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What Causes Blood Sugar To Go Low

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Treating An Episode Of Hypoglycaemia

Low Blood Sugar

The immediate treatment for hypoglycaemia is to have some sugary food or drink to end the attack.

For example, this could be:

  • a glass of fruit juice or non-diet soft drink
  • between three and five dextrose tablets
  • a handful of sweets

At first you should avoid fatty foods and drinks, such as chocolate and milk, because they don’t usually contain as much sugar and the sugar they do contain may be absorbed more slowly.

After having something sugary, you should have a longer-acting carbohydrate food, such as a few biscuits, a cereal bar, a piece of fruit or a sandwich.

It will usually take around 15 minutes to recover from a mild episode of hypoglycaemia. If you have a blood glucose meter, measure your blood sugar again after 15 to 20 minutes. If it’s still too low , you should have some more sugary food or a drink before testing your levels again in another 15 to 20 minutes.

When treating someone else with hypoglycaemia, if the above treatment isn’t effective, you may be able to help them by applying glucose gel to the inside of their cheeks, and gently massaging the outside of their cheeks.

It may take 10 to 15 minutes before they feel better. This shouldn’t be done if the person is drowsy or unconscious because of the risk of choking.

Rebound Hypoglycemia After Eating

If sugar comes from the food you eat, why would blood sugar be low after eating? It may be due to a phenomenon called reactive hypoglycemia. This refers to low levels of blood glucose that react to high levels. According to Mayo Clinic, it can occur within 4 hours of eating a meal.

Say breakfast includes pancakes, syrup, and fruit juice. The meal is full of carbs: starch in the pancakes, added sugar in the syrup, and natural sugar in the fruit juice. Those carbohydrates get absorbed fast.

Blood sugar can skyrocket, especially in people who have prediabetes or diabetes. You may feel a sugar high, or burst of energy, within minutes to an hour of eating. Thenthe crash. The higher they fly, the harder they fall, is spot-on for blood sugar. If it went up, up, up, it will go down, down down, possibly below normal levels and into the range of hypoglycemia.

Causes Of Low Blood Sugar

There are many reasons why you may have low blood sugar, including:

  • Taking too much insulin.
  • Not eating enough carbs for how much insulin you take.
  • Timing of when you take your insulin.
  • The amount and timing of physical activity.
  • Drinking alcohol.
  • How much fat, protein, and fiber are in your meal.
  • Hot and humid weather.
  • Unexpected changes in your schedule.
  • Spending time at a high altitude.
  • Going through puberty.
  • Menstruation.

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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.

A Low Blood Sugar Level And Driving

Low Blood Sugar

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:

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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 Causes Blood Sugar Fluctuations

Here is Why your blood sugar might be up and down or fluctuate too much:

  • Taking the excessive or inadequate amount of diabetes medication
  • Changes in diet patterns or food content such as eating fried food or high carbohydrate content
  • Change in the activity level such as starting a new activity or exercise
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Variability in diabetes medication absorption, For example, insulin absorption can vary by up to 20% every injection
  • Variability in carbohydrate consumption and incorrect nutritional labels
  • Brittle diabetes

Let us elaborate on these topics.

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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.

Treating Mild To Moderate Hypoglycemia

What causes low blood sugar levels in Diabetic individuals? – Dr. Mahesh DM

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

Eat this

What to do next

51 to 70 mg/dL

10 to 15 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as 4 ounces of fruit juice, 6 to 8 hard candies, or 3 to 4 glucose tablets.

Test your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. Repeat the treatment if necessary.

Under 50 mg/dL

Eat 20 to 30 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as 8 ounces of fruit juice, 12 to 16 hard candies, or 6 to 8 glucose tablets.

Test your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. Repeat the treatment if necessary.

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How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy

Follow these steps:

  • Put the person in the recovery position and do not put anything in their mouth so they do not choke.
  • If an injection of glucagon is available and you know how to use it, give it to them immediately.
  • If they wake up within 10 minutes of getting the injection and feel better, move on to step 5. If they do not improve within 10 minutes, call 999 for an ambulance.
  • If they’re fully awake and able to eat and drink safely, give them a carbohydrate snack.
  • 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.

    How To Calculate Your Blood Sugar Level: The Complete Guide

    To get an accurate reading of your blood sugar level, the best and most effective method is using a glucose meter. This will involve a small prick in your finger so receive a blood sample. The strip is then inserted into the meter and tested.

    You may be wondering what your reading should be. There is no normal reading, an ideal reading differs from person to person. Everyone will get different readings at different times of the day. However, there is a rough range to determining a low, normal and high blood sugar level. Blood sugar level is read in mmol/L, which stands for millimoles per liter. Here is a guide as to what an ideal reading is for each diabetic type and non-diabetic patients:

    Child
    4 5.9 mmol/L< 7.8 mmol/L4 5.9 mmol/L< 7.8 mmol/L

    It is advised to check it regularly if you are concerned, show regular symptoms or have diabetes. You should check before meals, exercise, before bedtime and after driving. Everyone is different so it is best to ask your doctor if you are unsure how many times and when you should check your blood sugar levels.

    Research shows that over 50% who try to estimate their blood sugar level reading are incorrect. This may be due to over underlying medical conditions that did not know they had or poor lack of judgement. Therefore, this suggests it is very important to test at home to check in on your levels regularly to avoid any unnecessary future complications.

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    How To Prevent Low Blood Sugar

    Small changes to your diet and physical activity habits can help prevent blood sugar spikes and decreases.

