Possible Causes With Diabetes
Diabetes affects your bodys ability to use insulin. Think of insulin as the key that unlocks your cells, letting in glucose for energy.
If you have diabetes, a variety of treatments can help the cells in your body use the glucose in your blood. Among these are insulin injections and oral medications that increase insulin production.
If you take too much of these types of medications, your blood sugar may drop too low. You may also sometimes experience low blood sugar if you plan to eat a big meal but then do not eat enough.
Skipping meals, eating less than usual, or eating later than usual but taking your medication at your usual time can also lead to low blood sugar levels.
Unplanned excess physical activity without eating enough can also cause a drop in blood sugar levels.
Drinking alcohol when youre on these medications can also lead to low blood sugar, especially if it replaces food. When your body is trying to get rid of alcohol, it becomes worse at managing blood sugar levels.
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.
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:
|4 5.9 mmol/L< 7.8 mmol/L||4 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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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.
Signs & Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Keeping blood glucose levels in a healthy range can be challenging.
When the amount of sugar in your blood has dropped below your target range , it is called low blood sugar .
If your blood sugar has dropped, you may feel:
- shaky, light-headed, nauseated
- an increase in heart rate
- sweaty, headachy
- numbness or tingling on your tongue or lips
Symptoms of very low blood sugar are more severe and can make you:
- confused and disoriented
- lose consciousness
Make sure you always wear your MedicAlert® identification and talk to your doctor or diabetes educator about prevention and emergency treatment for severe low blood sugar.
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Whats The Link Between Diabetes And Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is most common, by far, in people with diabetes. Treatment for the diseaseoften involves taking medication to increase insulin. Hypoglycemia can develop if things like food, exercise and diabetes medications are out of balance.
Common pitfalls for people with diabetes include:
- Being more active than usual.
- Drinking alcohol without eating.
- Eating late or skipping meals.
- Not balancing meals by including fat, protein and fiber.
- Not eating enough carbohydrates.
- Not timing insulin and carb intake correctly .
Also, if someone with diabetes uses the wrong insulin, takes too much or injects it incorrectly, that can cause hypoglycemia.
Best Ways To Lower Blood Sugar Quickly
When treated early, you can bring high blood sugar levels down and prevent complications, including DKA.
Some sources suggest that drinking water or eating a high protein snack can quickly lower your blood sugar levels, though there isnt enough research to support this.
If you have high blood sugar and need to lower it fast, try the following methods:
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Treatment For High Blood Sugar Levels
For those with high blood sugar levels, it is vital to keep track of your blood sugars at home on a daily basis. This can be done with a glucose meter. These test monitors are often provided to diabetic patients so that they can manage their blood sugar levels at home everyday. They are available to purchase online if you are non-diabetic but wish to check on your levels regularly for safety.
Diabetic patients can be prescribed medications to help with insulin levels when their blood sugar is high. Those with type 1 diabetes will be prescribed medication which needs to be taken several times daily. This type of diabetes has no cure but can be managed with the right medication.
Those with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes can treat their high blood sugar with a change in diet or exercise. A healthier balanced diet is usually advised and sometimes, insulin medication is also prescribed if the blood sugar level becomes abnormally higher than the high reading for diabetic patients.
Diabetes Medication That Can Help You Control Your Blood Sugar
If youve been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will likely discuss medication options to help bring your blood sugar down. If you have prediabetes, on the other hand, youll probably rely on diet and lifestyle changes to help stabilize your numbers, though in some cases, you may need medication, Dodell says.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is treated with emergency insulin and fluids administered intravenously. But the goal with blood sugar control is to prevent this type of medical emergency from happening in the first place. If your blood glucose readings are consistently higher than usual, you may not be getting enough insulin. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your dosage. You should also tell them about any other prescription or over-the-counter medication you take, as these could affect your blood sugar, too. Corticosteroids for inflammation are just one example.
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Hypoglycemia Can Occur At Night
“It usually occurs between midnight and 1 a.m. and I always wake up soaking wetbut only from the waist up. My head, shoulders, and upper back are just dripping with sweat,” he says.
He checks his blood sugar, and if it’s low, he goes straight to the refrigerator and drinks some pineapple juice, and eats a peanut butter sandwich. He waits 45 minutes or so and then checks his blood sugar again. If it’s in the normal range, he heads back to bed.
Severe Low Blood Sugar
As your low blood sugar gets worse, you may experience more serious symptoms, including:
- 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.
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Preventing A Low Blood Sugar Level
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.
- Use a continuous glucose monitor or flash monitor to see how your blood sugar levels are changing. Ask your diabetes care team about getting a monitor if you do not already have one.
- 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.
Questions Caregivers Should Ask
As a family member, friend, or caregiver, you want to do your best to keep your loved one, friend, or patient safe from severe hypoglycemia. But knowing whats best can be overwhelming. Here are some questions to help you get started.
- What are my loved ones/friends/patients chances for severe hypoglycemia?
- How often should my loved one/friend/patient check their blood glucose?
- What should I do if there is no change after giving the glucagon?
- What would be the best food or drink to give my loved one/friend/patient once they wake up?
- Should I talk with a diabetes educator?
- How can I help treat their hypoglycemia?
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When You Have Low Blood Sugar
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
- 1/2 cup soft drink
- 1 tablespoon honey
Fifteen minutes after youve 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 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 Is Type 2 Diabetes
Decreasing insulin production leads to an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream. This condition worsens gradually over time. In the end, it develops into type 2 diabetes. It is also a root cause of certain nervous and circulatory system diseases.
This condition can be caused by several factors, such as:
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Preventing Low Blood Sugar Levels
Here are some other tips to help you avoid low blood sugar levels:
- Eat all your meals and snacks on time and try not to skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
- Dont take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly, so you can tell if your blood sugars are running too low and your treatment plan needs adjustment.
- Carry something containing sugar with you at all times and take it right away if you have symptoms. Dont wait to see if the symptoms will go away they may get worse!
Alcohol and drugs can cause major problems with your blood sugar levels, so avoiding them is another way to prevent diabetes problems. Drinking can be particularly dangerous even deadly for people with diabetes because it messes up the bodys ability to keep blood glucose in a normal range. This can cause a very rapid drop in blood glucose in people with diabetes. Drug or alcohol use is also dangerous because it may affect someones ability to sense low blood sugar levels.
Learning how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar levels and get them back to normal is an important part of caring for diabetes. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels and recording lows when they occur will help you and your diabetes health care team keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
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Checking For Low Blood Sugar Levels
The warning signs of hypoglycemia are the bodys 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 isnt treated, more serious symptoms may happen, such as drowsiness, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
The only way to know for sure if youre 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 cant quickly check your blood sugar level, its 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 its also released when blood sugar levels fall quickly when theyre too high. If youre 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 youre having a false reaction.
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Symptoms Of Blood Blood Sugar Levels
Symptoms of blood sugar levels differ depending on if it is high or low. To determine which way the blood sugar have moved, the symptoms for each are typically:
|High Blood Sugar Symptoms|
|Slow healing wounds||Turning pale|
If symptoms are left untreated, more extreme circumstances can happen such as fainting, weakness, disorientation, vomiting and dehydration. When you notice symptoms, usually more than one at one time, it is advised to see a doctor right away.
It is important to get the right treatment so that you can return to a healthy normal blood sugar level and inhibit it from occurring again.
Treatment methods vary from the severity of the blood sugar level, whether it is high or low and if the patient has existing medical conditions, such as diabetes. Here are ways in which blood sugar levels can be treated:
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