If A Person Is Unconscious
If a person loses consciousness because of severe hypoglycaemia, they need to be put into the recovery position and given an injection of the hormone glucagon . The injection will raise their blood glucose level.
The injection should be carried out by a friend or family member who knows what theyre doing, or by a trained healthcare professional.
You should dial 999 to request an ambulance if:
- a glucagon injection kit isnt available
- theres nobody available whos trained to give the injection
- the injection is ineffective after 10 minutes
Never try to put food or drink into the mouth of someone whos unconscious as they could choke.
If youre able to give a glucagon injection and the person regains consciousness, they should eat some longer-acting carbohydrate food, such as a few biscuits, a cereal bar or a sandwich.
You should continue to monitor the person for signs of recurring symptoms in case they need to be treated again.
How Can I Help My Child Live With Hypoglycemia
Children with type 1 diabetes or other conditions that may cause hypoglycemia need to follow their care plan. Its important to test blood glucose often, recognize symptoms, and treat the condition quickly. It’s also important to take medicines and eat meals on a regular schedule.
Work with your child’s healthcare provider to create a plan that fits your child’s schedule and activities. Teach your child about diabetes. Encourage them to write down questions they have about diabetes and bring them to healthcare provider appointments. Give them time to ask the provider the questions. Check that the answers are given in a way your child can understand. Work closely with school nurses, teachers, and psychologists to develop a plan that’s right for your child.
How Does High Blood Sugar Affect The Body
High sugar in the blood can lead to several other symptoms and complications. They include:
- Urination and thirst: High blood sugar goes into the kidneys and urine. This attracts more water, causing frequent urination. This can also lead to increased thirst, even if someone drinks liquids.
- Weight loss: High blood sugar can cause sudden or unexplained weight loss. This occurs because the bodys cells are not getting the glucose they need, so the body burns muscle and fat for energy instead.
- Numbness and tingling: High blood sugar numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands, legs, and feet. This is due to diabetic neuropathy, a complication of diabetes that often occurs after many years of high blood sugar levels.
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How To Test Your Blood Sugar At Home
To perform a blood sugar test, you will need to prick your finger with a lancet . Youll put a small sample of blood from this onto a strip inserted into the blood glucose meter.
Before you test your blood sugar at home, its important to find out from your doctor what a healthy blood sugar range is for you. Your doctor will determine this range based on factors such as:
- the type of diabetes you have
- how long youve had diabetes
- whether you have any other chronic health conditions
If you dont have a blood sugar testing machine on hand and are experiencing signs or symptoms of low blood sugar with diabetes, your symptoms may be enough to diagnose low blood sugar.
How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed In A Child
The healthcare provider will ask about your childs symptoms and health history. He or she may also ask about your familys health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. Your child may also have blood tests to check blood sugar levels.
When a child with diabetes has symptoms of hypoglycemia, the cause is most often an insulin reaction.
For children with symptoms of hypoglycemia who dont have diabetes, the healthcare provider may:
Measure levels of blood sugar and different hormones while the child has symptoms
See if symptoms are relieved when the child eats food or sugar
Do tests to measure insulin action
Your child may need to do a supervised fasting study in the hospital. This lets healthcare providers test for hypoglycemia safely.
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Can You Have Hypoglycemia Without Having Diabetes
If you dont have diabetes, hypoglycemia can happen when you dont have enough sugar in your blood or if your body cant stabilize your blood sugar level. This occurs when your level drops below 70 milligrams per deciliter .
Low blood sugar means your body doesnt have enough energy to properly function or carry out its activities.
The underlying cause of nondiabetic hypoglycemia varies. Sometimes its due to an imbalanced or unhealthy diet.
You receive glucose from food. Therefore, you might experience a drop in blood sugar after going several hours without food or if you dont eat before a workout. In both cases, eating can help stabilize your blood sugar.
On the other hand, ongoing problems with nondiabetic hypoglycemia might indicate a decrease in insulin production. This may be related to issues with your:
Hypoglycemia in people who dont have diabetes is less common than hypoglycemia that occurs in people who have diabetes or related conditions.
Although rare, a tumor of the pancreas can cause the body to make too much insulin or an insulin-like substance, resulting in hypoglycemia. Hormone deficiencies can also cause hypoglycemia because hormones control blood sugar levels.
How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed
If you suspect you have low blood sugar, its important to check your blood sugar right away. If you dont have a blood glucose meter and youre on diabetes medications that increase insulin, talk with your doctor about getting a meter.
If you experience low blood sugar often say, a few times a week see your doctor right away to find out why. Your doctor will begin your visit by requesting your medical history, asking questions about your eating habits, and learning more about the symptoms youre experiencing.
If you dont have diabetes but suspect you have hypoglycemia, talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor will use three criteria, sometimes referred to as Whipples triad, to diagnose low blood sugar:
- Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor may require you to fast, or abstain from drinking and eating for an extended period of time, so they can observe your low blood sugar signs and symptoms.
- Documentation of low blood sugar when your signs and symptoms occur. Your doctor will order a blood test to analyze your blood sugar levels in a laboratory.
- Disappearance of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will want to know whether the signs and symptoms go away when your blood sugar levels are raised.
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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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Possible Causes With Diabetes
Diabetes affects your bodys ability to use insulin. Think of insulin as the key that unlocks your cells, letting in glucose for energy.
If you have diabetes, a variety of treatments can help the cells in your body use the glucose in your blood. Among these are insulin injections and oral medications that increase insulin production.
