What Are The Treatments For Hypoglycemia
Make an appointment with an endocrinologist if you feel like youre having episodes of hypoglycemia, even if youre not diabetic. Theyll talk you through treatment strategies, including:
- Adjusting your medications. You may need to change how often you take insulin or other medications, which medications youre on, how much you take, and when you take them.
- Working with a registered dietitian on a personalized meal plan that stabilizes blood sugar levels. Theres no one-size-fits-all hypoglycemia diet, but a nutritionist can help you figure out a consistent meal plan tailored to you, and teach you how to count carbohydrate grams to go along with your health and routine.
- Increasing and improving self-monitoring of your blood glucose levels. Knowing your blood glucose level throughout the daywhen you get up, before meals, and after meals etc.can help you keep it from getting too low.
- Limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol interferes with the way your body metabolizes glucose. If you’re prone to hypoglycemia, consider decreasing how much alcohol you consume.
- Glucose tablets . Make sure you always have glucose tablets on hand, whether at home, school, the office, or the gym. After taking the tablet, check your blood sugar. If its still low, take another tablet. If that doesnt help, check with your doctor.
What To Do When Your Blood Sugar Levels Drop Too Low
People who use insulin and other diabetes medications are at risk for hypoglycemia. Keep this action plan handy so youre prepared.
If you take insulin or diabetes medication, you may be at risk of developing hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Without quick attention, hypoglycemia can lead to serious complications, so its important to know what to do if it happens to you or someone close to you.
In very severe cases, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures or loss of consciousness, says a clinical assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, gerontology, and metabolism at Stanford Health Care, and chief of the Stanford Endocrine Clinic.
Its possible to have hypoglycemia but have no symptoms, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . On the other hand, symptoms can also come on rapidly. While symptoms vary from person to person, if you develop mild to moderate low blood sugar you may:
- Feel shaky or jittery
- Be irritable or combative
- Have blurred vision or see double
Some people feel tingling or numbness in their extremities too, says Rodolfo Galindo, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, metabolism, and lipids at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and chair of the inpatient diabetes taskforce.
Sulay Shah, M.D. contributes to topics such as Diabetes.
How To Prevent Low Blood Sugars In The Future
There is probably no way to completely eliminate low blood sugars at night, but I have learned how to limit them quite a bit. What I do is pretty simple I try to learn from my mistakes. If I have a low during the night, Ill go back and see how my bolus and basal patterns were the day before, what I ate, and what I did.
For example, my last low blood sugar was at 4 am a few nights ago, and when I went back and analyzed the data, this is what I found:
Since it was 4 am and my last snack was at 11 pm, the low couldnt be due to my last bolus. I also hadnt changed my basal amount. However, I had moved my workout to later in the evening. So my conclusion was that to limit future nighttime lows, I should take less basal insulin before I go to bed if I work out later in the evening. Thats a pretty easy fix. I reduced my nightly basal and now Im sleeping through the night again and waking up with perfect sugars.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar How Do I Know I’m Experiencing A Low Blood Sugar
All this talk about lows, and we haven’t told you what to watch out for! Shame on us.
The signs and symptoms of low blood sugars happen quickly, can vary a lot, and can even be different each time. The American Diabetes Association has a comprehensive list:
- Tingling or numbness in the lips or tongue
Glycemia Load And Glycemic Index
Foods that have a high glycemic index, which means that they break down more rapidly into glucose after being eaten, raise blood sugar very quickly. Generally speaking, carbohydrate foods high in refined sugars or simple sugars have a high glycemic index. The sudden influx of glucose causes the release of large amounts of insulin, which removes too much glucose and causes blood glucose to drop. Eating foods with a low glycemic index helps avoid dropping blood sugar levels after eating. Glycemic load, which considers the amount of carbohydrates in a food along with its glycemic index, determines a food’s effect on your blood sugar.
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What Are Clinical Trials For Low Blood Glucose
Clinical trialsand other types of clinical studiesare part of medical research and involve people like you. When you volunteer to take part in a clinical study, you help doctors and researchers learn more about disease and improve health care for people in the future.
