Low Blood Sugar Level Causes
Most low blood sugar level causes are preventable and are caused due to a persons lifestyle and diet habits. Low blood sugar is common among diabetic patients who take medications to increase insulin levels.
All of the above causes are risk factors that may or may not be able to be inhibited. They are important to be aware of and act accordingly to keep yourself from getting a too high or too low blood sugar level.
If a person has medical, lifestyle or diet habits that cause irregular blood sugar levels, symptoms will begin to develop along with the drop or spike in blood sugar, and are as follows:
Important New Guidance For Those With Type 2 Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes are typically advised to aim for levels of blood sugar, or glucosethe energy from food that fuels our cells and organsthat are close to those for people without diabetes. But just how near-normal these levels should go has long been a matter of disagreement.
Today, after reviewing the current guidelines, the American College of Physicians advised that most people with type 2 diabetes not go below 7 percent on the HbA1c test, which measures long-term blood sugar control.
Often, doctors encourage them to strive for an HbA1c of 6.5, which can require high doses of multiple medications.
But when the ACP analyzed the evidence behind the guidelines, they found that bringing blood sugar levels down to between 7 and 8 was enough to reduce the risks of major diabetes complications such as heart attack, stroke, and damage to eyes, nerves, kidneys, and feet.
Going lower than that didnt provide any more benefit, and, in fact, in some cases caused harm by causing blood sugar to drop too low, explains Jack Ende, M.D., president of the ACP. And left untreated for long enough, low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can cause seizures, heart attack, or stroke.
Not everyone agrees. The American Diabetes Association , for example, considers an HbA1c of less than 7 percent suitable for the majority of those with type 2 diabetes.
What To Do If You Have Low Blood Sugar Symptoms
If you have diabetes and are experiencing mild to moderate hypoglycemia symptoms, you need to immediately eat or drink 15 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates.
Very low blood sugar is a medical emergency. If you or someone else with diabetes is experiencing severe symptoms, such as unconsciousness, its important to administer a medication called glucagon and contact emergency services immediately.
If youre at risk for low blood sugar, its important to talk with your doctor about getting a prescription for glucagon.
You should never give an unconscious person anything by mouth, as it could cause them to choke. If you have diabetes, make sure your family and friends know not to do this if you lose consciousness.
Low blood sugar can occur for a number of reasons. Its usually a side effect of diabetes treatment.
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Worst Fruits For Blood Sugar
These fruits tend to have a greater impact on blood sugar. Try to limit them in your diet or follow our suggestions to promote a more gradual rise in blood glucose.
Bananas, 1 medium fruit
- Levels zone score: 5.7
- Avg glucose rise: 34 mg/dL
Because a bananas starch is converted to sugar as it ripens, very ripe bananas have the most significant impact on blood sugar: Their GI can jump into the mid-range at 57, making them a bit more likely to trigger a spike. Eating a banana that hasnt browned yet with nut butter or after a meal containing protein and fats can help reduce this effect. And if you can handle the slightly bitter taste and firmer texture, green bananas are a good choice. They may contain up to 10 grams less sugar and a form of glycemic-friendly starch called resistant starch, which has been linked to improved insulin sensitivity and increased satiety. Since the small intestine doesnt digest resistant starch, it passes to the colon, where it functions as a prebiotic fiber, feeding good bacteria and leading to a slight rise in blood sugar.
- Levels Zone score: 5.5
- Avg glucose rise: 35 mg/dL
Given the high sugar content of just one date, these fruits arent meant for snacking. However, in the context of using a small number of dates as a natural sweetener in desserts, this fruit is a better choice than table sugar: it has a lower glycemic index, and its sugar comes packaged with a small amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
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.
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Signs Of Hypoglycemic Unawareness
Some people have no symptoms of low blood sugar. The only symptom you may have is confusion. Or you may become unconscious before anyone realizes you have low blood sugar.
You may have hypoglycemic unawareness if you:
- Cannot tell by your symptoms that your blood sugar is low.
- Have low blood sugar several times a week.
- Have type 1 diabetes, or have had type 2 diabetes for a long time.
If you have hypoglycemic unawareness, test your blood sugar often, especially before activities like driving a car. Keep quick-sugar foods with you. If you take insulin, carry a glucagon emergency kit. You can also give friends and family instructions to treat low blood sugar.
How Is Hypoglycemia Treated In A Child
Treatment will depend on your childs symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
For children with diabetes, the goal of treatment is to maintain a safe blood glucose level. This is done by:
Testing blood glucose often
Learning to recognize symptoms
Treating the condition quickly
To treat low blood glucose quickly, your child should eat or drink something with sugar such as:
A hard candy
Don’t use carbohydrate foods high in protein such as milk or nuts. They may increase the insulin response to dietary carbohydrates.
Blood glucose levels should be checked every 15 to 20 minutes until they are above 100 dg/dL.
If hypoglycemia is severe, your child may need a glucagon injection. Talk with your childs healthcare team about this treatment.
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What To Look For When Shopping
According to D’Angelo, the word “whole” is a great place to start, such as “whole-wheat flour” or another grain like “whole oats.”
The next thing you can look for is how many carbohydrates are in each serving, as well as the added sugars.