If you take too much of these types of medications, your blood sugar may drop too low. You may also sometimes experience low blood sugar if you plan to eat a big meal but then do not eat enough.
Skipping meals, eating less than usual, or eating later than usual but taking your medication at your usual time can also lead to low blood sugar levels.
Unplanned excess physical activity without eating enough can also cause a drop in blood sugar levels.
Drinking alcohol when youre on these medications can also lead to low blood sugar, especially if it replaces food. When your body is trying to get rid of alcohol, it becomes worse at managing blood sugar levels.
What Can Cause False Low Blood Sugar Readings
You might sometimes develop low blood sugar symptoms when your blood sugar levels are normal. False low blood sugar is more common among people newly diagnosed with diabetes and beginning treatment.
If your blood sugar was usually around 300 mg/dL and it lowers to 150 mg/dL, you might feel symptoms of low blood sugar even though 150 mg/dL is actually still slightly high.
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What Should I Do If My Blood Sugar Is Low Right Before A Meal
- Take quick-acting carbohydrate.
- Wait 5 minutes so your blood sugar starts to come up.
- If you are feeling better, take your insulin dose to cover the carbohydrate you will eat.
- Do not take extra insulin to cover the quick-acting carbohydrate you took for your low blood sugar.
Slurred Speech And Clumsiness
Your sugar-starved brain may change the way you sound. Slurred speech is a common symptom associated with blood sugar levels that drop below 40 mg/dL, according to University of Michigan Health Systems. Combined with clumsiness another sign of low blood sugar you may seem as though you’ve had a few too many cocktails, even if you haven’t touched a drop, according to the National Health Service.
For more on managing low blood sugar, check out Diabetes Daily’s article “How to Treat Lows Without Sabotaging Your Diet!“
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What Causes Hypoglycemia In A Child
Hypoglycemia can be a condition by itself. Or it can be a complication of diabetes or other disorder. Its most often a problem in someone with diabetes. It occurs when theres too much insulin. This is also called an insulin reaction.
Causes in children with diabetes may include:
Too much insulin or oral diabetes medicine
The wrong kind of insulin
Incorrect blood-glucose readings
Tingling feelings around the mouth
Nightmares and confusion on awakening
The symptoms of hypoglycemia can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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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What Else Can You Do To Control Blood Sugar Levels
People with diabetes should wear identification stating they have diabetes and whether they have recurrent low blood sugar. Those at risk for the health condition should be counseled on checking blood sugars before they drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or do anything physically taxing.
In addition, it is important to carry a quick-acting glucose source at all times, and keep a source in their car, office, and by their bedside. Efforts should be made to minimize the hypoglycemic effects of drug regimens and to avoid variable surges in exercise, activity, and drinking alcohol.
Treating Low Blood Sugar
If you think youre experiencing low blood sugar, you should consult your healthcare provider and obtain a glucometer or glucose meter, a machine that measures your blood sugar levels with a small drop of blood.
Testing your blood sugar when youre experiencing symptoms is the most accurate way to determine if youre experiencing low blood sugar and, if so, how severe it is.
If your blood sugar is less than 70 mg/dL and you have symptoms of low blood sugar, you should treat it as soon as possible.
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What Causes Low Blood Sugar
Despite advances in the treatment of diabetes, low blood sugar episodes occur as a side effect of many treatments for diabetes. In fact, these episodes are often the limiting factor in achieving optimal blood sugar control, because many medications that are effective in treating diabetes carry the risk of lowering the blood sugar level too much, causing symptoms.
In large scale studies looking at tight control in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, low blood sugars occurred more often in the patients who were managed most intensively. This is important for patients and physicians to recognize, especially as the goal for treating patients with diabetes becomes tighter control of blood sugar.
While people who do not have any metabolic problems can complain of symptoms that resemble low blood sugar, true hypoglycemia usually occurs in people with diabetes mellitus . People with pre-diabetes or insulin resistance also can have low blood sugars on occasion if their high circulating insulin levels are further challenged by a prolonged period of fasting. There are other rare causes for the condition, such as insulin-producing tumors and certain medications.
These uncommon causes of hypoglycemia will not be discussed in this article, which will primarily focus on the condition occurring with type 1 or 2 diabetes and its treatment.
Make Sure You Have A Glucagon Kit
For the very worst lows when youre unconscious or when youre sick and you cant keep food down a glucagon kit can save your life. If you dont have one, or the one you have is expired, ask your doctor for a new prescription. Keep it in somewhere in your house or at work or in your gym bag, and make sure others know where it is and how to use it!
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What Are Treatments For Type 2 Diabetes
Unless its absolutely necessary, insulin should not be used to treat type 2 diabetes. Dr. Bergquist explains, Injecting insulin improves blood sugar but worsens underlying insulin resistance. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Higher insulin leads to more fat storage in organs where its toxic, making them more insulin resistant.
Insulin should only be used when the pancreas fails and the B cells cannot be regenerated, says Dr. Apovian. When type 2 diabetes is caught early enough, you can reverse it with lifestyle, medication, and bariatric surgery. In certain cases, when a person is severely overweight, bariatric surgery is a successful treatment for type 2 diabetes, because it effectively decreases a persons body weight set point and can reverse hormonal imbalances that underlie obesity and fuel type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, new type 2 diabetes medications have been approved by the FDA, including a class of drugs known as glucagon-like-peptides , which aid the pancreas in producing more insulin by decreasing glucose production in the liver. Researchers are also working to understand the role that inflammation and hormonal imbalances have in the development of T2D.
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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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