Treating Severely Low Blood Sugar
Blood sugar below 55 mg/dL is considered severely low. You wont be able to treat it using the 15-15 rule. You also may not be able to check your own blood sugar or treat it by yourself, depending on your symptoms. Make sure your family members, friends, and caregivers know your signs of low blood sugar so they can help treat it if needed.
Injectable glucagon is the best way to treat severely low blood sugar. A glucagon kit is available by prescription. Speak with your doctor to see if you should have a kit. Be sure to learn how and when to use it. Let family members and others close to you know where you keep the glucagon kit and make sure theyve been trained in how to use it too.
Its important to contact a doctor for emergency medical treatment immediately after receiving a glucagon injection. If a person faints due to severely low blood sugar, theyll usually wake up within 15 minutes after a glucagon injection. If they dont wake up within 15 minutes after the injection, they should receive one more dose. When the person is awake and able to swallow:
- Feed the person a fast-acting source of sugar .
- Then, have them eat a long-acting source of sugar .
Its also important that friends, family, co-workers, teachers, coaches, and other people you may be around often know how to test your blood sugar and treat severely low blood sugar before it happens.
If any of the following happens, your friend, relative, or helper should call 911:
Only You Can Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes
Its annoying but true: The best way to lower your blood sugar is to avoid a spike in the first place.
Eating whole foods that are low in sugar and exercising regularly will help keep your blood sugar in check. This can be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes, but medications may also be necessary to keep blood sugar in a healthy range.
To avoid food-based spikes, try to steer clear of added sugars in your diet. The FDA recommends consuming less than 200 calories a day from added sugars.
That sounds pretty simple, but when you realize that 16 ounces of orange juice has 240 calories , its easy to see how sugar consumption gets out of hand.
Its best to avoid all sugary drinks and check the labels. There are hidden sugars in everything from bread to turkey slices, so double-check your favorite foods to make sure you arent getting any unnecessary sweetness.
How To Raise Blood Sugar Levels Quickly And Safely
- To raise blood sugar levels quickly, eat or drink something containing about 15 grams of simple carbs for a quick boost to restore blood glucose.
- Frequent low blood sugar episodes can cause a potentially dangerous condition called hypoglycemia unawareness, where there are no warning signs until more severe symptoms, like shakiness and confusion, set in.
- This article was by Scott Kaiser, MD, geriatrician and Director of Geriatric Cognitive Health for Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
- Visit Insiders Health Reference library for more advice.
is a condition where blood sugar levels drop too low and need to be restored fast. If the condition isnt treated quickly, you risk symptoms and complications like shakiness, confusion, seizures, or even death.
Heres what you need to know about the causes and symptoms of hypoglycemia and the safest ways to raise blood sugar quickly.
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Exercise To Lower Blood Sugar
Exercise is great for regulating your blood sugar levels overall. It is a great tool for getting your levels back down when they spike. Exercise causes your muscles to use more glucose and it helps your body to better utilize insulin. Exercise gets your blood flowing, causing your body to use up any excess sugar in the blood, regulating your levels. As you get your heart rate up during exercise, you release endorphins and your body starts to feel better. Exercising to lose belly fat is a great way to naturally lower your blood sugar.
- To be effective, you want to get your heart rate up for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Monitor sugar intermittently to make sure your level doesnt drop too quickly. Moderate walking works well to get the blood pumping. Exercise is the fastest way to bring down blood sugar second to administering insulin. Frequent, regular exercise is important for maintaining healthy sugar levels. As always, be sure to check with doctor first before starting a new exercise routine.
- NOTE: Exercise is not recommended for people with diabetic ketoacidosis. See your doctor for appropriate interventions.
- Weight training is also great for lower blood sugar. It builds muscle that burns glucose more efficiently. Be aware that you may see a rise in levels when your first begin weight training, so be sure to monitor your levels.
Strategies To Stabilize Blood Sugar
Getting your blood sugar to healthy levels may take trial and error, but there are steps to help you achieve it.
Having a daily routine is critical for good diabetes control,” Dr. Kassem says. “That means following your meal plan, exercising regularly, being consistent with blood sugar testing, and following up regularly with your doctor.” Tracking carbohydrates is particularly important. Big variations in carbohydrate intake from day to day can lead to fluctuations in blood sugars, she adds. For example, when you consume excess carbohydrates, the body digests them like sugar and sends them straight to the bloodstream, increasing the risk of blood sugar spikes.
Follow these specific strategies to help control blood sugar:
Exercise A regular exercise program has been shown to help manage blood sugar levels over time, and taking a varied approach to fitness is good for diabetes and health in general. Participants in a 12-week program who exercised for an hour three times a week using both aerobic and resistance training had improved diabetes management, according to research published in February 2015 in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. So mix it up with strength training, aerobic workouts, and any other activities you enjoy.
Drinking Wisely Alcohol can cause an immediate rise in blood sugar and then a drop a few hours later. Its best to stick to moderate amounts and have some solid food with your beverage.
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How To Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Last Updated: June 3, 2021References
This article was co-authored by Claudia Carberry, RD, MS. Claudia Carberry is a Registered Dietitian specializing in kidney transplants and counseling patients for weight loss at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She is a member of the Arkansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Claudia received her MS in Nutrition from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2010.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 50,044 times.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly thirty million Americans have diabetes, which for them means a daily effort to control their blood sugar or glucose levels.XTrustworthy SourceAmerican Diabetes AssociationHealth-based nonprofit focused on preventing and researching diabetesGo to source If you have diabetes, it is important to learn about your condition and how to bring it under better control. There are ways, challenging though they be, to do this. You may need insulin therapy, you may need to improve your eating habits or exercise regimen, or you may, perhaps, need to change your lifestyle as a whole.
