Key Points About Hypoglycaemia
|Severe hypoglycaemia is a medical emergency. Call 111 and ask for an ambulance if someone has a blood glucose level less than 4 mmol/l and any one of the following:|
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:
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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What If I Don’t Get Any Signs That I Have Hypoglycaemia
Sometimes people are unable to recognise symptoms of hypoglycaemia and find it difficult to tell if their blood glucose might be low. This may be because a person has:
- had diabetes for a long time
- had too many recent episodes of hypoglycaemia
- not treated their hypoglycaemia correctly
- ignored early warning signs of hypoglycaemia.
The only way to know if blood glucose has gone too low is to check blood glucose levels more often. Sometimes people use a continuous glucose monitor to help them know where their glucose is trending.
It is possible to regain the ability to recognise symptoms of hypoglycaemia. Talk with your diabetes specialist or diabetes educator for advice and support.
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.
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What Are The Causes Of Hypoglycaemia
The usual causes of low blood glucose level are:
- not eating enough carbohydrate with your meal, eg, steak and salad with no carbohydrate such as bread/potato/kumara/rice/pasta
- missing or delaying a meal
- missing snacks
- doing physical activity without either reducing your insulin or taking more carbohydrate before, during or after physical activity
- taking too much insulin
- drinking alcohol in excess or without taking carbohydrate food and/or reducing your insulin.
When Your Blood Sugar Gets Low
Check your blood sugar whenever you have symptoms of low blood sugar. If your blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL, treat yourself right away.
1. Eat something that has about 15 grams of carbohydrates. Examples are:
- 3 glucose tablets
- One half cup of fruit juice or regular, non-diet soda
- 5 or 6 hard candies
- 1 tablespoon or 15 mL of sugar, plain or dissolved in water
- 1 tbsp of honey or syrup
2. Wait about 15 minutes before eating any more. Be careful not to eat too much. This can cause high blood sugar and weight gain.
3. Check your blood sugar again.
4. If you do not feel better in 15 minutes and your blood sugar is still lower than 70 mg/dL , eat another snack with 15 g of carbohydrates.
You may need to eat a snack with carbohydrates and protein if your blood sugar is in a safer range — over 70 mg/dL — and your next meal is more than an hour away.
Ask your provider how to manage this situation. If these steps for raising your blood sugar do not work, call your doctor right away.
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How Are Low Blood Sugar Levels Treated
Your diabetes health care team will give you guidelines for treating low blood sugar levels, depending on your symptoms. If you can, try to test your blood sugar levels to make sure that your symptoms are because of hypoglycemia. If you can’t test blood sugar immediately, don’t delay in treating your symptoms you can always check your blood sugar after you’ve taken steps to get your blood sugar back up into the normal range.
When blood sugar levels are low, the goal is to get them back up quickly. To do that, you should take in sugar or sugary foods, which raise the blood sugar level quickly. Your health care team might suggest that you:
- Eat, drink, or take something that contains sugar that can get into the blood quickly. Your doctor may tell you to have really sugary foods or drinks or might give you glucose tablets or gel to take all of these can help to raise your blood sugar level fast, which is what you need to do when it’s low.
- Wait about 10 minutes to let the sugar work.
- Recheck your blood sugar level with a glucose meter to see if blood sugar levels are back to normal.
- Get a glucagon shot , if your symptoms are severe or get worse after you eat, drink, or take glucose.
Sometimes, blood sugar levels can get so low that you may not be awake enough to eat or drink something to get them back up. When this happens, you may need a glucagon shot.
How Can I Help If I Think Someone Is Having A Hypo
The symptoms of hypos can often be mistaken for drunkenness. So if you see someone acting oddly, especially if you know or suspect they have diabetes, check if they have:
- A medical alert bracelet or similar.
- An insulin pen or syringe, or glucose testing kit.
- Glucose gel or sugary sweets.
- Help them sit down quietly.
- If they have their own glucose gel, help them take it.
- Otherwise, give them sugary sweets, two teaspoons of sugar, or a glass of sugary drink or fruit juice .
- Keep a careful eye on their level of responsiveness, breathing and pulse.
- If they get better, make sure they check their blood glucose.
- If they don’t improve, call 999 .
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Ways To Help Someone Experiencing Hypoglycemia
Sometimes the cause of hypoglycemia is obvious too much insulin, too little food or delayed meal or snack after taking insulin, extra physical activity, illness, or medications. Other times, it seems to creep up for no apparent reason. Hypoglycemia, low blood glucose , is defined as a BG of less than 70 mg/dL. Predicting hypoglycemia can be a serious challenge, and there may be a time where you come to your loved ones rescue if theyre experiencing a low. Here are five tips you can take to be prepared for an emergency.
