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What Can Cause My Blood Sugar To Drop

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What I Learned Tracking My Blood Sugar & Why You Should Too (Levels Health CGM)

For people with type 1 diabetes, maintaining the correct blood glucose level involves balancing how much insulin you inject, the amount of food you eat, and how much energy you burn during exercise.

Hypoglycaemia may occur if you’ve taken your dose of insulin as usual, but your carbohydrate intake is lower than normal or has been used up more quickly. This may happen if you delay or miss a meal or snack, don’t eat enough carbohydrate, or exercise more than usual.

People with diabetes who’ve drunk too much alcohol, or drank alcohol on an empty stomach, can also get hypoglycaemia.

However, it’s not always possible to identify why a particular episode of hypoglycaemia has occurred, and sometimes it happens for no obvious reason.

Why Is Insulin A Factor In Low Blood Sugar

Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to enter the cells from the blood which lowers blood glucose/sugar levels. In people without diabetes, the pancreas knows how much insulin it needs to release in order to lower blood sugar.

But for people with diabetes when deciding themselves how much insulin is needed this is less straightforward. A person can have a good understanding of what the body might need, through calculations.

But there is a great deal to consider, which can be overwhelming sometimes. As a result, errors in calculating insulin can and do occur. Thats why diabetes applications like Hedia, wink, wink exist.

Hedias insulin calculator will take away the worries of figuring it out for yourself. You dont even need to enter your blood sugar readings yourself: they can be added wirelessly with certain NFC or Bluetooth glucose meters to Hedia!

Start to take those worries away by downloading Hedia from the App Store or !

This should all lead to more accurate results. In turn, this means that a rapid drop in blood sugar should be less likely.

But its not only about human errors or miscalculations. Its also about the nature of insulin medication.

Specifically, many people with diabetes nowadays use rapid-acting insulin at mealtimes in order to counteract the rapid rise in blood sugar after eating.

Blood Sugar And Insulin Response

When you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar, or blood glucose level, goes up. When your blood sugar level goes up, it sends signals to your pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin then attaches to the sugar, or glucose, molecules and either carries them into your cells where theyre used for immediate energy or stored in the liver for use later. As insulin carries glucose out of your blood, your blood sugar levels go down. When your blood sugar levels go down, it signals your pancreas to release less insulin.

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Reactive Hypoglycemia Vs Hypoglycemia

Reactive hypoglycemia differs from hypoglycemia in that is a type of non-diabetic hypoglycemia.

Reactive hypoglycemia occurs exclusively after eating food. By contrast, hypoglycemia in people with diabetes is often caused by postponing or skipping meals.

Hypoglycemia in people with diabetes can also occur if they take too much insulin or diabetes medications or if they exercise vigorously without adjusting their medications or eating more food.

Questions Caregivers Should Ask

What causes a drop in blood sugar levels?

As a family member, friend, or caregiver, you want to do your best to keep your loved one, friend, or patient safe from severe hypoglycemia. But knowing whats best can be overwhelming. Here are some questions to help you get started.

  • What are my loved ones/friends/patients chances for severe hypoglycemia?
  • How often should my loved one/friend/patient check their blood glucose?
  • What should I do if there is no change after giving the glucagon?
  • What would be the best food or drink to give my loved one/friend/patient once they wake up?
  • Should I talk with a diabetes educator?
  • How can I help treat their hypoglycemia?

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THESE RESOURCES WERE MADE FROM THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF LILLY DIABETES AND XERIS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.

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How Common Is Low Blood Glucose

Low blood glucose is common among people with type 1 diabetes and among people with type 2 diabetes who take insulin or some other diabetes medicines. In a large global study of people with diabetes who take insulin, 4 in 5 people with type 1 diabetes and nearly half of those with type 2 diabetes reported a low blood sugar event at least once over a 4-week period.2

Severely low blood glucose, defined as when your blood glucose level drops so low you cant treat it yourself, is less common. Among U.S. adults with diabetes who take insulin or some diabetes medicines that help the pancreas release insulin into the blood, 2 in 100 may develop severely low blood glucose each year.3

Upswing: Steroids And Water Pills

People take corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to treat rashes, arthritis, asthma, and many other conditions. But they can boost your blood sugar, and may even trigger diabetes in some people. Diuretics that help high blood pressure, also called water pills, can do the same. Some antidepressants also raise or lower blood sugar.

