High Blood Glucose: Hyperglycemia
Hyperglycemia means that you have too much blood glucose. It happens when your blood glucose level is around 200 mg/dL or higher. Hyperglycemia can happen if you miss taking your diabetes medications, eat too much or do not get enough exercise. Sometimes, the medications you take for other problems cause high blood glucose.
Symptoms of hyperglycemia include:
- Having blurry vision
- Having to urinate often
If you have these symptoms, check your blood glucose right away. If its too high, follow these steps:
- Check your blood glucose every four hours. If your level does not go down after two checks or your symptoms get worse, call a member of your diabetes team.
- Drink water or other sugar-free liquids, such as diet soda or Crystal Light.
- You may need to take an extra dose of insulin. Your diabetes educator talks with you more about this.
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What If The 15
If you dont feel better after three tries, or if your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider or 911. Healthcare providers can use a medication called glucagon. They inject it with a needle or squirt it up your nose. Glucagon is also available for home use. Your healthcare provider can prescribe it and teach a family member or friend how to use it in the event of severe hypoglycemia.
Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
How you react to low blood sugar may not be the same as how someone else with low blood sugar reacts. Its important to know your signs. Common symptoms may include:
If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.
You may not have any symptoms when your blood sugar is low . If you dont have symptoms, it will be harder to treat your low blood sugar early. This increases your risk of having severe lows and can be dangerous. This is more likely to happen if you:
- Have had diabetes for more than 5-10 years.
- Frequently have low blood sugar.
- Take certain medicines, such as beta blockers for high blood pressure.
If you meet one or more of the above and you have hypoglycemia unawareness, you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low. This is very important to do before driving or being physically active.
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What Are The Symptoms
While it can sometimes be easy to recognize signs and tell the difference between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, at other times it can be hard to tell them apart because of some overlap. For example, confusion and headaches can occur in both cases. Try to be aware of any symptoms you experience that can help you differentiate between the two conditions. And talk to your care team to see if getting a CGM is something that could benefit you. CGM is a great tool to help you know when you are too high or too low.
Though not everyone experiences all of these symptoms every time, and it may take time to learn to recognize these symptoms quickly, here is what can occur with hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia:
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Checking For Low Blood Sugar Levels
The warning signs of hypoglycemia are the body’s natural response to low blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels fall too low, the body releases the hormone adrenaline, which helps get stored glucose into the bloodstream quickly. This can make someone:
- have an increased heart rate
If the hypoglycemia isn’t treated, more serious symptoms may happen, such as drowsiness, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
The only way to know for sure if you’re having a low blood sugar level is to test. Blood sugar levels can be tested with a . This computerized device measures and displays the amount of glucose in a blood sample. But if you can’t quickly check your blood sugar level, it’s important to treat yourself for hypoglycemia immediately to prevent symptoms from getting worse.
Sometimes a person with diabetes may have symptoms of low blood sugar levels, but blood sugar levels are not actually low. This is a called a false reaction. The hormone adrenaline is not just released when blood sugar drops too low it’s also released when blood sugar levels fall quickly when they’re too high. If you’re having a false reaction, you might actually have blood sugar levels in a healthy range but feel as if you have low blood sugar. Testing blood sugar levels before treating yourself for hypoglycemia can help you figure out if you’re having a false reaction.
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What Are The Signs Of Nighttime Hypoglycemia
Signs that youve experienced nighttime hypoglycemia can include:
- Sweating: waking up with damp clothes/sheets
- Waking up with a headache
- Having nightmares
- Feeling unusually tired in the morning
- Waking up with a higher than usual glucose level
You may also wake up with a higher glucose reading, which is a result of your body rebounding from the overnight low glucose. Experiencing a fast heartbeat and anxiety before bed may be an indication of approaching hypoglycemia.
Diabetic Alert Dogs Can Help
Not only can dogs deal with low blood sugar like people, but they are also known to help their human companions detect hypoglycemia.
In a July 2016 study published in Diabetes Care, researchers studied eight women ages 41 to 51 with type 1 diabetes and found that dogs could detect isoprene chemicals, a marker of low blood sugar, on participants breath. These results suggest dogs may be able to warn their owners of impending hypoglycemic attacks. Dogs can be trained to detect such episodes.
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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.
Hypoglycemia Tests And Diagnosis
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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Research And Statistics: How Common Is Hypoglycemia
Because hypoglycemia is largely a symptom of an underlying condition, its unclear exactly how common it is in the United States. However, heres what we do know:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , 34.2 million people in the United States have diabetes. This is roughly 10.5 percent of the population, and the majority of these cases are type 2 diabetes.
- In the type 2 diabetes sphere, elderly adults are at highest risk for hypoglycemia unawareness. Previous research reported in Diabetes Care found that only 1 in 13 older adults with type 2 diabetes were able to correctly identify their symptoms.
- According to CDC data, 235,000 people with diabetes were admitted to the emergency room in 2016 due to hypoglycemia.
- Overall, the CDC estimates that 57,000 people with diabetes were hospitalized for hypoglycemia.
- Insulin excess is responsible for between 4 and 10 percent of deaths in patients with type 1 diabetes, according to past research published in Diabetes Care.
- A previous study identified a higher rate of hypoglycemia-related hospital visits in African American men with type 2 diabetes.