Its easier to talk about emergencies and other events when youre removed from the situation. Pick a peaceful time when your loved one is feeling good to ask questions, such as what a low feels like for them. Some people may exhibit no warning signs at all, so try to get a better understanding before any issues occur.
Know the Signs and Symptoms
Everyones signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia are somewhat different, and can range from milder, more common indicators, to more severe. Here is the American Diabetes Associations list of common signs and symptoms to look for:
Treat with the Rule of 15
- 3 4 glucose tablets or gels
- 4 ounces of fruit juice
- 6 ounces of regular soda
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of table sugar
Be Prepared to Handle an Emergency
Have any questions or tips? Share it with us in the comments below!
How Do I Treat An Episode Of Hypoglycemia
The American Diabetes Association recommends the 15-15 rule for an episode of hypoglycemia:
- Eat or drink 15 grams of carbs to raise your blood sugar.
- After 15 minutes, check your blood sugar.
- If its still below 70 mg/dL, have another 15 grams of carbs.
- Repeat until your blood sugar is at least 70 mg/dL.
If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia but cant test your blood sugar, use the 15-15 rule until you feel better.
Note: Children need fewer grams of carbs. Check with your healthcare provider.
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You Ate The Wrong Bedtime Snack
Cookies, ice cream, chocolate and crackers are all examples of bedtime snacks that can have an ill effect on your blood sugar. Low-fiber, high-sugar snacks before bed can cause a spike and then a drop in blood sugar, says Castillo. That drop can happen during the night while you snooze.
A better option is a snack that pairs a high-fiber carbohydrate with a high-protein food, he says, as this combo triggers a more even blood sugar response. Some examples include Greek yogurt sprinkled with whole-grain granola or berries with cottage cheese. If youre eating lower carbohydrate, then you want a fat and protein snack, like nut butter swirled into Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.
How Can I Avoid Hypos
If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll often be encouraged to control your blood sugar to almost the same levels as someone who doesn’t have diabetes, especially if you’re young and don’t have complications of diabetes or other medical conditions. This is because high blood glucose in the long term is linked to damage to your kidneys, eyes, nerves, feet and heart. However, keeping tight control of your blood glucose does increase the risk of hypos.
Having said that, there are lots of steps you can take to reduce the risk of hypos. These include:
- Not skipping or delaying snacks or meals.
- Learning about the right dose of insulin you need for a given amount of carbohydrate.
- Adjusting your insulin if you’re exercising vigorously.
- Avoiding alcohol, and particularly drinking on an empty stomach.
- Speaking to your medical team in advance of situations where your normal eating will be disrupted so you can work together to adjust your insulin dose.
- If you’re taking sulfonylurea tablets and getting symptoms that you think may be hypos, speak with your team. They may be able to change your medication, as there are many alternative treatments for type 2 diabetes that don’t cause hypos.
- Keeping a supply of sugary drink, fruit juice or glucose tablets to hand at all times, so you can treat symptoms early.
- Checking your blood glucose regularly.
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Do Not Drive When You Have Low Blood Sugar
It’s very dangerous. If you’re driving and you have hypoglycemia symptoms, pull off the road, check your blood sugar, and eat a sugary food. Wait at least 15 minutes, check your blood sugar, and repeat these steps if necessary. Eat a protein and carbohydrate source before you drive on.
Be prepared. Keep a sugar source in your car at all times for emergencies.
What Are Clinical Trials For Low Blood Glucose
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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Manage Low Blood Glucose Early
Learn to recognise your early warning signs of having a hypo. Be alert to what these are and test your blood glucose levels if any of these symptoms develop. Also make sure to always carry your emergency treatment with you. Keep it in your bag, at work and at home so you can treat low blood glucose early before it becomes more serious.
Further Tips After A Hypoglycaemic Episode
- Don’t exercise for the rest of the day after a severe hypoglycaemic episode.
- After a severe hypo your blood glucose needs to be checked more often. Checking your blood glucose level more often will help you know if your blood glucose level is dropping again.
- Try and work out why you had the low blood glucose.
- Did you do more exercise or more intense exercise than usual?
- Did you forget that you had taken insulin or diabetes tablets, and take another dose?
- Did you inject into a new area or an area that warmed up with exercise and absorbed more quickly?
- Was there not enough carbohydrate in your last meal?
- Is there a particular time of day that hypoglycaemia occurs for you?
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What Is The Treatment For Serious Hypoglycaemia
A serious low blood glucose level is classified as one you need the help of another person to treat. If the person is conscious and able to eat or drink, treatment is the same as above. Sometimes it can be easier to suck on a teaspoon of jam than chew glucose tablets. If a person has any difficulty swallowing, do not put any food in their mouth.
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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Preventing Low Blood Sugar