How Can I Pay For Tests And Diabetes Supplies
Medicareexternal icon, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans pay for the A1C test and fasting blood sugar test as well as some diabetes supplies. Check your plan or ask your health care team for help finding low-cost or free supplies, and see How to Save Money on Diabetes Care for more resources.
When Blood Sugar Is Too Low
Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it’s also formed and stored inside the body. It’s the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. Our brains depend on glucose to function, even when we’re sleeping.
The is the amount of glucose in the blood. When these levels drop too low, it’s called hypoglycemia . Very low blood sugar levels can cause serious symptoms that need to be treated right away.
Why Is It Important To Recognize A Low Blood Sugar Level
Low blood sugar levels can happen with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Low levels are more likely to happen if you use insulin. Hypoglycemia can cause you to have falls, accidents, and injuries. A blood sugar level that gets too low can lead to seizures, coma, and death. Learn to recognize the symptoms early so you can get treatment quickly.
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What Is A Severe Low
A severe low is defined as hypoglycemia that a person is unable to treat themselves. That is, they cant recognize that they are low and treat it with a fast-acting carbohydrate. If you sleep alone, and there is no one to help you recognize a low, it is generally recommended that you maintain a higher average blood sugar overnight if severe lows are a risk.
For more information about managing low blood sugars, click here.
For information about recognizing and treating hypoglycemia, click here.
Lows can happen in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The inability to recognize a low is more common if you have longstanding diabetes. For more information about why you should be concerned about low blood sugars, read Lori Berards expert blog.
What Causes A Low Blood Sugar Level
In people with diabetes, the main causes of a low blood sugar level are:
- the effects of medicine especially taking too much insulin, medicines called sulfonylureas , medicines called glinides , or some antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C
- skipping or delaying a meal
- not eating enough carbohydrate foods in your last meal, such as bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes and fruit
- exercise, especially if it’s intense or unplanned
- drinking alcohol
Sometimes there’s no obvious reason why a low blood sugar level happens.
Very occasionally, it can happen in people who do not have diabetes.
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Is The Low Predictable Or Unpredictable
Generally, a low blood sugar is predictable if there is a reasonable explanation for it . Unpredictable lows are when no obvious reason can be found. In this case, the unpredictable low could be a one off that occasionally happens and is more common with cloudy or N insulin. If it happens more than once, it could be a sign that you need to change your insulin routine either the dose or type. For example, it could be a change in your weight or that the liver is not making as much sugar overnight , or just being on the wrong type of insulin that is peaking in the night.
What Are Target Blood Sugar Levels For People With Diabetes
A target is something that you aim for or try to reach. Your health care team may also use the term goal. People with diabetes have blood sugar targets that they try to reach at different times of the day. These targets are:
- Right before your meal: 80 to 130
- Two hours after the start of the meal: Below 180
Talk with your health care team about what blood sugar numbers are right for you.
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What Is Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose, also called low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops below what is healthy for you. For many people with diabetes, this means a blood glucose reading lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter .1 Your number might be different, so check with your doctor or health care team to find out what blood glucose level is low for you.
How Can I Be Better Prepared For Hypoglycemia
You can take some steps to be ready for hypoglycemia:
- Be aware of the symptoms and treat them early.
- Carry some fast-acting carbs with you all the time.
- Check your glucose levels frequently, especially around meals and exercise.
- Inform family, friends and co-workers so they know what do if you need help.
- Talk to your healthcare provider regularly to make and update your plan.
- Wear a medical bracelet that lets people know you have diabetes. Carry a card in your purse or wallet with instructions for hypoglycemia.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hypoglycemia is quite common in people with diabetes. If not treated, it can cause troubling symptoms, and even serious health problems. Fortunately, you can avoid hypoglycemic episodes by monitoring your blood sugar. You can also make small adjustments to eating and exercising routines.
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How Do I Treat Low Blood Glucose
If you begin to feel one or more symptoms of low blood glucose, check your blood glucose level. If your blood glucose level is below your target or less than 70 mg/dL, follow these steps
What Can Happen When We Dont Prepare For A Low Blood Sugar
The week after, Paloma and her friend were on the road again. This time she didnt bring Gvoke and as she was trending low during the trip, she ate all of her low snacks before they arrived at their hotel.
That night, she woke up and checked her CGM to find that her blood sugar had dropped to 40 mg/dL , and thats when her low symptoms intensified, and she started feeling poorly. But she was out of snacks and didnt have her glucagon with her, so there was no way of treating the low.
Her friend ran to the vending machine in the hallway, but it was malfunctioning. As time was ticking, her friend ended up punching through the glass of the machine to get to the snacks.
At this point, they were both panicking and once her friend returned with the snacks, Paloma ate as much as she could. This experience left them both emotionally drained and she had to fight resistant high blood sugars throughout the following day.
What If I Have Severe Low Blood Glucose And Cant Treat Myself
Glucagona hormone that raises blood glucose levelsis the best way to treat severely low blood glucose. Available as an injection or a nasal spray, glucagon will quickly raise your blood glucose level. Your doctor can prescribe you a glucagon kit for use in case of an emergency.
