Can A Continuous Glucose Monitor Help With Low Blood Sugar
A continuous glucose monitor measures the bodys glucose levels in real-time by sensing the glucose present in tissue fluid . A CGM typically provides your glucose level every five minutes, which can be really helpful for tracking and finding patterns in how your glucose changes throughout the day. With CGM you can see how much time you spend in your target glucose range each day , notice trends, and develop strategies to improve your diabetes management.
CGMs can sound alerts when glucose levels drop below a certain threshold or are predicted to do so soon. This can be especially helpful for people who experience hypoglycemia unawareness, nighttime low blood sugar, or frequent hypoglycemic events. CGMs also allow you to share your glucose readings with your loved ones and care-partners in real time, so that they can let you know or help you out if your blood sugar starts to drop.
If you are interested in trying CGM, ask your healthcare team if the technology is available to you. You can also try ten-days of CGM for free.
Treating Low Blood Sugar
You are at risk of having a low blood sugar reaction if you:
- Skip or delay a meal or snack
- Take too much insulin or eat too few carbohydrates
- Drink alcohol, especially without eating carbohydrates
Check your blood sugar if you have any of these symptoms:
- Weakness and/or fatigue
If your blood sugar is less than 70 milligrams per deciliter :
- Eat 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate
- Wait 15 minutes and then recheck your blood sugar
- If your blood sugar is still less than 100 mg/dl, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate and retest your blood sugar in another 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
Important: If you have frequent low blood sugars speak to your doctor. You may need changes in your medication and/or meal plan.
Talk To Your Doctor Or Nurse
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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Target Blood Sugar Ranges For Pregnant People With Diabetes
Blood sugar targets during pregnancy are lower due to hormonal influences. The ADA, AACE, and Joslin Diabetes Center have slightly different guidelines for target blood sugar levels during pregnancy. In general, pregnant women with diabetes will want to follow individual guidelines provided by their endocrinologist.
The ADA recommends maintaining blood sugar levels of 95-140 mg/dL for pregnant women. However, some providers recommend an even tighter goal of blood glucose levels below 89 mg/dL before a meal and below 120 mg/dL after a meal.
To keep close tabs on levels, most diabetes specialists recommend that women with diabetes during pregnancy check their blood sugar:
- First thing in the morning
- Before all meals
Why Your Blood Sugar Level May Be Low
If blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dL, it is below normal levels. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:
- Not eating enough or missing a meal or snack
- Reducing the amount of carbohydrates you normally eat
- Alcohol consumption especially if youre drinking on an empty stomach
- Taking too much insulin or oral diabetes medication based on carbohydrates or activity levels
- Increased physical activity
- Side effects from medications
If you have diabetes, keep your blood glucose meter and sources of fast-acting glucose close by in case your blood sugar drops. This is especially important for people with hypoglycemia unawareness, which is a condition that causes symptoms of low blood sugar to go unnoticed.
Eating balanced meals and snacks at regular times throughout the day is a big part of maintaining normal blood glucose levels. Check out our article on meal planning for diabetes to better understand the three macronutrients where calories come from and which have the biggest effect on blood sugar.
Everyone will respond differently to certain factors, which is why its important to have individualized target glucose levels. To help you reach your target blood glucose goals, work with your healthcare provider to discuss modifications to your diet, physical activity, or medications, and alert them of other factors like a recent illness or stressful event.
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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.
How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy
Follow these steps:
They may need to go to hospital if they’re being sick , or their blood sugar level drops again.
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to lose consciousness.
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How Can I Prevent Hypoglycemia
You may need to change what and when you eat to prevent low blood sugar levels. Follow the meal plan that you and the dietitian have planned. The following guidelines may help you keep your blood sugar levels under control.
- Eat 5 to 6 small meals each day instead of 3 large meals. Eat the same amount of carbohydrate at meals and snacks each day. Most people need about 3 to 4 servings of carbohydrate at meals and 1 to 2 servings for snacks. Do not skip meals. Carbohydrate counting can be used plan your meals. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian for information about carbohydrate counting.
- Limit refined carbohydrates. Examples are white bread, pastries , regular sodas, syrups, and candy.
- Do not have drinks or foods that contain caffeine. Examples are coffee, tea, and certain types of sodas. Caffeine may cause you to have the same symptoms as hypoglycemia, and may cause you to feel worse.
- Limit or do not drink alcohol. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1Â½ ounces of liquor. Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Drink alcohol with meals to avoid hypoglycemia.
- Include protein foods and vegetables in your meals. Some foods that are high in protein include beef, pork, fish, poultry , beans, and nuts. Eat a variety of vegetables with your meals.
Blood Sugar Level Chart
- Normal reading for nondiabetic person = 7099 mg/dl
- The recommendation for someone who is diabetic = 80130 mg/dl
Two hours after a meal
- Normal reading for nondiabetic person = Below 140 mg/dl
- The recommendation for someone who is diabetic = Below 180 mg/dl
- Normal reading for nondiabetic person = Below 5.7%
- The recommendation for someone who is diabetic = 7% or less
**My Med Memo The measurement mmol is the abbreviation for millimole.
Blood Sugar Levels After Eating
Blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day, but the biggest changes happen around mealtimes. Before eating, a healthy sugar level is between 3.9-5.5mmol/L. Around 1-2 hours after eating, expect blood sugar to rise to 5-10mmol/L.
