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:
Why Do These Symptoms Matter For Diabetics
These symptoms are essential for diabetics to understand, because they may encounter high or low blood sugar levels from time to time.
A cold or virus can cause sudden high blood sugar levels, and understand the symptoms means knowing how to deal with hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
People with diabetes who can recognise the symptoms can avoid levels that lead to medical emergencies such as diabetic ketoacidosis
Treating An Episode Of Hypoglycaemia
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.
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The Most Common Reasons You Might Suffer From Low Blood Sugar Levels:
- Your last meal was very high in carbohydrates and low in protein and healthy fats.
- You took too much medication
- You skipped a meal or two
- You ate less than normal
- You exercised more than usual
If you eat a meal full of simple sugars and starches without any healthy fats or proteins to slow digestion down, a huge amount of glucose will hit your bloodstream all at the same time around 30 minutes after you eat. In response, your pancreas will release alot of insulin in one or two waves to remove the sugar out of your blood and push it into your cells.
As a result of this process, your blood sugar will elevate quickly and then descend very quickly back to normal. When your blood sugar drops quickly, your brain may interpret this as a sign that you are heading for a dangerous low and release hormones that cause you to be ravenous in order to protect itself. You blood sugar doesnt even have to drop into a hypoglycemic range for this to happen, it is the rate of descent which triggers this response.
If you typically eat a diet that causes your body to need to release large amounts of insulin to remove sugar from your blood, your insulin production may become compromised, meaning that you wont release enough insulin or you may become insulin resistant meaning that the cells in your body wont be as sensitive to insulin and will require larger and larger amounts of insulin before they let insulin escort the glucose out of your blood into your cells.
What Extreme Conditions Can Occur If Hypoglycemia Is Left Untreated
Although severe episodes which can trigger potentially life-threatening comas are rare, they require immediate emergency room care, so its best to make sure you are tracking your blood sugar so that you never have to worry about getting to that point. A drop in blood sugar means less fuel for your brain, so its critical for your body to receive enough glucose. Hypoglycemia that leads to extended, reduced brain function is the biggest concern, as this can lead to seizures and loss of basic bodily functions controlled by the brain, which can ultimately lead to death, explains Dr. Dyer.
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How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Low Blood Sugar
If you believe that your dog fits into one of the categories where they are at risk for low blood sugar, talk to your veterinarian. Monitor your dog if they fit into one of the categories and have a plan of action ready if your dog should suddenly experience the symptoms of low blood sugar.
Prevention can happen by feeding your dog smaller meals throughout the day rather than one large meal once per day. Honey can also boost your dogs blood sugar if it is extremely low and needs to be raised so that he or she can safely make it to the veterinarian clinic for proper examination, diagnosis, and treatment.
Remember, if your dog is exhibiting low blood sugar symptoms, the quicker you are to get your dog treatment the more likely they are to recover without any lasting effects, and the less likely they are to continue to have these problems because they have gone undiagnosed.
How Are Low Blood Sugar Levels Treated
Your diabetes health care team will give you guidelines for treating low blood sugar levels, depending on your symptoms. If you can, try to test your blood sugar levels to make sure that your symptoms are because of hypoglycemia. If you can’t test blood sugar immediately, don’t delay in treating your symptoms you can always check your blood sugar after you’ve taken steps to get your blood sugar back up into the normal range.
When blood sugar levels are low, the goal is to get them back up quickly. To do that, you should take in sugar or sugary foods, which raise the blood sugar level quickly. Your health care team might suggest that you:
- Eat, drink, or take something that contains sugar that can get into the blood quickly. Your doctor may tell you to have really sugary foods or drinks or might give you glucose tablets or gel to take all of these can help to raise your blood sugar level fast, which is what you need to do when it’s low.
- Wait about 10 minutes to let the sugar work.
- Recheck your blood sugar level with a glucose meter to see if blood sugar levels are back to normal.
- Get a glucagon shot , if your symptoms are severe or get worse after you eat, drink, or take glucose.
Sometimes, blood sugar levels can get so low that you may not be awake enough to eat or drink something to get them back up. When this happens, you may need a glucagon shot.
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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.
Diabetes And Your Immune System
When your blood sugar is higher than it should be, that defense system starts to break down. One effect is increased inflammation throughout your body and especially in your blood vessels, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.
A weakened immune system also means you have an increased risk of contracting common infections like colds, flu, skin infections or pneumonia, and more serious ones like bone, joint, or heart infections. In fact, a study published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that people with diabetes are twice as likely to be hospitalized or die from a serious infection compared to those without diabetes.