Researchers are studying many aspects of low blood glucose levels in diabetes, such as
- how to diagnose and treat low blood glucose among people with diabetes
- medicines that can treat symptoms of low blood glucose in people with hypoglycemia unawareness
- educational approaches to reduce fear of low blood glucose, which can make it harder for you to control your diabetes
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia tends to present as a cluster of symptoms, and they often occur together. The most common signs of dangerously low blood sugar include:
- Dizziness, disorientation, light-headedness, and an inability to think clearly
- Hunger, especially if youve just eaten
- Heightened irritability, confusion, and anxiety
- Clamminess and sweating, with cold hands and feet
- Drastic mood swings
If you have one or more of these symptoms contact your doctor.
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When To Call The Doctor
If signs of low blood sugar do not improve after you have eaten a snack that contains sugar, have someone drive you to the emergency room or call your local emergency number . DO NOT drive when your blood sugar is low.
Get medical help right away for a person with low blood sugar if the person is not alert or cannot be woken up.
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
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Complications From Spells Of Hypoglycemia
Mildly low blood sugar levels are somewhat common for people with diabetes however, severely low blood sugar levels can be life threatening. They may lead to seizures and nervous system damage if left untreated long enough. Immediate treatment is critical.
Its important to learn to recognize your symptoms and treat them fast. For people at risk for low blood sugar, having a glucagon kit a medication that raises blood sugar levels is important. Talk with your doctor for more information.
You may also want to talk with friends, family members, exercise partners, and co-workers about how to care for you if your blood sugar drops too low.
Its important for them to learn to recognize low blood sugar symptoms and know how to use the glucagon kit, as well as understand the importance of calling 911 if you lose consciousness.
Wearing a medical identification bracelet is a good idea. It can help emergency responders care for you properly if you need emergency attention.
Treat low blood sugar as soon as possible. Avoid driving if you are experiencing low blood sugar, as it can increase your risk for having an accident.
There are several ways that you can prevent low blood sugar.
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How To Treat Someone Whos Having A Seizure Or Fit
Follow these steps if someone has a seizure or fit caused by a low blood sugar level:
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to have a seizure or fit.
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Caution: Birth Control Pills
Types that have estrogen can affect the way your body handles insulin. Still, oral contraceptives are safe for women with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association suggests a combination pill with norgestimate and synthetic estrogen. The group also says birth control shots and implants are safe for women with the condition, though they can affect your blood sugar levels.
Warning Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia can cause both short- and long-term complications. Know the signs so that you can treat the condition as soon as youre aware of it.
As a person living with diabetes, you know how important it is to reduce blood sugar when it is too high, a phenomenon called hyperglycemia. But blood sugar that is too low, or hypoglycemia, is equally critical to avoid.
Hypoglycemia happens when the amount of blood glucose drops to a level thats too low to sustain normal functioning, says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, who is based in Sparta, New Jersey. In most people, this is defined as a blood sugar level at or below 70 milligrams per deciliter .
Hypoglycemia is common among people with type 2 diabetes, according to a review published in June 2015 in the journal PLoS One. Individuals with the condition had an average of 19 mild or moderate episodes of hypoglycemia per year and nearly one severe episode per year on average, according to the researchers. Low blood sugar was particularly common among those taking insulin.
This decrease in blood sugar levels can cause both short-term complications, like confusion and dizziness, as well as more serious issues, including seizures, coma, and, rarely, death, according to the American Diabetes Association .
Hypoglycemia is usually the result of a too-high dose of insulin or a change in diet or exercise habits, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
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How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy
Follow these steps:
They may need to go to hospital if they’re being sick , or their blood sugar level drops again.
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to lose consciousness.
What Is The Outlook For People With Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia can be managed when you and your healthcare provider understand what causes your blood sugar to go down. Give your healthcare provider as much information as possible about any hypoglycemic episodes. Fixing the problem may be as simple as changing the times you take medication, eat and exercise. Minor changes to the types of food you eat may also help.
