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What Does It Mean When You Have Low Blood Sugar

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What Are The Complications Associated With Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycaemia – How to Treat and Prevent Low Blood Sugar

Its important to manage your hypoglycemia because it can cause long-term health problems. Your body needs glucose to function. Without the right level of glucose, your body will struggle to perform its normal functions. As a result, you may have difficulty thinking clearly and performing even simple tasks.

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:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Hunger

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.

Treating Low Blood Glucose If You Take Medicines That Slow Down Digestion

Some diabetes medicines slow down the digestion of carbohydrates to keep blood glucose levels from rising too high after you eat. If you develop low blood glucose while taking these medicines, you will need to take glucose tablets or glucose gel right away. Eating or drinking other sources of carbohydrates wont raise your blood glucose level quickly enough.

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How To Treat A Low Blood Sugar Level Yourself

Follow these steps if your blood sugar level is less than 3.5mmol/L or you have hypo symptoms:

  • Have a sugary drink or snack like a small glass of fizzy drink or fruit juice, 4 to 5 jelly babies, 3 to 6 glucose tablets or 1 to 2 tubes of glucose gel.
  • Test your blood sugar after 10 minutes if it’s improved and you feel better, move on to step 3. If there’s little or no change, treat again with a sugary drink or snack and take another reading after 10 to 15 minutes.
  • You may need to eat your main meal if it’s the right time to have it. Or, have a snack that contains a slow-release carbohydrate, such as a slice of bread or toast, a couple of biscuits, or a glass of cows’ milk.
  • You do not usually need to get medical help once you’re feeling better if you only have a few hypos.

    But tell your diabetes team if you keep having hypos or if you stop having symptoms when your blood sugar level is low.

    What Are The Complications Of Low Blood Glucose

    How Do I Quickly Bring Down My Blood Glucose (Lower High Blood Sugar ...

    Mild-to-moderate low blood glucose can be easily treated. But severely low blood glucose can cause serious complications, including passing out, coma, or death.

    Repeated episodes of low blood glucose can lead to

    • high blood glucose levels, if worry or fear of low blood glucose keeps you from taking the medicines you need to manage your diabetes8
    • hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition in which you dont notice any symptoms of low blood glucose until your blood glucose level has dropped very low

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    What Can Cause Low Blood Sugar Levels

    Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely are:

    • skipping meals and snacks
    • not eating enough food during a meal or snack
    • exercising longer or harder than usual without eating some extra food
    • getting too much insulin
    • not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise

    Also, some things may increase how quickly insulin gets absorbed into the bloodstream and can make hypoglycemia more likely. These include:

    • taking a hot shower or bath right after having an insulin injection increases blood flow through the blood vessels in the skin, which can make the insulin be absorbed more quickly than usual
    • injecting the shot into a muscle instead of the fatty layer under the skin
    • injecting the insulin into a part of the body used a lot in a particular sport .

    All of these situations increase the chances that a person may get hypoglycemia.

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    Signs Of Low Blood Sugar At Night

    If your blood sugar drops while you are sleeping, your partner or other family members may notice that you are sweating and behaving differently. Signs of low blood sugar at night include:

    • Restlessness.
    • Attempting to get out of bed or accidentally rolling out of bed.
    • Sleepwalking.
    • Nightmares.
    • Sweating.

    You may wake up with a headache in the morning if your blood sugar was low during the night.

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    When Your Blood Sugar Gets Low

    Check your blood sugar whenever you have symptoms of low blood sugar. If your blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL, treat yourself right away.

    1. Eat something that has about 15 grams of carbohydrates. Examples are:

    • 3 glucose tablets
    • One half cup of fruit juice or regular, non-diet soda
    • 5 or 6 hard candies
    • 1 tablespoon or 15 mL of sugar, plain or dissolved in water
    • 1 tbsp of honey or syrup

    2. Wait about 15 minutes before eating any more. Be careful not to eat too much. This can cause high blood sugar and weight gain.

    3. Check your blood sugar again.

    4. If you do not feel better in 15 minutes and your blood sugar is still lower than 70 mg/dL , eat another snack with 15 g of carbohydrates.

    You may need to eat a snack with carbohydrates and protein if your blood sugar is in a safer range — over 70 mg/dL — and your next meal is more than an hour away.

    Ask your provider how to manage this situation. If these steps for raising your blood sugar do not work, call your doctor right away.