Hypoglycemia And Low Blood Sugar
What are the symptoms of hypoglycemia? While each child may experience symptoms of hypoglycemia differently, the most common include: shakiness dizziness sweating hunger headache irritability pale skin color sudden moodiness or behavior changes, such as crying for no apparent reason clumsy or jerky movements difficulty paying attention or confusion What causes hypoglycemia? The vast majority of episodes of hypoglycemia in children and adolescents occur when a child with diabetes takes too much insulin, eats too little, or exercises strenuously or for a prolonged period of time. For young children who do not have diabetes, hypoglycemia may be caused by: Single episodes: Stomach flu, or another illness that may cause them to not eat enough fasting for a prolonged period of time prolonged strenuous exercise and lack of food Recurrent episodes: accelerated starvation, also known as ketotic hypoglycemia, a tendency for children without diabetes, or any other known cause of hypoglycemia, to experience repeated hypoglycemic episodes. medications your child may be taking a congenital error in metabolism or unusual disorder such as hypopituitarism or hyperinsulinism.Continue reading > >
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What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms Of A Low Blood Sugar Level
- Check your blood sugar level, if possible. Your blood sugar level is too low if it is at or below 70 mg/dL.
- Eat or drink 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate. Fast-acting carbohydrates will raise your blood sugar level quickly. Examples of 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates:
- 4 ounces of fruit juice
- 4 ounces of regular soda
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- 1 tube of glucose gel or 3 to 4 glucose tablets
Factors That Can Affect Blood Sugar Levels
If you have prediabetes or diabetes, you may have insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. This means your body has difficulty regulating blood sugar levels on its own.
Its a delicate balance to maintain, so the following list can help you familiarize yourself with factors that can cause your blood glucose levels to go up or down.
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No Symptoms Be Alarmed
Surprisingly, the most dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia occur with little or no warning. When low blood glucose occurs on a regular basis, the body can become used to the warning signs and the person may stop noticing symptoms. This is a particularly dangerous condition known as hypoglycemic unawareness. People with this condition might not realize they have low blood glucose until it’s dangerously low seizures and coma are sometimes the first indication of a problem. The good news is that this condition can often be reversed allowing people to once again notice the signs of low blood glucose if hypoglycemia is avoided for a few weeks through careful monitoring of blood glucose.
Medication Used To Correct A Low Blood Sugar
This medicine is available in a kit for a low blood sugar emergency. Symptoms of a low blood sugar emergency are:
- patient is awake but unable to eat
- the patient is having a seizure
- the patients blood sugar is still less than 70 even after eating or drinking food containing sugar.
Most often, glucagon is injected into the muscle. This type of glucagon is a powder in a bottle to which sterile water is added from a pre-filled syringe. The same syringe is then used to give the injection. Do not mix the glucagon with water unless you are going to inject the glucagon.
Some glucagon can be given as a puff through the nose. Talk to your healthcare provider about which type may be best for you and your family. A family member or friend should know where you keep your glucagon kit and how to administer the medication. Read the directions that come with the kit with your friend or family member. That way you will be prepared if a low blood sugar emergency happens.
Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Glucose
Each person’s reaction to low blood glucose is different. Learn your own signs and symptoms of when your blood glucose is low. Taking time to write these symptoms down may help you learn your own symptoms of when your blood glucose is low. From milder, more common indicators to most severe, signs and symptoms of low blood glucose include:
- Color draining from the skin
- Feeling weak or having no energy
- Blurred/impaired vision
- Tingling or numbness in the lips, tongue, or cheeks
- Nightmares or crying out during sleep
The only sure way to know whether you are experiencing low blood glucose is to check your blood glucose levels, if possible. If you are experiencing symptoms and you are unable to check your blood glucose for any reason, treat the hypoglycemia.
A low blood glucose level triggers the release of epinephrine , the fight-or-flight hormone. Epinephrine is what can cause the symptoms of hypoglycemia such as thumping heart, sweating, tingling, and anxiety.
If the blood sugar glucose continues to drop, the brain does not get enough glucose and stops functioning as it should. This can lead to blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, confused thinking, slurred speech, numbness, and drowsiness. If blood glucose stays low for too long, starving the brain of glucose, it may lead to seizures, coma, and very rarely death.
The Effects Of Low Blood Sugar On Your Body
Every cell in your body needs energy to function. The main source of energy might come as a surprise: Its sugar, also known as glucose. Blood sugar is essential to proper brain, heart, and digestive function. It even helps keep your skin and vision healthy.
When your blood sugar levels fall below the normal range, its called hypoglycemia. There are many identifiable symptoms of low blood sugar, but the only way to know if you have low blood sugar is by taking a blood glucose test.
Learn more about the symptoms of low blood sugar, as well as the long-term effects on the body.
most common reasons for low blood sugar are some medications used to treat diabetes, such as insulin.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesnt make enough insulin, or your body cant use it properly. Too much insulin or oral diabetic medication can lower the blood sugar level, leading to hypoglycemia.
However, contrary to popular belief, low blood sugar isnt exclusive to diabetes, though it is rare. It can also happen if your body makes more insulin than it should.
Another possible cause of low blood sugar is drinking too much alcohol, especially over long periods of time. This can interfere with the livers ability to create a buildup of glucose and then release it into your bloodstream when you need it.
Other causes include:
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Listen To Your Doctor
If you follow a meal plan or take medications that increase insulin to manage low blood sugar, its important to stick to the plan your doctor prescribed to help prevent drops in your blood sugar level.
Not eating the right foods or taking the right medications at the correct times can cause your blood sugar to drop. Check in often with your doctor so they can adjust your treatment plan if and when necessary.
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 youre 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.
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