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.
Techniques To Manage Your Blood Sugar In The Morning
Based on your glucose levels and trends, there are a few things you can do to manage your glucose levels so they dont run high in the morning. Some of these strategies focus on adjusting medications to better suit your needs. Other strategies include adjusting your exercise routine, as well as what and when you are eating before bed.
If your glucose levels are in range before bed, they may rise throughout the night without enough insulin. This can be especially true for people who take long-acting insulin in the morning, since it may be wearing off before your next dose.
Consider changing the time of day when you take your long-acting insulin. You may also benefit from switching to either twice-daily basal insulin or ultra-long-acting insulin, or from starting on an insulin pump. Read our article, Are You on the Right Kind of Insulin, to learn more.
Check your blood glucose during the night between 3 am and 8 am. If you are running high during these hours, you may be experiencing the dawn phenomenon.
Talk with your healthcare team about finding the best nighttime insulin regimen for you. If you take basal insulin, you may need to delay the timing of your dose to as close to bedtime as possible. Another option is to try an insulin pump or automated insulin delivery system. AID systems will automatically adjust your basal insulin doses throughout the night to help keep your glucose levels stable.
How Do You Feel When Your Blood Sugar Is Too High
The symptoms can be subtle the increase in thirst, or more frequent urination. So many people do not even realize that they need to lower your blood sugar level. If you dont, you are at a greater risk of developing diabetes. It can take up to 12 years for diabetes to develop. Evidence shows the ability to reverse diabetes is greater when a healthy lifestyle is emphasized early.
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Keep An Eye On Your Carb Intake
Paying attention to carbohydrates is important for people with type 2 diabetes. Carbs are what cause your blood sugars to potentially fluctuate, Crandall Snyder says.
How many carbs per meal is ideal? Its tailored to each individual, says Weisenberger. How much you exercise, your weight, and your age can all affect how long sugars stay in your system, according to the CDC. A typical starting point for people with diabetes is to limit carb intake to 200 to 245 grams per day, which amounts to about one-half of your daily calories coming from carbs, according to the CDC. From there, make adjustments according to your blood glucose readings or as recommended by a dietitian, Crandall Snyder says.
And keep in mind that carbs arent only found in the usual culprits, like bread, potatoes, and pasta. They are also in fruits, vegetables, sweets, and dairy, so you have to take all of those into consideration as well, Crandall Snyder says.
Eat The Right Carbohydrates
Sugars and starches raise blood sugar levels, but fiber does not cause a blood sugar spike, as the body is unable to absorb and break down this type of carb. As such, people may consider including carbs that are richer in fiber in their diet.
People may also refer to sugars and starches as simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs primarily consist of one type of sugar. The body breaks these carbohydrates down very quickly, which causes blood sugar to rise rapidly. Complex carbohydrates consist of three or more sugars that are linked together. They result in a more gradual release of sugar into the body, meaning that blood sugar levels do not rise rapidly after a person eats them.
Some people may use the glycemic index to help them monitor how much sugar and carbohydrate they eat, which will, in turn, help them manage their blood sugar levels. The GI measures and ranks various foods by how much they cause blood sugar levels to rise.
Evidence notes a link between obesity and type 2 diabetes. Research also highlights the relationship between obesity and insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for allowing glucose in the blood to enter cells. Losing 510% of body weight can help those with excess weight improve their blood sugar levels.
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Stick To Your Medication And Insulin Regimen
Skipping a dose of medication or insulin can be harmful to your body and increase your blood sugar levels.
Its important to stick to your treatment plan and follow your doctors instructions for taking your medication.
Healthful lifestyle habits can help people manage their blood sugar levels over the long term, such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, staying hydrated, and getting good sleep.
Blood Sugar And Exercise
There are a few ways that exercise lowers blood sugar:
- Insulin sensitivity is increased, so your muscle cells are better able to use any available insulin to take up glucose during and after activity.
- When your muscles contract during activity, your cells are able to take up glucose and use it for energy whether insulin is available or not.
This is how exercise can help lower blood sugar in the short term. And when you are active on a regular basis, it can also lower your A1C.