“Everyone is different in terms of how many carbs they need, so talk to a nutritionist or dietitian about your specific amount,” says D’Angelo. “The key here is to get the right amount of carbohydrates because it will improve blood sugar management. And of course, check and see if there are any added sugars to the whole wheat bread that you’re choosing. Some brands use added sugars to help make the bread taste better, but be careful with too much of it as it can spike blood sugar levels.”
Whole Grain Bread And Your Blood Sugar
If you’re wanting to lower or manage your blood sugar, it’s helpful to limit your consumption of refined and processed carbohydrates like baked goods and white bread, for example.
When you eat heavier amounts of processed carbohydrates, your body quickly breaks them down into glucose, which enters your blood and can raise your blood sugar levels.
This can pose a problem for those with diabetes or prediabetes because their bodies struggle to produce insulin properly, and insulin is what helps absorb the glucose from your bloodstream.
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Buying whole-grain bread that is high in these fibrous ingredients and low in refined sugars can be a great way for you to manage your blood sugar. But what should you look for when you’re at the grocery store to make sure you get the best kind?
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Do Not Drive When You Have Low Blood Sugar
It’s very dangerous. If you’re driving and you have hypoglycemia symptoms, pull off the road, check your blood sugar, and eat a sugary food. Wait at least 15 minutes, check your blood sugar, and repeat these steps if necessary. Eat a protein and carbohydrate source before you drive on.
Be prepared. Keep a sugar source in your car at all times for emergencies.
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:
- Attempting to get out of bed or accidentally rolling out of bed.
You may wake up with a headache in the morning if your blood sugar was low during the night.
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Are There Different Recommendations For Blood Sugar Levels In Other Countries
The recommended blood sugar level ranges in countries around the world are very similar. However, there are two different units of measurement that are used when referring to blood sugars, depending on where you live: millimoles per litre and milligrams per decilitre .
The mmol/L measurement is used here in Canada, as well as England, Australia and China, while mg/dL is used in such countries as the United States, France, Japan, Israel and India.
To convert mmol/L to mg/dl, simply multiply by 18. For example, a blood sugar level of 5.0 mmol/L would mean a level of 90 mg/dL .
Here are blood sugar recommendations from some countries other than Canada:
|80 to 130 mg/dL||Less than 180 mg/dL|
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 Is Hypoglycemia In Children
Hypoglycemia is when the level of sugar in the blood is too low. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the brain and the body. The normal range of blood glucose is about 70 to 140 milligrams per deciliter . The amount differs based on the most recent meal and other things, including medicines taken. Babies and small children with type 1 diabetes will have different goal ranges of blood glucose levels than older children.
Here’s How To Prepare
Since it’s difficult to predict how a drink or two will affect your blood sugar, being aware of your body and taking some precautions are your best bets for staying healthy, says Sheth. Here are some things you can do to help:
- Discuss with a diabetes care and education specialist to better understand how you can enjoy alcohol safely. And check with your physician to make sure any medications you are taking won’t negatively interact with alcohol.
- In general, adults with diabetes have the same limit for alcohol intake as other adults no more than one drink per day for a woman and no more than two drinks per day for men. Recognize the size of your drink. One serving of alcohol is five ounces of wine, a 12-ounce beer or one ounce of spirits.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach.
- Sip your alcoholic drink slowly.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- If you are diabetic, check your blood sugar before and more frequently after drinking up to 24 hours later.
- When you drink, it’s good to have a family member or friend around who is aware that you have diabetes.
- Always keep the treatment plan for hypoglycemia in mind and have glucose tablets or gel on hand.
Learn more: Know How to Get the Healthiest Blood Sugar Possible.
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What Causes Hypoglycemia In A Child
Hypoglycemia can be a condition by itself. Or it can be a complication of diabetes or other disorder. Its most often a problem in someone with diabetes. It occurs when theres too much insulin. This is also called an insulin reaction.
Causes in children with diabetes may include:
Too much insulin or oral diabetes medicine
The wrong kind of insulin
Incorrect blood-glucose readings
Tingling feelings around the mouth
Nightmares and confusion on awakening
The symptoms of hypoglycemia can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Tips For Avoiding High And Low Blood Sugars
Walking the tightrope of a life with diabetes is not easy.
We need to strive every day to make sure that we dont let our blood sugars go too high or too low, and that can be exhausting.
Here are some strategies to help keep your blood sugar in balance:
- Eat similar foods and meals that have predictable carbohydrate counts
- Cook food at home, so you know all of the ingredients in your meal
- Keep to a routine, and eat at the same times every day
- Get enough sleep!
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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.
Preventing Low Blood Sugar
Preventing low blood sugar is better than having to treat it. Always have a source of fast-acting sugar with you.
- When you exercise, check your blood sugar levels. Make sure you have snacks with you.
- Talk to your provider about reducing insulin doses on days that you exercise.
- Ask your provider if you need a bedtime snack to prevent low blood sugar overnight. Protein snacks may be best.
DO NOT drink alcohol without eating food. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day and men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. Family and friends should know how to help. They should know:
- The symptoms of low blood sugar and how to tell if you have them.
- How much and what kind of food they should give you.
- When to call for emergency help.
- How to inject glucagon, a hormone that increases your blood sugar. Your provider will tell you when to use this medicine.
If you have diabetes, always wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. This helps emergency medical workers know you have diabetes.
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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.
- 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.