Thats an important reason to manage your blood sugar. The closer to normal it stays throughout the day, the easier it is for your immune system to do its job. Heres what to aim for:
- If you have prediabetes, try to keep your fasting sugar below 100 mg/dL, and your A1c below 5.7%. Those numbers are considered normal no diabetes.
- If you have diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends working to keep your fasting or premeal blood sugar under 130 mg/dL, and your A1c under 7.0%.
Luckily, there are a few natural ways to improve your blood sugar and support your immune system at the same time. And hey, anything that kills two birds with one stone is good in my book!
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How Long Will The Effects Last
The effects of low blood sugar will continue and may even get worse until treatment brings your blood sugar level back to normal. It may take several minutes for the symptoms to go away after you start treatment. This may be a temporary problem while you and your healthcare provider are adjusting your medicine. If you are always prone to having low blood sugar, you may need to take special care for the rest of your life to keep your blood sugar at the proper level.
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
What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms can be different depending on how low your blood sugar level drops.
- Mild hypoglycemia can make you feel hungry or like you want to vomit. You could also feel jittery or nervous. Your heart may beat fast. You may sweat. Or your skin might turn cold and clammy.
- Moderate hypoglycemia often makes people feel short-tempered, nervous, afraid, or confused. Your vision may blur. You could also feel unsteady or have trouble walking.
- Severe hypoglycemia can cause you to pass out. You could have seizures. It could even cause a coma or death.
If you’ve had hypoglycemia during the night, you may wake up tired or with a headache. And you may have nightmares. Or you may sweat so much during the night that your pajamas or sheets are damp when you wake up.
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.
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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
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.
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What Is Canine Low Blood Sugar
Sugar is your dogs main source of energy. If your dog is experiencing low blood sugar then their ability to properly function decreases and their energy levels will decrease, too. In extreme situations low blood sugar can cause serious health issues such as black out or even death.
When you think of low blood sugar you probably think of diabetes, but it is important to know that there are many other reasons that your dog may be experiencing low blood sugar, such as pregnancy, cancer, kidney failure, infection, or ingestion of something toxic. Keep in mind any other symptoms that your dog may be exhibiting along with the signs of low blood sugar so that your veterinarian has a better picture of what might be causing your dog to experience low blood sugar.
Which Dogs Are Most At Risk Of Having Low Blood Sugar
The dogs that are most at risk of having low blood sugar are puppies, toy breeds, small breed dogs, and dogs who exert a lot of energy.
Puppies are most susceptible to low blood sugar because their bodies have not developed to the point where they are able to regulate their blood sugar levels on their own consistently.
Toy breeds and small breed dogs are susceptible to low blood sugar because they are often unable to store enough glucose to support their high amounts of energy. The combination of low glucose in storage accompanied with a high energy expenditure can result in a glucose deficiency, or low blood sugar.
Dogs who exert a lot of energy include dogs who may be pregnant, hunt frequently, are worker dogs , or dogs with known medical problems. If your dog is a working dog, hunts often, has known medical conditions, or may be pregnant then they may be at risk for low blood sugar.
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Overdose Of Diabetes Medication
A common cause of hypoglycaemia is taking too much insulin for your current needs. Insulin is a medication that helps control your blood glucose levels. It’s commonly used to treat type 1 diabetes and is also recommended for some people with type 2 diabetes.
A fall in blood glucose levels can also occur after taking too much oral hypoglycaemia medication, such as sulphonylurea, which causes a release of insulin. This medication is often used to lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
The Causes Of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar levels can happen to kids with diabetes because of the medicines they have to take. Kids with diabetes may need a hormone called insulin and/or diabetes pills to help their bodies use the sugar in their blood. These medicines help take the sugar out of the blood and get it into the body’s cells, which makes the level of sugar in the blood go down.
But sometimes it’s a tricky balancing act, and blood sugar levels can get too low. Kids with diabetes need to keep their blood sugar levels from getting too high or too low. How do they do it? With help from grown-ups, they keep three things in balance:
Each one of these can affect the other. For instance, eating more might mean a kid needs more insulin. And exercising might create the need for an extra snack. Again, a grown-up can help you learn how to juggle those three activities so you keep feeling good.
Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely to happen are:
- skipping meals and snacks
- not eating enough food at a meal or snack
- exercising longer or harder than usual without eating something extra
- getting too much insulin
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
- taking a long bath or shower right after an insulin shot
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