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Easy Ways To Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally
High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, is associated with diabetes and prediabetes. Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
Your body usually manages your blood sugar levels by producing insulin, a hormone that allows your cells to use the circulating sugar in your blood. As such, insulin is the most important regulator of blood sugar levels .
However, multiple factors can impair blood sugar management and lead to hyperglycemia.
Internal causes for high blood sugar include when your liver produces too much glucose, your body makes too little insulin, or your body cant effectively use insulin. The latter is known as insulin resistance (
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 13% of U.S. adults live with diabetes and that another 34.5% have prediabetes. This means that close to 50% of all U.S. adults have diabetes or prediabetes .
Blood sugar management is especially important for people with diabetes, as chronically high blood sugar levels can lead to limb and life threatening complications (
Increased insulin sensitivity means your cells can more effectively use the available sugar in your bloodstream.
Exercise also helps your muscles use blood sugar for energy and muscle contraction .
Whats more, researchers recommend doing so-called exercise snacks to lower blood sugar and prevent the damage that sitting all day can do .
Use Your Plate As A Portion Guide
If measuring or weighing food isnt appealing, try using your plate or bowl as a portion control guide.
This can help you determine the optimal macronutrient ratio for a well-balanced meal.
A rough guide for each meal is:
- Vegetables or salad: Half a plate
- High-quality protein: Quarter of a plate this includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans and pulses
- as whole grains and starchy vegetables
- High-fat foods: Half a tablespoon including cheese, oils and butter
Remember that this is a rough guide, as people have different dietary needs. For example, those who are more physically active often require more food.
As vegetables and salad are naturally low in calories but high in fiber and other nutrients, filling up on these may help you avoid overeating calorie-dense foods.
If you want extra guidance, some manufacturers sell portion-control plates.
Summary Using a plate as a guide for portion control can help you curb total food intake. You can divide your plate into sections based on different food groups.
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Glycemic Index And Glycemic Load
When it comes to assessing foods based on how they increase your blood sugar, there is a tool for that called the glycemic index. The glycemic index assigns a number value to foods based on how quickly and how high they raise your blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index increase blood sugar quickly.
Glycemic load accounts for both the glycemic index and the quantity of carbohydrates in a serving. While it is generally best to eat low-glycemic foods to manage blood sugar, glycemic load might be a better indicator when making food choices. For example, while watermelon is considered a high-glycemic food, it is low on glycemic load.
Hypoglycemia And Physical Activity
People taking insulin or insulin secretagogues are at risk for hypoglycemia if insulin dose or carbohydrate intake is not adjusted with exercise. Checking your blood sugar before doing any physical activity is important to prevent hypoglycemia . Talk to your diabetes care team to find out if you are at risk for hypoglycemia.
If you experience hypoglycemia during or after exercise, treat it immediately:
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When To Seek Medical Attention In An Emergency
For people with type 1 diabetes, untreated high blood sugar can lead to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA.
When there is no insulin and glucose can’t get into cells, your body starts breaking down fat into a fuel called ketones. If ketones build up in your blood, it becomes dangerously acidic. DKA can cause very serious health complications such as fluid building up in the brain, kidney failure, and cardiac arrest.
If your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dL, you should check your urine for ketones, a sign you may be at risk for DKA. You can do this with an at home test, but you also should contact your doctor. If there are ketones in your urine, you should go to the emergency room. Other symptoms of DKA include:
- Increased respiratory rate, or trouble breathing
- Breath that smells fruity
- Nausea and vomiting
- A very dry mouth
In rare occasions, DKA can occur in people with type 2 diabetes, but the more common complication for people with type 2 is called hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state, or HHS. HHS occurs when blood glucose levels are high for an extended period of time. The extra sugar is passed into the urine, causing the person to urinate frequently and become severely dehydrated, just like with DKA.
For people with type 2 diabetes, blood sugar above 600 mg/dL indicates HHS. Other symptoms include:
General Tips On How To Keep You Blood Sugar Levels In Control
You should eat foods that are high in protein, fiber, and lower in carbohydrates. You should aim at having around 45 to 60 carbs for each meal. Consistency throughout the day is key to keeping blood sugar levels in control. Foods low in fat and high in nutrients should be picked to maximize your nutrition.
