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What Is To Low Blood Sugar Levels

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Normal Blood Sugar Levels For Adults With Diabetes

WHAT IS LOW BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL?LOW BLOOD SUGAR EXPLAINED

Normally, your pancreas releases insulin when your blood sugar, or âblood glucose,â gets high after a meal, for example. That signals your body to absorb glucose until levels get back to normal.

But if you have diabetes, your body doesnât make insulin or doesnât respond to it normally . That can leave your blood sugar too high for too long. Over time, that can damage nerves and blood vessels and lead to heart disease and other problems.

If you have diabetes, your doctor may ask you to keep track of your blood sugar by testing it at home with a special device called a blood glucose monitor or home blood sugar meter. It takes a small sample of blood, usually from the tip of your finger, and measures the amount of glucose in it.

Follow your doctorâs instructions about the best way to use your device.

Your doctor will tell you when and how to test your blood sugar. Each time you do it, log it in a notebook or online tool or in an app. The time of day, recent activity, your last meal, and other things can all affect whether a reading will be of concern to your doctor. So try to log relevant information like:

  • What medication and dosage you took
  • What you ate, when you ate, or whether you were fasting
  • How much, how intense, and what kind of exercise you were doing, if any

That will help you and your doctor see how your treatment is working.

What Is The Best Thing To Eat When Your Blood Sugar Is Low

To avoid overtreating lows with too much simple carbohydrate or food and then facing a rebound high blood sugar, its best to have go-to automatic corrections for hypoglycemia that are quantity limited and unappealing to overeat. Glucose tablets and gels, and candies like Smarties, are predictable, relieve low symptoms quickly, and are hard to overeat. Some people with diabetes count out jelly beans, mini-Swedish Fish, gummies, or hard candy and eat the exact amount that will help their blood sugar. Others take a specific amount of juice or another sugar-containing drink.

How do you know how much of your correction to consume? Similar to the 15-15 rule, the only way to discover exactly how much of your go-to correction your body needs is by checking your glucose levels, eating a source of sugar that has been measured out, and then checking again in roughly 15 minutes. This can help you adjust the amount of your source of sugar to raise your blood sugar to your target , but not overshoot. This is a precision dose of carbs. To learn more, read Adam Browns Defeating the Hypoglycemia Binge.

Do not use a low as a reason to eat treats this can cause your blood sugar to spike later. Plus, it connects a food reward with something you want to avoid , which is an easy way to develop a bad habit.

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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.

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Always Remember ‘if In Doubt Treat’

1. Eat or drink 1 serving of a quick-acting carbohydrate. Each of the following is 1 serving:

  • 3 teaspoons of glucose powder in water
  • of glucose tablets
  • 3 teaspoons of jam or sugar
  • a small glass of sugar-sweetened lemonade or cordial
  • 6 large jelly beans/5 Mentos.

2. After 10 minutes test your blood glucose again. If it is still less than 4mmol/L, have another serving of quick-acting carbohydrate from the list above.

3. Once your blood glucose is above 4mmol/L, eat some carbohydrate food or if it’s your mealtime, eat your meal.

Low Blood Sugar Chart And Action Plan

Hypoglycemia Low Blood Sugar in Adults

Low blood sugar is also called hypoglycemia. The numbers below represent values in the hypoglycemic range and require action to bring blood sugar levels up into a normal range.

Alert Level and Treatment Plan
50 mg/dL or under Red Flag: Blood sugar is critically low and requires immediate treatment.

If a person is unable to speak and/or is not alert, treat with glucagon via injection or nasal spray. Call emergency medical response if necessary. Do not place food or drink into the mouth.

If a person is alert and able to speak clearly, treat with 15 grams of rapid-acting carbohydrate such as glucose gel, 4 oz regular soda, or fruit juice. Re-test blood sugar in 15 minutes and repeat as needed to bring blood sugar within range.

51-70 mg/dL Red Flag: Blood sugar is below normal levels and requires immediate treatment.