    Talk To Your Doctor Or Nurse

    LOW blood SUGAR in Diabetics (hypoglycemia). Everything you NEED to know!

    If you use insulin and your blood sugar is frequently or consistently low, ask your doctor or nurse if you:

    • Are injecting your insulin the right way
    • Need a different type of needle
    • Should change how much insulin you take
    • Should change the kind of insulin you take

    DO NOT make any changes without talking to your doctor or nurse first.

    Sometimes hypoglycemia can be due to taking the wrong medicines. Check your medicines with your pharmacist.

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    S For Treating A Person With Symptoms Keeping Them From Being Able To Treat Themselves

  • If the glucagon is injectable, inject it into the buttock, arm or thigh, following the instructions in the kit. If your glucagon is inhalable, follow the instructions on the package to administer it into the nostril.
  • When the person regains consciousness , they may experience nausea and vomiting.
  • Dont hesitate to call 911. If someone is unconscious and glucagon is not available or someone does not know how to use it, call 911 immediately.

    Do NOT:

    • Inject insulin
    • Provide food or fluids

    How To Treat Low Blood Sugar

    If you think you have low blood sugar, be sure to check it.

    Keeping your blood sugar levels on target as much as possible can help prevent or delay long-term, serious health problems. While this is important, closely managing your blood sugar levels also increases your chance for low blood sugar . Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low. If you think you have low blood sugar, check it. If you arent able to check it, go ahead and treat it.

    Untreated low blood sugar can be dangerous, so its important to know what to do about it and to treat it immediately.

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    Your Brain Relies On Blood Sugar

    Glucose is the form of sugar that circulates through your bloodstream. It plays a vital role in fueling your body, particularly your brain. Glucose is the only fuel your brain cells rely on exclusively. Your brain is unable to store glucose, so it depends on glucose delivery from your bloodstream. The brain has a high demand for glucose because it requires twice as much fuel compared to the rest of the cells in your body. When glucose levels in your blood drop too low, this means your brain is unable to get enough fuel.

    What Else Can You Do To Control Blood Sugar Levels

    If You Have Low Blood Sugar, You Could Benefit from a Good Night

    Yes. People with diabetes should wear identification stating they have diabetes and whether they have recurrent low blood sugar. Those at risk for the health condition should be counseled on checking blood sugars before they drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or do anything physically taxing. In addition, it is important to carry a quick-acting glucose source at all times, and keep a source in their car, office, and by their bedside. Efforts should be made to minimize the hypoglycemic effects of drug regimens and to avoid variable surges in exercise, activity, and drinking alcohol.

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    What Causes Hypoglycemia

    If you have diabetes, there are to avoid. If youre diabetic and experience any of the above low blood sugar symptoms after any the following behaviors, its important to alert your physician to see whether you have dangerously low blood sugar.

    • Too few carbohydrates. As carbohydrates are your bodys main source of glucose, not having enough of them can cause a drop in blood sugar.

    • Skipping meals. Just like consuming too few carbohydrates, skipping meals can prevent your body from receiving the energy it needs from glucose.

    • Strenuous physical activity. Exercising more than usual, especially if you haven’t eaten enough carbohydrates at a meal, can cause a hypoglycemic episode.

    • Excessive drinking. Alcohol can interfere with your bodys ability to metabolize glucose.

    • Not eating soon enough after insulin treatment. If you take insulin as prescribed during mealtimes, but delay eating, this can cause hypoglycemia.

    • Too much insulin. If you take too much insulin, this can cause your blood sugar to crash.

    What Is Low Blood Sugar

    Low blood sugar is a level of sugar, or glucose, in the blood that is lower than normal. According to the American Diabetes Association, the cut-off value for Level 1 hypoglycemia, or moderately low blood sugar, is 70 mg/dl. However, you may not be regularly measuring your blood sugar if you have not been diagnosed with diabetes. Instead, you might suspect that you have hypoglycemia because of its symptoms. The fatigue, fuzzy thinking, and need to sit down are the result of your body being deprived of its main fuel source: glucose.

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    Hypoglycemia In Children: Pediatric Ketotic Hypoglycemia

    Some children experience pediatric ketotic hypoglycemia, a condition involving low blood sugar levels and high levels of ketones. If people do not have enough glucose to use as energy, the body begins to break down fat in the body instead. The body produces chemicals called ketones as a by-product of breaking down fat.