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What Causes Blood Sugar To Drop Rapidly Apart From Too Much Insulin

Clearly, then, too much insulin is what causes blood sugar to drop rapidly. But theres more to it than simply taking too much insulin.

Skipping meals or eating less than what youre used to will also mean having too much insulin in the body.

In addition, the bodys sensitivity to insulin can change throughout the day. The greater the insulin sensitivity, the less insulin the body will need. If insulin sensitivity has increased, this will often be due to the combination of exercise and diabetes.

These are probably the most common reasons for low blood sugar, as the blog post What Happens when Blood Sugar is low? points out. NHS inform gives some other reasons, such as:

Fasting. Aside from not taking in any carbs for the insulin to displace, fasting can also lead to not having enough nutrients, which can hinder the bodys digestive abilities.

Similarly, illness can impact the bodys response to glucose. Illness will usually increase blood sugar but it depends on what kind of illness and how your body responds to it which can give low blood sugar. Read more on this topic with Diabetes and the Flu.

Meanwhile, sleep itself may not lower blood sugar, but you can still get low blood sugar in the night for the same reasons you would in in the day.

The only difference is that you cant treat it as effectively because youre well asleep. So, do have carbs ready by your bed, just in case. Read more on Diabetes and Sleep.

Possible Causes Without Diabetes

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Hypoglycemia in people without diabetes is much less common. But it can occur and some if the causes can include:

Medication: Taking someone elses oral diabetes medication accidentally is a possible cause of hypoglycemia.

Excessive alcohol drinking: Drinking heavily without having eating can block your liver from releasing glucose into your bloodstream, causing hypoglycemia.

Some critical illnesses: Severe liver illnesses such as severe hepatitis or cirrhosis can cause hypoglycemia.

Long-term starvation, as can occur in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, can result in too little of substances your body needs to create glucose.

Insulin overproduction: A rare tumor of the pancreas, known as insulinoma, can cause you to produce too much insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia.

Hormone deficiencies: Certain adrenal gland and pituitary tumor disorders can result in a deficiency of key hormones that regulate glucose production.

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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

Overdose Of Diabetes Medication

A common cause of hypoglycaemia is taking too much insulin for your current needs. Insulin is a medication that helps control your blood glucose levels. It’s commonly used to treat type 1 diabetes and is also recommended for some people with type 2 diabetes.

A fall in blood glucose levels can also occur after taking too much oral hypoglycaemia medication, such as sulphonylurea, which causes a release of insulin. This medication is often used to lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

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The Blood Sugar Level Regulation Mechanism

When you eat rice, bread, or any other typical food high in carbohydrates, it is digested by the stomach and small intestine, where it is absorbed into the blood as glucose. Figure 1 shows how it is absorbed into the body.

Figure 1: Absorption of glucose

  • 1The sugar in food is absorbed into the blood as glucose.
  • 2The pancreas secretes insulin in reaction to the increase in glucose.
  • 3Because the glucose is absorbed into the liver, muscle, adipose tissue and other cells, the blood sugar level drops to the level it was before anything was eaten. This is the mechanism found in healthy people.
  • When glucose enters the bloodstream, insulin facilitates its uptake into the bodys cells. When an excess of glucose is ingested, insulin over secretion occurs. Insulin increases the biosynthesis of fat and suppresses its breakdown. Thus, it becomes easier for fat to accumulate in body tissues.

    Blood sugar level will not drop if the sugar in the blood is not properly processed due to, for example, too little insulin being secreted, or resistance to the action of insulin. If blood sugar levels have not decreased several hours after eating on a regular basis, this indicates a susceptibility to diabetes. To avoid this and stay healthy, we should eat types of foods that will not cause a sudden, extreme rise in blood sugar levels.

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    What is a healthy blood sugar level

    • Fasting blood sugar level 99mg/dL
    • Postprandial blood sugar level 7.8mmol/L

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    Hypoglycemia Tests And Diagnosis

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    To diagnose nondiabetic hypoglycemia, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about any medicines you take. Theyâll want to know all about your health and any history of diseases or stomach surgery.

    Theyâll check your blood glucose level, especially when you are having symptoms. Theyâll also check to see if you feel better when your sugar goes back to a normal level.

    If your doctor suspects hypoglycemia, you may have to fast until you start to have symptoms. Theyâll test your blood glucose level at different times throughout the fast.

