Why Am I Having Lows
If you are experiencing low blood sugar and youre not sure why, bring a record of blood sugar, insulin, exercise and food data to a health care provider. Together, you can review all your data to figure out the cause of the lows.
The more information you can give your health care provider, the better they can work with you to understand what’s causing the lows. Your provider may be able to help prevent low blood sugar by adjusting the timing of insulin dosing, exercise and meals or snacks. Changing insulin doses or the types of food you eat may also do the trick.
What Is Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose, also called low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops below what is healthy for you. For many people with diabetes, this means a blood glucose reading lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter .1 Your number might be different, so check with your doctor or health care team to find out what blood glucose level is low for you.
Dealing With An Episode
The symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia can be mitigated by taking certain steps to return blood glucose levels to normal:
First, follow the “15-15 Rule,” which involves eating 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates and checking your blood sugar after 15 minutes. If its still below 70 mg/dL, have another serving.
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Now Lets Hear From Jessie
My biggest sign of a low blood sugar is that of impending doom. I start to feel a weighted amount of anxiety that is greater than at any other time. I start to shake, and find it hard to concentrate. If Im feeling hopeless, depressed and anxious about something, I check my blood sugar. I am most always trending low when I feel the nervousness set in.
At other times in my life, I have not felt a thing. I will not feel the least bit tired or off, and I will feel like I have some energy. Then, boom! Out of nowhere it hits me, and I have little time to react. I go straight to confusion, not being able to move, and having big floaters in my field of vision. Im grateful to my husband when it hits like that. He knows exactly what to do. Its rather scary.
Im late for things all of the time because of my diabetes, and low blood sugars. Sometimes Im afraid people may think I am just using it to get out of things, but its really quite severe.
What If I Have Severe Low Blood Glucose And Cant Treat Myself
Glucagona hormone that raises blood glucose levelsis the best way to treat severely low blood glucose. Available as an injection or a nasal spray, glucagon will quickly raise your blood glucose level. Your doctor can prescribe you a glucagon kit for use in case of an emergency.
If your blood glucose level drops very low, you wont be able to treat it by yourself. Be prepared to address severely low blood glucose by
- talking with your doctor or health care team about when and how to use a glucagon emergency kit. If you have an emergency kit, regularly check the date on the package to make sure it hasnt expired.
- teaching your family, friends, and coworkers when and how to give you glucagon. Tell them to call 911 right away after giving you glucagon or if you dont have a glucagon emergency kit with you.
- wearing a medical alert identification bracelet or pendant. A medical alert ID tells other people that you have diabetes and need care right away. Getting prompt care can help prevent the serious problems that low blood glucose levels can cause.
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How To Get Your Blood Sugar Up
A quick way to do it is the 15-15 rule:
But donât eat too much — That could send your blood sugar sky-high. Stick with repeat doses of 15 grams until youâre back to normal.
If your blood sugarâs very low or the 15-15 method doesnât work, you may need a shot of glucagon. This is a hormone your body makes that raises your blood sugar fast. Ask your doctor if you should have a glucagon rescue kit on hand. Be sure the people in your life know how to use it if you faint.
Tell your diabetes team any time you have low blood sugar, especially if itâs serious. They can suggest things to do so it doesnât happen as often.
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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How Can I Be Better Prepared For Hypoglycemia
You can take some steps to be ready for hypoglycemia:
- Be aware of the symptoms and treat them early.
- Carry some fast-acting carbs with you all the time.
- Check your glucose levels frequently, especially around meals and exercise.
- Inform family, friends and co-workers so they know what do if you need help.
- Talk to your healthcare provider regularly to make and update your plan.
- Wear a medical bracelet that lets people know you have diabetes. Carry a card in your purse or wallet with instructions for hypoglycemia.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hypoglycemia is quite common in people with diabetes. If not treated, it can cause troubling symptoms, and even serious health problems. Fortunately, you can avoid hypoglycemic episodes by monitoring your blood sugar. You can also make small adjustments to eating and exercising routines.
Who Is Most At Risk For Hypoglycemia
Aside from people with diabetes, Dr. Jennifer Shine Dyer notes that children are more prone toexperience episodes of hypoglycemia because of their smaller body size, as well as having less fat to burn to maintain energy when glucose levels are low. Eating meals every 4 to 6 hours should maintain glucose levels if this is the only cause of hypoglycemia, she says.
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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.
What Does A Sugar Crash Feel Like
You may experience a crash after indulging in high amounts of carbohydrates, especially simple sugars such as cake and ice cream. Although the human body needs sugar, it also needs the amount of sugar to remain at a consistent level.
When the body has more sugar than its used to, it rapidly produces insulin in an attempt to keep the levels consistent. This causes blood glucose to decrease, which results in a sudden drop in energy levels, also known as hypoglycemia, or a sugar crash.
With this drastic drop in energy, the body can experience undesired symptoms such as:
Sugar crashes generally cause us to be incredibly distracted throughout the day, which leads to a lack of productivity and concentration. Confusion, abnormal behavior, the inability to complete routine tasks and blurred vision are also common symptoms, especially for those who have diabetes. People with diabetes may experience more severe symptoms such as loss of consciousness, seizures or coma, if the crash is harsh enough, because of their increased sensitivity to inconsistent sugar levels.