    According to a 2019 study , pediatric ketotic hypoglycemia usually occurs due to poor intake of food, a gastrointestinal illness and vomiting, or a period of prolonged fasting. Severe metabolic and hormonal conditions may also cause pediatric ketotic hypoglycemia.

    Pediatric ketotic hypoglycemia may affect children from 6 months old and often resolves after the age of 6 years.

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    Physicians explain how to tell when your blood sugar is dangerously low, and how to take action to prevent complications.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 34 million people living in the United States had diabetes in 2018 and amazingly, 21% of adults with diabetes did not even know they had it. The scariest part is that, if left untreated, diabetes can be deadly. In fact, it was the seventh leading cause of death in the year 2017.

    And while normally associated with high blood sugar , diabetic folks can also experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, alongside its own bevy of problems including more severe and/or long-term effects like seizures, loss of consciousness, dementia and even death. Further, according to the Mayo Clinic, hypoglycemia can also cause low blood sugar in folks without diabetes due to a variety of conditions and medications.

    So, needless to say, its important to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. But how is this done, especially if you dont know the first thing about blood sugar?

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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

  • Eat or drink 15 to 20 grams of glucose or carbohydrates right away. Examples include
  • four glucose tablets or one tube of glucose gel.
  • 1/2 cup of fruit juicenot low-calorie or reduced-sugar juice. If you have kidney disease, dont drink orange juice because it has a lot of potassium. Apple, grape, or cranberry juice are good options.
  • 1/2 can of sodanot low-calorie or reduced-sugar soda.
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup.
  • Wait 15 minutes and check your blood glucose level again. If your glucose level is still low, eat or drink another 15 to 20 grams of glucose or carbohydrates.
  • Check your blood glucose level again after another 15 minutes. Repeat these steps until your glucose level is back to your target range.
  • If your next meal is more than 1 hour away, have a snack to keep your blood glucose level within a range that is healthy for you. Try crackers or a piece of fruit.
  • 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.

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    What Causes Low Blood Sugar

    Despite advances in the treatment of diabetes, low blood sugar episodes occur as a side effect of many treatments for diabetes. In fact, these episodes are often the limiting factor in achieving optimal blood sugar control, because many medications that are effective in treating diabetes carry the risk of lowering the blood sugar level too much, causing symptoms. In large scale studies looking at tight control in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, low blood sugars occurred more often in the patients who were managed most intensively. This is important for patients and physicians to recognize, especially as the goal for treating patients with diabetes becomes tighter control of blood sugar.

    While people who do not have any metabolic problems can complain of symptoms that resemble low blood sugar, true hypoglycemia usually occurs in people with diabetes mellitus . People with pre-diabetes or insulin resistance also can have low blood sugars on occasion if their high circulating insulin levels are further challenged by a prolonged period of fasting. There are other rare causes for the condition, such as insulin-producing tumors and certain medications.

    These uncommon causes of hypoglycemia will not be discussed in this article, which will primarily focus on the condition occurring with type 1 or 2 diabetes and its treatment.

    How Do You Treat Hypoglycemia

    Low Blood Sugar

    Low blood sugar levels happen when theres too little glucose left in the bloodstream to continue supplying fuel to your organs, muscles, and tissues. It most often occurs when you dont eat enough food, especially carb-containing foods, given your blood-sugar-lowering medications and physical activity levels, ONeill says. Levels can decrease gradually or suddenly.

    When the amount of glucose in the bloodstream drops to too-low levels, the body reacts by releasing epinephrine, also called adrenaline or the fight or flight hormone. Epinephrine revs your heart rate and can cause sweating, shaking, anxiety, and irritability. If not enough glucose is able to reach the brain, the result may be difficulty concentrating, confused thinking, and slurred speech. In extreme cases, a lack of glucose within the brain can lead to seizures, coma, and even death, she says.

    People with low glucose levels can use the ADAs 15-15 Rule, which advises people consume 15 g of carbs, wait 15 minutes, and check their levels again. If the number is still low, repeat until reaching at least 70 mg/dL.

    You can find 15 g of carbs in:

    • 1 slice of bread
    • 1 small piece of fresh fruit
    • cup of yogurt
    • Three to four hard candies
    • Glucose tablets as indicated on the label
    • Glucose gel as indicated on the label

    Once your glucose levels are back to normal, the ADA suggests going ahead and eating your next scheduled meal or snack, which will help prevent levels from dropping again.

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