Treat with 15 grams of rapid-acting carbohydrate and re-test in 15 minutes. Repeat treatment as needed to bring blood sugar within range.

71-90 mg/dL Yellow Flag: Blood sugar levels should be watched and treated as needed.

If youre having symptoms of low blood sugar, treat with 15 grams of rapid-acting carbohydrate and re-test in 15 minutes.

Repeat treatment or follow with a meal. If it is meal time, move forward with eating the meal. People often fall into this range when they are late for a meal or have been especially active.

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Things To Do If You Have Diabetes

Common things that people with diabetes should avoid include eating lots of simple sugars, eating too much food for the activity theyve performed recently, and not following medication or exercise plans.

Some things that can be harmful to people with diabetes are smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol in excess, and eating large portions of unhealthy foods.

The person should maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. The doctor may also recommend taking insulin or other medications to manage their blood sugar levels.

How To Test Your Blood Sugar At Home

To perform a blood sugar test, you will need to prick your finger with a lancet . Youll put a small sample of blood from this onto a strip inserted into the blood glucose meter.

Before you test your blood sugar at home, its important to find out from your doctor what a healthy blood sugar range is for you. Your doctor will determine this range based on factors such as:

  • the type of diabetes you have
  • how long youve had diabetes
  • your age
  • whether you have any other chronic health conditions

If you dont have a blood sugar testing machine on hand and are experiencing signs or symptoms of low blood sugar with diabetes, your symptoms may be enough to diagnose low blood sugar.

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No Symptoms Be Alarmed

Surprisingly, the most dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia occur with little or no warning. When low blood glucose occurs on a regular basis, the body can become used to the warning signs and the person may stop noticing symptoms. This is a particularly dangerous condition known as hypoglycemic unawareness. People with this condition might not realize they have low blood glucose until it’s dangerously low seizures and coma are sometimes the first indication of a problem. The good news is that this condition can often be reversed allowing people to once again notice the signs of low blood glucose if hypoglycemia is avoided for a few weeks through careful monitoring of blood glucose.

Broccoli And Broccoli Sprouts

How To Treat Low Blood Glucose Levels

Sulforaphane is a type of isothiocyanate that has blood-sugar-reducing properties.

This plant chemical is produced when broccoli is chopped or chewed due to a reaction between a glucosinolate compound called glucoraphanin and the enzyme myrosinase, both of which are concentrated in broccoli .

Test-tube, animal, and human studies have shown that sulforaphane-rich broccoli extract has powerful antidiabetic effects, helping enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar and markers of oxidative stress .

Broccoli sprouts are concentrated sources of glucosinolates like glucoraphanin, and theyve been shown to help promote insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes when supplemented as a powder or extract (

11 ).

Keep in mind that the best way to enhance the availability of sulforaphane is to enjoy broccoli and broccoli sprouts raw or lightly steamed, or to add active sources of myrosinase like mustard seed powder to cooked broccoli (

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Examples Of Appropriate Snacks May Be:

  • 6 saltine crackers
  • 1 slice toast and 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup milk

The food eaten for a reaction need not be subtracted from a meal plan.

Obtain a blood sugar when symptoms occur if you are able. If symptoms are severe, treat the reaction first and then obtain a blood sugar. Do not drive nor operate equipment if you feel your blood sugar is low.

If your blood sugar drops low enough for you to become unconscious, you must be taken to the hospital and/or treated with glucagon.

Glucagon is a hormone that causes the blood sugar to rise. It can only be given by injection. It is used to treat a low blood sugar if a person becomes semi-conscious or unconscious due to a severe low blood sugar. Please ask your nurse for instruction on glucagon. Your doctor will need to write a prescription for glucagon so you can have it available at home.

What Would Blood Sugar Levels Be For Insulin

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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.