Vegetables and fruits are great as well as eggs, fish, beans, and oatmeal. There is also research that shows cinnamon and apple cider vinegar can help lower your sugar.
Avoiding foods like soda, juice, pasta, candy, and other desserts can help keep your sugar from climbing too high. These foods are high in sugars and fat but low in other nutrients.
Avoiding excess alcohol is also better for you. Read the following article that I wrote about drinking alcohol when you have diabetes to learn more about this topic:
- Signs and symptoms
Signs of high blood sugar include: increased thirst and hunger, blurred vision, irritability, dry mouth, tired, and urinating a lot.
- Look for patterns
Patterns can be great because they help you figure out what is causing undesirable blood sugar values. A good way to track of it is to keep a journal of all of the food you eat, activities you do and your blood sugar levels for 1 week. During this week, check your sugar before and after you eat, as well as in between meals. Also document any insulin that you give yourself.
- Test sugar levels regularly
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How To Lower Blood Sugar Immediately
Michael Menna, DO, is a board-certified, active attending emergency medicine physician at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.
If you have high blood sugar, a condition also known as hyperglycemia, theres too much sugar in your blood and not enough insulin in your body to lower it. In people with diabetes, hyperglycemia can be caused by things like eating too many carbohydrates, lack of physical activity, stress from an illness or infection, nondiabetes medications , or skipping or not taking enough glucose-lowering medication.
Hyperglycemia requires immediate treatment to prevent serious complications, including nerve, tissue, and organ damage diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome . While taking rapid-acting insulin is the quickest way to lower your blood sugar, there are other ways like exercising and staying hydrated that can help. In cases of an emergency, contact your doctor immediately.
Which Foods Increase Blood Sugar Levels
Carbohydrates ultimately break down into glucose. Many people believe that carbs are bad for people with diabetes. This is not true. Carbs are fuel for the body, so they have to be eaten. You just need to be smart about which ones you eat and how much you eat of them. Picking foods that are high in carbs but have no other nutrition is not smart. Examples of these foods are:
- Full fat yogurt or milk
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When To Seek Medical Care
I would say that anybody with type 1 diabetes, first of all, they should always carry ketone sticks with them, says Dr. Hong. So, if blood sugars were to run high or they were to feel sickly, they should test their urine for ketones and if that is positive, they should seek care from a doctor or an emergency room. She says anyone should seek care if they feel very sick, have nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, confusion, or trouble thinking clearly. And then, if they are checking blood glucoses and they notice that their sugars are running significantly higher than what they’re used to and it’s not responding to any of their usual care such as drinking water or taking their insulin, they should absolutely seek care and speak to the doctor as well, Dr. Hong adds.
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
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What To Eat When Your Blood Sugar Is High
Usually, you can still eat all the regular fat, fiber, and protein-rich foods youâd typically eat when your blood sugar is elevated. There is no need to restrict food or eliminate carbohydrates in these moments, but it does warrant being more aware of the foods youâre eating and really ensuring weâre filling your plate with complex carbohydrates and nutrient-rich protein sources. Next time your blood sugar is high and youâre wondering what foods help lower blood sugars or what to eat for your next meal try one of these meals:
What Causes High Blood Sugar
To better manage hyperglycemia, its helpful to know potential triggers. Probably the first thing most people think about is foodin particular, carbohydratesand I would say even more specifically, simple carbohydrates would be the most likely culprit, says Dr. Hong. Foods that have a high glycemic index include things like white bread, potatoes, or rice.
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Beyond that, a common cause for a rise in blood sugar is a missed insulin dose, but its not always a matter of forgetting an injection. For example, in patients who are using an insulin pump, if the pump malfunctions or if there is a kink in the tubing or the infusion site is lodged and they are not aware that the insulin is not infusing, then that may happen, says Lorena Wright, M.D., an endocrinologist and the director of the LatinX Diabetes Clinic atUW Medicine. Insulin that is exposed to heat wont work as well either. Its not toxic, but itâs just not as effective, says Dr. Wright. That means your typical dose might not be as potent as youre used to, making the insulin less effective.
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