    To check for reactive hypoglycemia, you may have to take a test called a mixed-meal tolerance test . For this, you take a special drink that raises your blood glucose. The doctor will check your blood glucose levels over the next few hours.

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    Artificial Sweeteners May Alter Blood Sugar Response

    Many people with diabetes reach for diet drinks as a substitute for regular soda or juice because they assume that sugar-free beverages won’t raise their blood sugar. But a review published in January 2021 in Frontiers in Nutrition suggested that artificial sweeteners may not be completely neutral after all, and may contribute to impaired glucose homeostasis.

    But the research isn’t definitive most government and medical institutions maintain that most artificial sweeteners have no effect on blood sugar. So what could be going on? Mayo Clinic suggests that people can experience a rebound effect when consuming artificial sugars. They consider the sugar-free food healthy, so end up consuming excessive amounts or eating other carb-filled foods because they think the diet drink lets them afford it. The clinic also notes that some noncaloric sweeteners can cause diarrhea, which can contribute to dehydration.

    “If you drink a lot of diet soda then you might want to cut back and see if it has an impact on your blood glucose,” says Patty Bonsignore, RN, CDCES, a nurse educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Keep things sugar-free by turning to water or seltzer as opposed to regular soda or juice.

    It Can Also Cause A Rapid Rise In Your Blood Sugar

    Drinking alcohol can also trigger a rapid rise in blood sugar. This often occurs when you drink sweet wine or beer, both of which are high in carbohydrates, or cocktails made with sugary mixers, soda, or fruit juice.

    These liquid carbs go quickly into your bloodstream and “you may see that temporary spike in blood sugar followed by a delayed low-blood sugar reaction,” warns Sheth.

    Alcoholic beverages also tend to make us hungry for, well, chips, pizza, pretzels, and other high-carb, blood sugar-raising foods, which may make the rollercoaster rise-and-fall of blood glucose even more pronounced.6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e

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    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.

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    Treating Low Blood Sugar

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    If blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL, it should be treated by consuming food or drink containing 15 grams of carbohydrates.

    Fruit juice and candies are preferred as they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. It doesnt take much juice to get to 15 grams of carbohydrates about one-half cup will suffice.

    Glucose tablets or glucose gels are a popular treatment for low blood sugar because theyre easy to have on hand in all different types of situations.

    They dissolve quickly and provide pure glucose, so the blood sugar rapidly absorbs them to raise blood sugar. They are available over the counter without a prescription, so this is a convenient option for most people.

    For cases of severe hypoglycemia, you can use a glucagon injection. Like insulin, glucagon is a hormone the pancreas produces. However, glucagon has the opposite effect as insulin as it stimulates the breakdown of liver glycogen stores into glucose, which raises blood sugar.

    Medical professionals must prescribe glucagon injections. Theyre especially helpful to use when hypoglycemia is severe, or the person is too unresponsive to take in food or drink to treat the low blood sugar.

    * An unresponsive person should always receive emergency medical treatment.*

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    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.
    • Dont 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. Dont 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 bodys 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 someones 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.

    Is Stress The Source Of Your Blood Sugar Swing

    Right now, COVID-19 stress can feel like a given and if something causes you stress, it can also trigger an increase if your blood sugar level.

    If you have type 2 diabetes, you know that certain foods particularly foods that are high in carbohydrates can send your blood glucose level through the roof. But did you know that theres a long list of other factors, such as too little sleep, illness, even monthly menstrual cycles, that can sabotage your best efforts to stabilize your blood sugar?

    High on that list, though you may not be aware of it, is stress.

    Whether its related to work, to relationships, or to some other aspect of your life, research has continually shown that emotional stress can cause blood sugar to surge, according to the American Diabetes Association . And because consistent management of blood sugar is the key to living a healthy life with type 2 diabetes, its important to understand how stress affects you and to find healthy ways to cope when mental distress mounts.

    Thats especially true right now when the novel coronavirus is top of mind and everyones stress level is sky-high. In addition to heightening health worries, the COVID-19 pandemic comes with immense economic and daily living stressors. Whether youve lost your job, are working from home, helping your kids with e-learning, or quarantined by yourself, its natural to feel stress.

    As if stress werent bad enough on its own, it can contribute to irregular blood-sugar levels.

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