15
If you dont feel better after three tries, or if your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider or 911. Healthcare providers can use a medication called glucagon. They inject it with a needle or squirt it up your nose. Glucagon is also available for home use. Your healthcare provider can prescribe it and teach a family member or friend how to use it in the event of severe hypoglycemia.