Key Points About Hypoglycaemia

How can you lower your blood sugar level quickly?
  • Hypoglycaemia needs to be treated right away to prevent the risk of unconsciousness.
  • Treatment is to have 10 to 15g of a quick-acting carbohydrate immediately, then retest your glucose level in 10 minutes. If it is above 4 mmol/L, have a carbohydrate snack . If it is still below 4 mmol/L, repeat the glucose and retest in 10 minutes.
  • If you have type 1 diabetes, low blood glucose can occur due to having too much insulin or not enough food.
  • If you have type 2 diabetes, you should only be at risk of hypoglycaemia if you are taking insulin or sulphonylurea tablets for your diabetes and miss or delay your meal.
  • With both type 1 or type 2 diabetes, if you are getting hypos often talk to your GP, nurse or diabetes specialist.
  • It is recommended that people with diabetes wear a medical alert bracelet this can alert people you may have hypoglycaemia if you are unable to ask for help.
  • Severe hypoglycaemia is a medical emergency. Call 111 and ask for an ambulance if someone has a blood glucose level less than 4 mmol/l and any one of the following:
    • is extremely drowsy or disorientated
    • is unconscious
    • is having a convulsion .

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    What Causes A Low Blood Sugar Level

    In people with diabetes, the main causes of a low blood sugar level are:

    • the effects of medicine especially taking too much insulin, medicines called sulfonylureas , medicines called glinides , or some antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C
    • skipping or delaying a meal
    • not eating enough carbohydrate foods in your last meal, such as bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes and fruit
    • exercise, especially if it’s intense or unplanned
    • drinking alcohol

    Sometimes there’s no obvious reason why a low blood sugar level happens.

    Very occasionally, it can happen in people who do not have diabetes.

    Checking For Low Blood Sugar Levels

    The warning signs of hypoglycemia are the body’s 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:

    • pale
    • start shaking
    • have an increased heart rate

    If the hypoglycemia isn’t treated, more serious symptoms may happen, such as drowsiness, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

    The only way to know for sure if you’re 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 can’t quickly check your blood sugar level, it’s 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 it’s also released when blood sugar levels fall quickly when they’re too high. If you’re 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 you’re having a false reaction.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Hypoglycaemia

    Symptoms of mild to moderate hypoglycaemia may include one or more of the following:

    • looking pale
    • rapid change in behaviour or irritability
    • confusion
    • blurred vision.

    Over time you come to recognise the feelings you get when your blood glucose goes low. However, if you have had diabetes for a long time, you may not get any symptoms when your blood glucose goes low.

    Take Medications As Prescribed

    Hypoglycemia – What Causes Low Blood Sugar Levels

    Certain diabetes medications can cause low blood sugar. The most common diabetes medications with a risk of hypoglycemia are insulin and sulfonylureas. Avoid changing your medication doses on your own, which might cause low blood sugar.

    If you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes and you take insulin, your risk of low blood sugar is greater than people taking only oral medications.

    Insulin is the most effective medication at lowering blood sugar, which is why it comes with a risk of hypoglycemia.

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    Check Your Blood Sugar Level Regularly

    The best way to become familiar with your blood sugar trends is to check your blood glucose. Checking your blood glucose regularly will help you identify how you respond when your blood sugar is high or low.

    People who check their blood sugar regularly tend to have better blood glucose control compared to those who dont.

    Drink Water And Stay Hydrated

    Drinking enough water could help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy ranges.

    In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out any excess sugar through urine.

    One review of observational studies showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk of developing high blood sugar levels (

    34 ).

    You can do so at home using a portable blood glucose meter, which is known as a glucometer. You can discuss this option with your doctor.

    Keeping track allows you to determine whether you need to adjust your meals or medications. It also helps you learn how your body reacts to certain foods .

    Try measuring your levels regularly every day and keeping track of the numbers in a log. Also, it may be more helpful to track your blood sugar in pairs for example, before and after exercise or before and 2 hours after a meal.

    This can show you whether you need to make small changes to a meal if it spikes your blood sugar, rather than avoiding your favorite meals altogether. Some adjustments include swapping a starchy side for non-starchy veggies or limiting them to a handful.

    Summary

    Checking your blood glucose and maintaining a daily log enables you to adjust foods and medications when necessary to better manage your blood sugar levels.

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