Whats Considered Low Blood Sugar
Your blood sugar tends to fluctuate throughout the day. Itll be lower when you first wake up, especially if you havent eaten for the past 8 to 10 hours.
Your blood sugar will go up once you eat. Depending on when you last ate, heres whats considered to be a normal blood sugar range:
|Fasting||2 hours after a meal|
|7099 mg/dL||Less than 140 mg/dL|
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, is when your blood sugar levels fall below 70 mg/dL.
The point at which low blood sugar symptoms become noticeable is different from one person to the next.
Some people may feel jittery, irritable, or lightheaded when their blood sugar level falls to 70 mg/dL. Other people may not feel any symptoms until well below that mark.
A quick, simple blood test can measure your blood sugar level. If you have diabetes or another medical condition that sometimes causes episodes of low blood sugar, its important to regularly check your blood sugar with a home test.
If a test shows that your blood sugar is below normal, you can take steps to adjust it quickly.
Symptoms of low blood sugar vary from person to person and can even be different from one episode to the next. You may experience specific symptoms the first time your blood sugar dips, and different symptoms the next time.
The most common mild to moderate symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- jitters or shaking
More severe symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
- inability to eat or drink
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What About The Glycemic Index
Your daily carb total, spread steadily across the day, is one key to good blood sugar control. Some people also use the glycemic index , a rating of how individual foods raise blood sugar levels. Beans and whole-grain breads and cereals have a lower GI than white bread and regular pasta. Juice has a higher GI than whole fruit. Craving a high-GI food? Eat it along with a lower-GI choice to help control your levels.
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Treatment For High Blood Sugar Levels
For those with high blood sugar levels, it is vital to keep track of your blood sugars at home on a daily basis. This can be done with a glucose meter. These test monitors are often provided to diabetic patients so that they can manage their blood sugar levels at home everyday. They are available to purchase online if you are non-diabetic but wish to check on your levels regularly for safety.
Diabetic patients can be prescribed medications to help with insulin levels when their blood sugar is high. Those with type 1 diabetes will be prescribed medication which needs to be taken several times daily. This type of diabetes has no cure but can be managed with the right medication.
Those with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes can treat their high blood sugar with a change in diet or exercise. A healthier balanced diet is usually advised and sometimes, insulin medication is also prescribed if the blood sugar level becomes abnormally higher than the high reading for diabetic patients.
What Causes High Blood Sugar Levels In The Morning
Commonly known reasons why your blood sugar may be high in the morning include high-carb bedtime snacks and not enough diabetes medications.
Yet two lesser-known reasons may be causing your morning blood sugar woes: the dawn phenomenon and the Somogyi effect. These causes of high morning blood sugar levels are a result of body changes and reactions that happen while you are sleeping.
Best Foods For Low Blood Sugar
For patients with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is a part of daily life.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can occur for many people with diabetes who are on certain medications, including insulin. It can occur for a variety of reasons including skipping a meal, exercising strenuously, taking too much insulin or consuming alcohol, especially on an empty stomach.
Low blood sugar can be as minor as a slight inconvenience or as serious as a life-threatening emergency. Thats why it is important to boost blood sugar before it becomes problematic.
Angela Norton, a diabetes educator at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, has diabetes herself, so she knows firsthand the tips and tricks of keeping blood sugar on track. Although blood glucose is considered normal if above 70 mg/dL, Norton says patients with diabetes should not wait until they reach below that threshold to take action.
Treat when you feel the symptoms, even if your blood sugar is not below 70, because as long as it is less than 100, it may be dropping fast, she says.
When it comes to treatment, Norton shares these five foods to help boost low blood sugar.
1. CandyWhen hypoglycemia occurs, patients should follow the 15-15 rule. Consume 15 grams of carbohydrates to raise blood glucose and check your levels again after 15 minutes. When the numbers return to normal, eat a snack to stay on track.
Gummy candies contain carbohydrates, which have a large impact on blood sugar levels.
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Caution: Birth Control Pills
Types that have estrogen can affect the way your body handles insulin. Still, oral contraceptives are safe for women with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association suggests a combination pill with norgestimate and synthetic estrogen. The group also says birth control shots and implants are safe for women with the condition, though they can affect your blood sugar levels.
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.
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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.
Eat More Low Glycemic Foods
Food with a low glycemic index wont spike your blood sugar. Even though they contain carbs, theyre high in fiber, so they take longer to digest. Some of my favorite low glycemic foods also happen to be packed with vitamins and antioxidants that can support a healthy immune system. These include:
- All berries
- Leafy green vegetables
- Orange vegetables and fruits
- Nuts and seeds
Lean proteins like chicken and fish actually score a big fat zero on the glycemic index scale. That means they have no carbohydrates, so they wont raise your blood sugar. They also provide amino acids that your body needs to build the proteins in your immune system. Poultry, fish, and eggs are all great choices.
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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.
What Else Can I Do To Help Manage My Blood Sugar Levels
- Keep track of your blood sugar levels to see what makes them go up or down.
- Eat at regular times, and dont skip meals.
- Choose foods lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
- Track your food, drink, and physical activity.
- Drink water instead of juice or soda.
- Limit alcoholic drinks.
- For a sweet treat, choose fruit.
- Control your food portions .
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