What Causes Low Blood Glucose In People With Diabetes
Low blood glucose levels can be a side effect of insulin or some other medicines that help your pancreas release insulin into your blood. Taking these can lower your blood glucose level.
Two types of diabetes pills can cause low blood glucose
- sulfonylureas, usually taken once or twice per day, which increase insulin over several hours
- meglitinides, taken before meals to promote a short-term increase in insulin
The following may also lower your blood glucose level
It’s Easy To Miss The Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
Dr. Block explains, “Most of the time, people experience symptoms of low sugar, but they may not recognize those symptoms. This can include irritability, anxiety, palpitations, confusion and fatigue. The symptoms are nonspecific, so it is important to have regular meals and snacks with a healthy well-balanced diet. If symptoms do not improve with dietary changes, it is important to check in with your physician to help assess hypoglycemia. They may recommend advanced blood testing, a professional continuous glucose monitor or nutrition counseling.”
Signs Of Hypoglycemia Unawareness
What can be especially troubling about low blood sugar is that, in some cases, there are no outward signs. This type of hypoglycemia is called hypoglycemia unawareness. There is a greater risk with this condition, as you only experience symptoms once blood sugar levels have dropped so low that they cause hypoglycemic shock.
In these cases, monitoring glucose levels regularly is essential, especially if youre planning to drive or engage in physical activity.
Hypoglycemia unawareness is most common in those who:
- Have had diabetes for five to 10 years
- Frequently experience hypoglycemia
- Take beta-blockers for high blood pressure
Don’t Miss: Can Diabetics Eat Sugar Free Popsicles
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.
- Use a continuous glucose monitor or flash monitor to see how your blood sugar levels are changing. Ask your diabetes care team about getting a monitor if you do not already have one.
- 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.
How Can I Prevent Low Blood Glucose
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 glucose, 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 glucose, the lower his or her risk of hypoglycemia. This is because you can see when blood glucose 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.
You May Like: How Much Sugar Does Beer Have In It
What Is The Fastest Way To Lower Blood Sugar
When your blood sugar level gets too high known as hyperglycemia or high blood glucose the quickest way to reduce it is to take fast-acting insulin. Exercising is another fast, effective way to lower blood sugar.Eat a consistent diet
- A very dry mouth.
Can a diabetic have high blood sugar at night?
With the many factors that can affect your glucose levels, nighttime can be a challenge. Some people with diabetes experience high overnight levels while others fear or experience a glucose drop during sleep.
Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
With hypoglycemia, the blood sugar falls below the normal, healthy levels mentioned earlier, which can occur for a variety of reasons.
“Although some people with blood sugar problems may not experience symptoms,” Dr. Aldasouqi continued, “there are some key things to look out for. For those with low blood sugar, someone might have symptoms like anxiety, sweating, increased heart rate, confusion, and may go into what is called ‘a hypoglycemic coma’… The term ‘diabetic coma’ is also used by some.”
Other symptoms of low blood sugar may include:
- Tingling or numb lips, tongue or cheek
Recommended Reading: How To Permanently Get Rid Of Sugar Ants
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 .
How We Care For Hypoglycemia
At Boston Childrens Hospital, we treat hypoglycemia in our General Endocrinology Program, a multi-disciplinary program dedicated to the treatment of a wide range of endocrinological disorders. Caring for more than 7,000 patients each year, our division is one of the largest pediatric endocrinology practices in the country. We provide state-of-the-art diagnosis, treatment, and clinical management for children with hypoglycemia and related disorders.
You May Like: What Sugar Level Is Prediabetes
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:
Preventing Low Blood Sugar Levels
Here are some other tips to help you avoid low blood sugar levels:
- Eat all your meals and snacks on time and try not to skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
- Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly, so you can tell if your blood sugars are running too low and your treatment plan needs adjustment.
- Carry something containing sugar with you at all times and take it right away if you have symptoms. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away they may get worse!
Alcohol and drugs can cause major problems with your blood sugar levels, so avoiding them is another way to prevent diabetes problems. Drinking can be particularly dangerous even deadly for people with diabetes because it messes up the body’s ability to keep blood glucose in a normal range. This can cause a very rapid drop in blood glucose in people with diabetes. Drug or alcohol use is also dangerous because it may affect someone’s ability to sense low blood sugar levels.
Learning how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar levels and get them back to normal is an important part of caring for diabetes. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels and recording lows when they occur will help you and your diabetes health care team keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
Recommended Reading: How To Make Sugar Cookies At Home
Tingling Numbness Or Pain In The Hands Or Feet
High blood sugar levels can affect blood circulation and damage the bodys nerves. In people with type 2 diabetes, this can lead to pain or a sensation of tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. This condition is known as neuropathy, and it can worsen over time and lead to more serious complications if a person does not get treatment for their diabetes.
