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.
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
When To See A Healthcare Provider
Getting professional medical advice from a healthcare provider like an endocrinologist is the best way to learn more about whether your blood sugar levels are where they should be. Not getting proper treatment for low or high blood sugar levels can be serious and lead to health complications, especially for those with diabetes. Diabetes complications include nerve damage, kidney disease, heart disease, or heart attacks.
If you see a healthcare provider about your blood sugar levels, be prepared to answer questions about risk factors like what you eat, how much you exercise, and about your family history. Some healthcare providers may want to take a blood sample to test your blood sugar levels. They may also order an A1C test, which is a blood test that measures blood sugar levels over several months. You may have to fast eight hours beforehand to get accurate test results, so its always a good idea to check before your appointment.
If your blood sugar level goes above 250 mg/dL, you should go to the ER for immediate medical attention, says Dr. Tarugu. Emergency rooms are equipped to handle high blood sugar levels and can administer treatments like insulin therapy and fluid or electrolyte replacement.
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Causes Of Low Blood Sugar
There are many reasons why you may have low blood sugar, including:
- Taking too much insulin.
- Not eating enough carbs for how much insulin you take.
- Timing of when you take your insulin.
- The amount and timing of physical activity.
- Drinking alcohol.
- How much fat, protein, and fiber are in your meal.
- Hot and humid weather.
- Unexpected changes in your schedule.
- Spending time at a high altitude.
- Going through puberty.
What Are Risk Factors For Hyperglycemia
Major risk factors for hyperglycemia are:
- You have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
- You are African American, Native American, Hispanic or Asian American.
- You are overweight.
- You have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
- You have polycystic ovarian syndrome .
- You have a history of gestational diabetes.
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Complications Of High Blood Sugar
Diabetes is one of the main causes of high blood sugar levels, but there are other causes that can impact your blood glucose and your risk for hyperglycemia.
Hyperglycemia is the medical term for high blood sugar levels. You can have temporary spikes in blood sugar after eating a large meal or as a result of medication side effects. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels are dangerous and common in those with diabetes. Without treatment, you run the risk of a diabetic coma.
Ketoacidosis is a condition that develops when elevated blood glucose levels go untreated. Without glucose to use for fuel, your body begins to burn fat instead and produces ketones. When there are too many ketones in the blood, it will turn acidic, which can very quickly lead to ketoacidosis, a diabetic coma, and even death.
People without diabetes can develop a similar condition known as ketosis, but they can tolerate a certain level of ketones because inulin is still effectively working.
Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome is another serious complication of high blood sugar. This is more common among individuals with type 2 diabetes and is triggered by an infection or illness.
As a result of the high blood sugar, your body tries to push out the excess glucose by passing it through your urine. Without treatment, this can result in life-threatening dehydration so prompt medical attention would be necessary.
How To Calculate Your Blood Sugar Level: The Complete Guide
To get an accurate reading of your blood sugar level, the best and most effective method is using a glucose meter. This will involve a small prick in your finger so receive a blood sample. The strip is then inserted into the meter and tested.
You may be wondering what your reading should be. There is no normal reading, an ideal reading differs from person to person. Everyone will get different readings at different times of the day. However, there is a rough range to determining a low, normal and high blood sugar level. Blood sugar level is read in mmol/L, which stands for millimoles per liter. Here is a guide as to what an ideal reading is for each diabetic type and non-diabetic patients:
|4 5.9 mmol/L< 7.8 mmol/L||4 5.9 mmol/L< 7.8 mmol/L|
It is advised to check it regularly if you are concerned, show regular symptoms or have diabetes. You should check before meals, exercise, before bedtime and after driving. Everyone is different so it is best to ask your doctor if you are unsure how many times and when you should check your blood sugar levels.
Research shows that over 50% who try to estimate their blood sugar level reading are incorrect. This may be due to over underlying medical conditions that did not know they had or poor lack of judgement. Therefore, this suggests it is very important to test at home to check in on your levels regularly to avoid any unnecessary future complications.
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You Have Noticeably Blurry Vision And Frequent Headaches
You may notice that your vision isnt as clear as it used to be and that things may appear a bit blurry. High blood sugar levels can lead to swollen lenses in your eye from fluid leaking in, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. This changes the shape of the lens, which makes it unable to properly focus, causing blurred vision. You may also find yourself struggling at work, having difficulty driving, and suffering from frequent headaches, Emanuele notes.
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Target Blood Sugar Ranges For Pregnant People With Diabetes
Blood sugar targets during pregnancy are lower due to hormonal influences. The ADA, AACE, and Joslin Diabetes Center have slightly different guidelines for target blood sugar levels during pregnancy. In general, pregnant women with diabetes will want to follow individual guidelines provided by their endocrinologist.
The ADA recommends maintaining blood sugar levels of 95-140 mg/dL for pregnant women. However, some providers recommend an even tighter goal of blood glucose levels below 89 mg/dL before a meal and below 120 mg/dL after a meal.
To keep close tabs on levels, most diabetes specialists recommend that women with diabetes during pregnancy check their blood sugar:
- First thing in the morning
- Before all meals
What To Know About Diabetic Macular Edema
Fiber plays a preventative role, too. Studies have found that high-fiber diets can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 15 to 19 percent compared to low-fiber diets, according to a March 2018 study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine.
Youll find fiber in plant foods such as raspberries, peas, and whole grains, according to the Mayo Clinic. Beans are another good source of fiber. People with type 2 diabetes who ate at least a cup of legumes daily for three months had lower blood glucose levels as measured by the A1C test, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Beans also are an excellent source of folate, which is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a common diabetes complication, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Men should aim for 30 to 38 g of fiber per day, and women should eat 21 to 25 g per day, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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How To Prevent It
If you work to keep your blood sugar under control — follow your meal plan, exercise program, and medicine schedule — you shouldnât have to worry about hyperglycemia. You can also:
- Know your diet — count the total amounts of carbs in each meal and snack.