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Severe Low Blood Sugar
As your low blood sugar gets worse, you may experience more serious symptoms, including:
- Feeling weak.
- Having difficulty walking or seeing clearly.
- Acting strange or feeling confused.
- Having seizures.
Severe low blood sugar is below 54 mg/dL. Blood sugar this low may make you faint . Often, youll need someone to help you treat severe low blood sugar.
People with diabetes may experience low blood sugar as often as once or twice a week, even when managing their blood sugar closely. Knowing how to identify and treat it is important for your health. Learn how to treat low blood sugar.
What To Do If You Have Symptoms
Very low blood sugar is a medical emergency. If someone you know has diabetes and theyre experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, have them eat or drink 15 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates, such as:
- half a cup of juice or regular soda
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 4 or 5 saltine crackers
- 3 or 4 pieces of hard candy or glucose tablets
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
If someone is having a severe reaction, such as unconsciousness, its important to administer a medication called glucagon and contact emergency services immediately.
People who are at risk for low blood sugar should talk with their doctor about getting a prescription for glucagon. You should never give an unconscious person anything by mouth, as it could cause them to choke.
Low blood sugar can occur for a number of reasons. Its usually a side effect of diabetes treatment.
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Dont Drive When You Have Low Blood Sugar
Its dangerous. If youre 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.
Allina Health: âNon-diabetic Hypoglycemia.
Endotext: Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia.
UW Health: âNutrition Management of Low Blood Sugar without Diabetes .â
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: âHow to Give an Emergency Glucagon Injection to Treat Low Blood Sugar.â
American Diabetes Association: âHypoglycemia .â
Joslin Diabetes Center: âDriving with Diabetes,â âHow To Treat A Low Blood Glucose,â âIs Low Blood Glucose Dangerous?â âOral Diabetes Medications Summary Chart,â âPrandin âOral Hypoglycemic Agent.â
Journal of the American Medical Association: âFactitious Hypoglycemia Due to Chlorpropamide: Report of a Case, with Clinical Similarity to an Islet Cell Tumor of the Pancreas.â
AMN Healthcare: âAdvances in Diabetes, Part II: Oral Medications.â
Physiciansâ Desk Reference: âAllopurinol,â âCoumadin,â âProbenecid.â
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: âLow Blood Glucose .â
Hormone Health Network: âNon Diabetic Hypoglycemia.â
University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics: âHypoglycemia .â
Tips For Keeping Blood Sugar Steady
The best way to address your personal concerns and needs is to discuss your diet, medication, and lifestyle with your healthcare team. They can diagnose any underlying conditions, adjust or change your medications, and advise you on the best ways to prevent hypoglycemia.
Tips that apply across the board to keep blood sugar stable include:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Planning meals
- Getting adequate sleep
People with diabetes may face more challenges when managing blood sugar levels, but it is possible to stay healthy.
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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.
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S For Treating A Person With Symptoms Keeping Them From Being Able To Treat Themselves
Dont hesitate to call 911. If someone is unconscious and glucagon is not available or someone does not know how to use it, call 911 immediately.
- Inject insulin
- Provide food or fluids
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What Can Cause A Sudden Blood Sugar Drop
There are a variety of factors which can cause a sudden blood sugar drop to occur, including eating the wrong combination of foods, exercising too strenuously without eating enough, taking certain herbal supplements or medications, and dining on the wrong kind of sugars and carbohydrates. Those with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to experience sudden blood sugar changes, but anyone can suffer from an occasional episode unless steps are taken to prevent it. Most sudden drops in blood glucose levels in non-diabetics stem from improper diet and too much physical activity.
Those with Type 1 diabetes or hypoglycemia are the most at risk for a sudden blood sugar drop. This can be caused by not properly monitoring food intake and combining the wrong foods for proper blood glucose control. For instance, eating refined carbohydrates leads to a rapid increase in blood sugar. This spike is generally followed by a dramatic drop in glucose levels shortly after. Some studies have shown that combining refined carbohydrates or sweets with protein may also exacerbate low blood sugar because the added protein affects the way the body absorbs and processes glucose.