Recommended Reading: Can Blood Sugar Cause Dizziness
What Can Cause Low Blood Sugar Levels
Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely are:
- skipping meals and snacks
- not eating enough food during a meal or snack
- exercising longer or harder than usual without eating some extra food
- getting too much insulin
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
Also, some things may increase how quickly insulin gets absorbed into the bloodstream and can make hypoglycemia more likely. These include:
- taking a hot shower or bath right after having an insulin injection increases blood flow through the blood vessels in the skin, which can make the insulin be absorbed more quickly than usual
- injecting the shot into a muscle instead of the fatty layer under the skin
- injecting the insulin into a part of the body used a lot in a particular sport .
All of these situations increase the chances that a person may get hypoglycemia.
Recommended Reading: What To Eat To Keep Sugar Level Down
Treating Mild To Moderate Hypoglycemia
If you start feeling any of the symptoms listed above, check your blood sugar as soon as possible, then follow the chart below to treat low blood sugar. If you have any concerns, or cant test immediately, its best to treat first and check when possible.
If your blood sugar is
Recommended Reading: How To Monitor Sugar Level
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:
Don’t Miss: Do I Have Low Blood Sugar Test
Dont Drive When You Have Low Blood Sugar
It’s 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 needed. Eat a protein and carbohydrate source before you drive on. Be prepared. Keep a sugar source, such as glucose tablets, in your car at all times for emergencies.
What Is Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose, also called low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops below what is healthy for you. For many people with diabetes, this means a blood glucose reading lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter .1 Your number might be different, so check with your doctor or health care team to find out what blood glucose level is low for you.
You May Like: What Happens When Your Blood Sugar Level Gets Too Low
What To Know About Blood Sugar
Dr. Block tells us, “Blood sugar is what your body uses to process and produce energy. It is important to include healthy carbs in your diet like veggies, fruits and dairy to provide fuel to your body. Low blood sugar and skipping meals can cause fatigue.” McDermott says, “When we discuss blood sugar, we are talking about glucose in the bloodstream. This glucose is an energy source for our body. Insulin helps get the glucose into our cells to be able to be used for our daily activities, from using your brain at work to running after the dog. Increases and decreases of blood sugar throughout the day is essential for optimal functioning. Glucose fuels your brain and your muscles. We just want to keep blood sugars within a healthy range, both on the higher and the lower ends.”
What Is Hypoglycemia And Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia is the state of having a blood glucose level that is too low to effectively fuel the body’s cells.
Glucose, which comes from carbohydrates found in foods, is a main source of energy for all of the cells of the body and, especially, the brain. While the body is quite good at extracting glucose from the foods we eat, it relies on a hormone called insulin to actually get the glucose inside the cells of specific organs: the liver, fat, and muscle.
We can think of insulin as holding the key to a cell without insulin, the glucose just remains in the blood, where its also known as blood sugar. During an episode of hypoglycemia, theres not enough glucose in the blood. The normal range is approximately 70 to 150 mg/dl .
Hypoglycemia is most common in newborns. In older children, its most often seen as a complication of insulin therapy for diabetes but can sometimes have other causes as well.
In the majority of cases, hypoglycemia is temporary, easily treated, and usually does not have serious consequences. There are several rare disorders in which hypoglycemia is recurrent and potentially life-threatening. However, with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, these can be effectively managed.
Also Check: How Much Sugar In Maker’s Mark
What Are The Complications Of Low Blood Glucose
Mild-to-moderate low blood glucose can be easily treated. But severely low blood glucose can cause serious complications, including passing out, coma, or death.
Repeated episodes of low blood glucose can lead to
- high blood glucose levels, if worry or fear of low blood glucose keeps you from taking the medicines you need to manage your diabetes8
- hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition in which you dont notice any symptoms of low blood glucose until your blood glucose level has dropped very low
What Is Normal Blood Sugar
When we eat, glucose — which is our body’s main source of energy — enters our bloodstream from our food. Then our pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin in just the right amount to help the glucose go from the bloodstream to our body’s various cells to be used as energy. This process usually keeps the glucose in our bloodstream in a healthy range, being neither too high, nor too low.
This range is measured in milligrams of blood glucose per deciliter, or mg/dL. Dr. Saleh Aldasouqi, Chief of Endocrinology at Michigan State University, explains to CNET: “Normal blood sugar is defined as anywhere from 70 to 110 mg/dL within a healthy physiology, as a person without diabetes or other related diagnosed condition. Sugar below 70 is generally considered low, and above 110 is considered high .”
Read Also: What To Eat To Keep Blood Sugar Low
Signs That Blood Sugar Levels Are Low
There are a bunch of symptoms that someone with low blood sugar might have. Its 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 youre trembling
- have a rapid heart rate
- feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
- have pale, gray skin color
- have a headache
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.
Listen To Your Doctor
If you follow a meal plan or take medications that increase insulin to manage low blood sugar, its important to stick to the plan your doctor prescribed to help prevent drops in your blood sugar level.
Not eating the right foods or taking the right medications at the correct times can cause your blood sugar to drop. Check in often with your doctor so they can adjust your treatment plan if and when necessary.
Recommended Reading: Can Low Sugar Cause Migraines