- Test your blood sugar regularly.
- Tell your doctor if you have repeated abnormal blood sugar readings.
- Wear medical identification to let people know you have diabetes in case of an emergency.
High And Low Blood Sugar Levels Monitoring
Blood sugar management can get difficult at times. Keeping a glucometer will prove beneficial for blood sugar monitoring and controlling diabetes better. Aglucometeris a device that helps you take a sugar reading comfortably, from wherever you are. The ones which connect via a smart app allow you to share readings with your doctor and also help keep track of your past readings.
For the right advice, you should always consult your health coach. They give you advice based on your age, lifestyle and medication. They are especially helpful during an emergency.
It is only when you know whether your sugar level is high, low or in the controlled range that you will be able to optimise your diet and lifestyle.
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Treating Low Blood Sugar
You are at risk of having a low blood sugar reaction if you:
- Skip or delay a meal or snack
- Take too much insulin or eat too few carbohydrates
- Drink alcohol, especially without eating carbohydrates
Check your blood sugar if you have any of these symptoms:
- Weakness and/or fatigue
If your blood sugar is less than 70 milligrams per deciliter :
- Eat 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate
- Wait 15 minutes and then recheck your blood sugar
- If your blood sugar is still less than 100 mg/dl, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate and retest your blood sugar in another 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
Important: If you have frequent low blood sugars speak to your doctor. You may need changes in your medication and/or meal plan.
Youre Getting Yeast Infections More Often Than Usual
Hyperglycemia may lead you to get more frequent genital yeast infections. The culprit is often a type of yeast known as Candida albicans, per the ADA. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in females the symptoms can include: vaginal itching, redness or soreness pain during sexual intercourse pain or discomfort during urination and thick, abnormal vaginal discharge. While yeast infections are common in people who dont have diabetes, having more glucose in your blood puts you at higher risk of getting them. The yeast feeds off the glucose, and if your blood sugar is high theres more glucose in the urinary tract, explains Bandukwala. Uncircumcised men with hyperglycemia are also at risk, he says.
Were also seeing this happen a little more now with patients who take SGLT-2 inhibitors, which force the body to expel more glucose through the urine, the endocrinologist adds. The FDA has added a warning to the prescribing information for SGLT-2 inhibitors about a far more rare and potentially fatal genital condition, known as necrotizing fasciitis of the perineum, or Fourniers gangrene .
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What Is Blood Sugar
When you eat, the carbohydrate in your food is broken down into a usable form of energy called glucose. Glucose also known as sugar enters the bloodstream and a hormone called insulin helps move it into our cells.
This process lowers the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. When this process works efficiently, your muscles and organs have the fuel they need without there being too much glucose remaining in the blood.
Possible Causes Without Diabetes
Even if you dont have diabetes, you may experience low blood sugar. However, hypoglycemia is much less common in people without diabetes.
Some possible causes of low blood sugar in people who dont have diabetes are:
- certain medications, such as quinine
- some medical conditions, such as hepatitis and kidney disorders
- a tumor that produces excess insulin
- endocrine disorders, such as adrenal gland deficiency
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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.
What Are Target Blood Sugar Levels For People With Diabetes
A target is something that you aim for or try to reach. Your health care team may also use the term goal. People with diabetes have blood sugar targets that they try to reach at different times of the day. These targets are:
- Right before your meal: 80 to 130
- Two hours after the start of the meal: Below 180
Talk with your health care team about what blood sugar numbers are right for you.
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Does Not Having Symptoms Mean Diabetes Is Being Managed Well
Blood sugar control is crucial when youre living with type 2 diabetes. Dips and spikes can not only make you feel cranky and sluggish, but they can also wreak havoc on your personal health.
For the record, the American Diabetes Association notes that you have diabetes if one of the following applies to you:
- Your blood glucose after fasting is 126 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
- Your blood glucose two hours after eating a meal is 200 mg/dl or higher.
- Your hemoglobin A1C is 6.5 or higher.
The tricky part is that with type 2 diabetes you may not feel it when blood sugar levels are too high, according to the ADA. It feels different for everyone. Not everyone will have the same symptoms, and some individuals will have no symptoms at all, says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, a Los Angelesbased former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Because blood sugar management is so important to your overall health with type 2 diabetes, you need to take action if you think your levels may be out of control, even if youre feeling totally fine.
High Blood Sugar: Hidden Dangers
In the short term, high blood sugar levels can zap your energy, cause excessive thirst and urination, and blur your vision. High blood sugar levels can also lead to dehydration, dry and itchy skin, and infections. Minimizing the time spent above your target blood sugar range can help you feel your best and will help prevent complications and injury to your body.
Over time, high blood sugar affects many parts of the body. Chronic high blood sugar can start to cause noticeable changes, including:
- Memory problems
- Vision problems like blurriness, diabetic retinopathy, and blindness
- Gum disease that leads to tooth loss, which can make eating healthy foods difficult due to problems chewing
- Heart attack and stroke due to increased plaque build-up in the vessels and other vascular issues
- Kidney disease, which can lead to the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant
- Nerve damage that can cause decreased sensation in the feet and legs which increases the risk for wounds to turn into serious infections and even amputation
Nerve damage from high blood sugar can also cause a variety of symptoms including:
- Pain and tingling in the feet and hands
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
- Problems during the digestion process after eating, which can cause food to sit in the stomach too long and lead to nausea, vomiting, and erratic blood sugar levels
Checking your blood sugar frequently and taking immediate action when it is above range can reduce your risk of complications.
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