If your blood glucose level drops very low, you wont be able to treat it by yourself. Be prepared to address severely low blood glucose by
- talking with your doctor or health care team about when and how to use a glucagon emergency kit. If you have an emergency kit, regularly check the date on the package to make sure it hasnt expired.
- teaching your family, friends, and coworkers when and how to give you glucagon. Tell them to call 911 right away after giving you glucagon or if you dont have a glucagon emergency kit with you.
- wearing a medical alert identification bracelet or pendant. A medical alert ID tells other people that you have diabetes and need care right away. Getting prompt care can help prevent the serious problems that low blood glucose levels can cause.
Treatment Plan For Lows
*** Remember that IOB calculations CANNOT be accurate unless your Active Insulin Time or Duration of Insulin Action time is set to at least 4.5 hours or LONGER!
More grams of carbs than these will likely be needed:
- If you forget and take 2 boluses/injections for a meal, or
- If you took a meal bolus but never ate the meal .
Quick treatment reduces stress hormone release and the chances of your glucose rising sharply afterward. Plus youll quickly feel better and your brain, muscles, and cells will thank you for resupplying the fuel that shortens their misery.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Each person’s reaction to low blood sugar is different. Learn your own signs and symptoms of when your blood sugar is low. Taking time to write these symptoms down may help you learn your own symptoms of when your blood sugar is low. From milder, more common indicators to most severe, signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Feeling shaky
- Color draining from the skin
- Feeling sleepy
- 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 sugar is to check your blood sugar, if possible. If you are experiencing symptoms and you are unable to check your blood sugar for any reason, treat the hypoglycemia.
A low blood sugar 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 level 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 sugar stays low for too long, starving the brain of glucose, it may lead to seizures, coma and very rarely death.
Check Your Blood Sugar Often
Talk with your provider about when you should check your blood sugar every day. People who have low blood sugar need to check their blood sugar more often.
The most common causes of low blood sugar are:
- Taking your insulin or diabetes medicine at the wrong time
- Taking too much insulin or diabetes medicine
- Taking insulin to correct high blood sugar without eating any food
- Not eating enough during meals or snacks after you have taken insulin or diabetes medicine
- Skipping meals
- Waiting too long after taking your medicine to eat your meals
- Exercising a lot or at a time that is unusual for you
- Not checking your blood sugar or not adjusting your insulin dose before exercising
- Drinking alcohol
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How Do I Pay For These Tests And Supplies
Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans pay for the A1C test and some of the cost of supplies for checking your blood sugar. Check your plan or ask your health care team for help finding low cost or free supplies. Ask your health care team what to do if you run out of test strips. For more information about Medicare and diabetes, go to .
What If I Have Trouble Getting To My Blood Sugar Goals
There may be times when you have trouble reaching your blood sugar goals. This does not mean that you have failed. It means that you and your health care team should see if changes are needed. Call your health care team if your blood sugar is often too high or too low. Taking action will help you be healthy today and in the future.
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What Should I Do If My Blood Sugar Is Low Right Before A Meal
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Stages Of Low Blood Sugar
You will notice certain signs when your blood sugar begins to drop. These signs arise in stages, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Each stage is characterized by a specific set of symptoms.
Nausea is one of the signs that occur in the mild stage, but it can also be present in later stages. Many organizations like the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases combine the mild and moderate stages into one.
Other signs of mild to moderate low blood sugar include:
- Blurred vision
Signs of severe low blood sugar include:
- Unable to eat or drink
Symptoms of hypoglycemia during sleep include:
- Crying out or having nightmares
- Sweating enough to make your pajamas or sheets damp
- Feeling tired, irritable, or confused after waking up
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How Do Carbs Affect Blood Sugar
Carbs in food make your blood sugar levels go higher after you eat them than when you eat proteins or fats. You can still eat carbs if you have diabetes. The amount you can have and stay in your target blood sugar range depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors. Counting carbs in foods and drinks is an important tool for managing blood sugar levels. Make sure to talk to your health care team about the best carb goals for you.
How Do I Treat An Episode Of Hypoglycemia
The American Diabetes Association recommends the 15-15 rule for an episode of hypoglycemia:
- Eat or drink 15 grams of carbs to raise your blood sugar.
- After 15 minutes, check your blood sugar.
- If its still below 70 mg/dL, have another 15 grams of carbs.
- Repeat until your blood sugar is at least 70 mg/dL.
If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia but cant test your blood sugar, use the 15-15 rule until you feel better.
Note: Children need fewer grams of carbs. Check with your healthcare provider.
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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 you’re 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.
It’s 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
- Have a headache or be lightheaded
- Turn pale
- 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.
A Low Blood Sugar Level Without Diabetes
A low blood sugar level is uncommon in people who do not have diabetes.
Possible causes include:
- a gastric bypass
- other medical conditions, such as problems with your hormone levels, pancreas, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands or heart
- some medicines, including quinine
See a GP if you think you keep getting symptoms of a low blood sugar level. They can arrange some simple tests to check if your blood sugar level is low and try to find out what’s causing it.
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