    • Take smaller portions of high-carb foods, such as bread, pasta, potatoes, desserts, soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages, and rice.
    • Include a source of protein, fat, and/or dietary fiber when you eat carbohydrates.
    • Choose less-processed versions of foods, such as whole fruit instead of juice, whole grains instead of refined, and pasta al dente instead of very well-cooked pasta.
    • Instead of exercising on an empty stomach, have a small snack an hour or two before you start, or a larger snack or small meal three hours before.
    • Have a snack or your next scheduled meal as soon as possible after exercising.

    These changes can help prevent blood sugar swings.

    Instead of

    When You Have Low Blood Sugar

    Effects of Low Blood Sugar on the Body

    First, eat or drink 15 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate, such as:

    • Three to four glucose tablets
    • One tube of glucose gel
    • Four to six pieces of hard candy
    • 1/2 cup fruit juice
    • 1 cup skim milk
    • 1/2 cup soft drink
    • 1 tablespoon honey

    Fifteen minutes after you’ve eaten a food with sugar in it, check your blood sugar again. If your blood sugar is still less than 70 mg/dL, eat another serving of one of the foods listed above. Repeat these steps until your sugar becomes normal.

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    What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar

    Different people may feel low blood sugar levels differently. People with low blood sugar may:

    • feel hungry or have “hunger pains” in their stomach
    • feel shaky or like they’re trembling
    • have a rapid heart rate
    • feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
    • have pale, gray skin color
    • have a headache
    • have seizures or convulsions
    • lose consciousness

    If you have diabetes, try to remember how your body reacts when your blood sugar levels are low. It may help you figure out when you’re having a low blood sugar level more quickly the next time.

    Learn More About Your Blood Glucose Levels With Nutrisense

    Managing all of these factors can seem like a lot to handle when using a traditional glucometer or getting the occasional lab test to check your blood sugar levels. Instead of measuring your glucose levels when you anticipate a fluctuation, a Continuous Glucose Monitor helps you focus on preventive health by tracking blood sugar in real-time.

    Even if you donât have prediabetes or diabetes, a CGM subscription from NutriSense can help you smooth out some of the bumps in your daily glucose variations. It can also help you optimize your health with a combination of leading CGM technology and personalized support from a team of registered dietitians.

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    Results Of Poor Blood Sugar Control

    Letting your blood sugar get too high has serious consequences. If your blood sugar is too high for too long, you may have:

    Circulation problems. Diabetes keeps the blood vessels in your body from working properly. This can lead to heart attack and stroke. Poor blood supply can also lead to vision problems, kidney problems, and nerve damage. Hyperglycemia is a risk factor for these problems even if blood sugar is not high enough to be considered diabetes.

    Mood problems. Balanced blood sugar is important for mood regulation. Those with diabetes have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

    Reproductive issues. About one in six pregnant women worldwide have a form of dysglycemia. Blood sugar problems increase the risk of death for the mother and child. It also raises the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.

    Preventing A Low Blood Sugar Level

    Symptoms of low blood glucose and how to spot it

    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.
    • 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.

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    How Can I Prevent Hypoglycemia

    You may need to change what and when you eat to prevent low blood sugar levels. Follow the meal plan that you and the dietitian have planned. The following guidelines may help you keep your blood sugar levels under control.

    • Eat 5 to 6 small meals each day instead of 3 large meals. Eat the same amount of carbohydrate at meals and snacks each day. Most people need about 3 to 4 servings of carbohydrate at meals and 1 to 2 servings for snacks. Do not skip meals. Carbohydrate counting can be used plan your meals. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian for information about carbohydrate counting.
    • Limit refined carbohydrates. Examples are white bread, pastries , regular sodas, syrups, and candy.
    • Do not have drinks or foods that contain caffeine. Examples are coffee, tea, and certain types of sodas. Caffeine may cause you to have the same symptoms as hypoglycemia, and may cause you to feel worse.
    • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor. Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Drink alcohol with meals to avoid hypoglycemia.
    • Include protein foods and vegetables in your meals. Some foods that are high in protein include beef, pork, fish, poultry , beans, and nuts. Eat a variety of vegetables with your meals.

    Low Blood Glucose During Sleep

    Your blood glucose level can drop while you sleep and stay low for several hours, causing serious problems.7 Symptoms of low blood glucose while you sleep can include

    • crying out or having nightmares
    • sweating enough to make your pajamas or sheets damp
    • feeling tired, irritable, or confused after waking up

    Although you may not wake up or notice any symptoms, low blood glucose can interfere with your sleep, which may affect your quality of life, mood, and ability to work. Having low blood glucose during sleep can also make you less likely to notice and respond to symptoms of low blood glucose during the day.

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    The Dangers Of Low Blood Glucose

    At some time, most people with diabetes experience the sweating and shakiness that occurs when blood glucose levels fall below 70 mg/dl a condition known as hypoglycemia. The average person with type 1 diabetes may experience symptoms of low blood glucose up to two times a week. However, not all are aware that these symptoms can rapidly progress to seizures, coma and even death if hypoglycemia is severe. Though hypoglycemia can be common and occur repeatedly in some people with diabetes, symptoms of low blood glucose should always be taken seriously. People with diabetes and their families, friends or coworkers should be prepared to act quickly and responsibly at the earliest signs of low blood glucose.

    Treating Low Blood Sugar

    Low Blood Sugar Symptoms: Low Blood Sugar

    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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