If your blood sugar doesn’t stick within these ranges, the body may have stopped regulating blood sugar effectively which can lead to prediabetes and diabetes.
Hba1c Test For Diabetes Diagnosis
An HbA1c test does not directly measure the level of blood glucose, however, the result of the test is influenced by how high or low your blood glucose levels have tended to be over a period of 2 to 3 months.
Indications of diabetes or prediabetes are given under the following conditions:
- Normal: Below 42 mmol/mol
- Prediabetes: 42 to 47 mmol/mol
- Diabetes: 48 mmol/mol
There are two types of blood sugar levels that may be measured. The first is the blood glucose level we get from doing finger prick blood glucose tests. These give us a reading of how high our levels are at that very point in time.
The second is the HbA1c reading, which gives a good idea of our average control over a period of 2 to 3 months. The target blood glucose levels vary a little bit depending on your type of diabetes and between adults and children.
Where possible, try to achieve levels of between 4 and 7 mmol/L before meals and under 8.5 mmol/L after meals. The target level for HbA1c is under 48 mmol/mol .
Research has shown that high blood glucose levels over time can lead to organ and circulation damage.
Keeping blood glucose above 4 mmol/l for people on insulin or certain medications for type 2 diabetes is important to prevent hypos occurring, which can be dangerous.
Your doctor may give you different targets. Children, older people and those at particular risk of hypoglycemia may be given wider targets.
FREE blood glucose level chart
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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.
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.
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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.
What Is Blood Sugar
When you eat, the carbohydrate in your food is broken down into a usable form of energy called glucose. Glucose also known as sugar enters the bloodstream and a hormone called insulin helps move it into our cells.
This process lowers the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. When this process works efficiently, your muscles and organs have the fuel they need without there being too much glucose remaining in the blood.
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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.
How Can I Prevent Low Blood Sugar
Your best bet is to practice good diabetes management and learn to detect hypoglycemia so you can treat it earlybefore it gets worse.
Monitoring blood sugar, with either a meter or a CGM, is the tried and true method for preventing hypoglycemia. Studies consistently show that the more a person checks blood sugar, the lower his or her risk of hypoglycemia. This is because you can see when blood sugar levels are dropping and can treat it before it gets too low.
If you can, check often!
- Check before and after meals.
- Check before and after exercise .
- Check before bed.
- After intense exercise, also check in the middle of the night.
- Check more if things around you change such as, a new insulin routine, a different work schedule, an increase in physical activity, or travel across time zones.
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Symptoms And Risk Factors
It can take months or years for enough beta cells to be destroyed before symptoms of type 1 diabetes are noticed. Type 1 diabetes symptoms can develop in just a few weeks or months. Once symptoms appear, they can be severe.
Some type 1 diabetes symptoms are similar to symptoms of other health conditions. Dont guessif you think you could have type 1 diabetes, see your doctor right away to get your blood sugar tested. Untreated diabetes can lead to very seriouseven fatalhealth problems.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes are not as clear as for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, though family history is known to play a part.
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 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup soft drink
- 1 tablespoon honey
Fifteen minutes after you’ve 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 Are Considered Normal Blood Sugar Levels
You might not have diabetes now, but do you know the risk factors?
In 2015, 22% of Canadian adults were pre-diabetic and the number of Canadians suffering from diabetes has increased by 44% in the last 10 years. As the leading cause of blindness, kidney problems, and non-trauma amputations, it is important to protect ourselves against diabetes.
But its not all bad news, diabetes is often a preventable disease. Knowing whether you have normal blood sugar levels is one of the best indicators of risk. If your blood sugar levels are high, mindful eating and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Read on for all the hottest tips on how to manage your blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes.
After You Have Low Blood Sugar
If your low blood sugar was mild , you can return to your normal activities once your blood sugar is back in its target range.
After you have low blood sugar, your early symptoms for low blood sugar are less noticeable for 48 to 72 hours. Be sure to check your blood sugar more often to keep it from getting too low again, especially before eating, physical activity, or driving a car.
If you used glucagon because of a severe low , immediately call your doctor for emergency medical treatment. If you have had lows several times close together , you should also tell you doctor. They may want to change your diabetes plan.
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Prevention Of Low Blood Sugar
Do not skip or delay meals. If your diet plan includes snacks, make sure to take these.
Measure insulin dosage carefully and inject it properly. If you cannot see well, a family member or a visiting nurse can prepare your insulin injections for you.
Take only the prescribed amount of insulin or oral medication for diabetes that your doctor has ordered.
Keep exercise consistent from day to day. Eat a snack or reduce your insulin prior to unusual exercise.
If you are taking insulin, notify your doctor if you have low blood sugars four or more times per week or if you have a severe low blood sugar. Severe low blood sugars are those less than 40 mg., those requiring help from another person, or those which cause you to have a convulsion or become unconscious.
If you are taking oral medication for your diabetes notify your doctor or nurse if blood sugars are running less than 80 mg. or if you have a severe low blood sugar.