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Symptoms Of Nocturnal Hypoglycemia
It is important for both you and your sleeping partner to know the warning signs. Sleeping through the warning signs is especially dangerous because your blood sugar may go lower before you can correct it. If you sleep alone, you may be at higher risk.
Warning signs occur when your blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dl. When this happens, your body releases hormones like glucagon and epinephrine to increase your blood sugar. This causes warning signs like a racing heart, sweats, and tremors. These warnings are your bodys way of telling you to get more sugar into your system quickly. Hopefully they will wake you from sleep, but some people sleep through.
If hypoglycemia wakes you up, these are the symptoms:
- Being cold and clammy or hot and sweaty
- Feeling shaky and trembling
- A pounding or racing heart
- Waking up with a headache
Your sleeping partner should wake you if he or she notices any of the warning signs or if you are more restless, noisy, or breathing irregularly in your sleep.
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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Why Do Hypos Happen
Understanding why you get hypos can help you prevent them from happening as often.
We dont always know why hypos happen, but some things make them more likely. These include:
- missing or delaying a meal or snack
- not having enough carbohydrate at your last meal
- doing a lot of exercise without having extra carbohydrate or without reducing your insulin dose
- taking more insulin than you needed
- drinking alcohol on an empty stomach.
Insulin and some other diabetes medications can make you more likely to have a hypo. Check with your diabetes healthcare team if youre not sure whether the treatment youre on is likely to cause hypos.
What Can Someone Do To Help Get Your Blood Sugar Up And What Should They Never Do
Never, ever give a diabetic insulin it will more than likely kill them.
Instead, give them something sweet even milk works because of the milk sugar lactose. If the person isnt conscious, use a glucose injection, which all diabetics should have at hand. Instructions are included in the kit. Alternatively, call the emergency services and rub sugar on their gums for fast absorption. Liquid could cause choking at this point.
Once a few minutes have passed, test their blood sugar with glucose monitor to establish if all is okay again though all parties will generally be able to tell!
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What You Can Do
If you have diabetes, a great way to help keep anxiety away is to keep your blood sugar in a safe range. Thatâs not as easy as it sounds. But these tips can make it a bit easier:
Be careful with insulin. Too much of it is the most common reason for low blood sugar. If you’re taking insulin to treat your diabetes, be sure to use the right type and dose every time. When you inject it, make sure to do it just under your skin. A shot into the muscle absorbs too fast and doesnât last as long.
Go low . Some foods make your blood sugar shoot up fast and drop a few hours later. Other foods keep it on a more even keel. A foodâs glycemic index is a good way to know which is which.
It’s a number that gives you an idea of how fast your body turns carbs into sugar. The higher the number, the quicker it happens and the higher your blood sugar will spike. High-glycemic foods include:
- Simple sugars
- Carbs like white bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes
Low-glycemic foods include:
Its All About Balance Moderation And Consistency
The sugar high is all fun and games until the resulting sugar crash affects the quality of your day.
The term refers to the sudden drop in energy levels after consuming a large amount of carbohydrates. This can include pastas and pizza but is usually more common after eating simple carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars, such as desserts.
A sugar crash often causes undesired symptoms that can disrupt productivity and energy levels throughout the day.
Kelsey Herrick, senior dietitian at Sanford Health, suggests balance, moderation and consistency are the most effective ways to avoid these crashes. Herrick shares her knowledge on sugar crashes, how to avoid them and what to do if you get one.
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How Can Parents Help
Nearly every child with diabetes will have an episode of hypoglycemia at times. You can help make this less likely, and be ready if it does happen. Here are some tips:
- Follow your childs diabetes care plan. This is the best way to keep their sugars in a healthy range. The plan will guide you on the timing of:
- blood sugar checks
If you have questions about how to prevent or treat hypoglycemia, or about the diabetes care plan, call your child’s diabetes health care team.
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
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What Else Can You Do To Control Blood Sugar Levels
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.
What Are The Complications Of Low Blood Glucose
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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Hope Has A Milder Experience
I have a low blood sugar on occasion. It usually only happens about once a year, and for that I am grateful. It has only gone as low as 58 . I had to treat it with carbohydrates. It started out with a feeling of apprehension, and then I got pretty shaky. I noticed the beads of sweat starting on my forehead.
I had been to my diabetes classes, so I knew exactly what to do, and I had glucose tablets ready in my purse. I took 3 of them, and I waited 15 minutes and checked again. That time it was 80, so I had a snack coming up. I ate that, and then two hours later, I was at 120 .
So far, my few lows havent caused me too much of a problem. Maybe it is because I dont wait too long, and I always keep my glucometer, supplies, and some quick carbohydrates to deal with a low blood sugar.
Causes Not Related To Diabetes
According to the Endocrine Society, non-diabetes-related hypoglycemia is rare but can occur. There are two types:
- fasting hypoglycemia, often associated with an underlying condition
- reactive hypoglycemia, which occurs within a few hours of a meal
Causes of fasting hypoglycemia may include:
- binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption
- liver, heart, or kidney disease
- tumors that affect the pancreas
- low hormone levels
- certain medications, such as salicylates or sulfa
Causes of reactive hypoglycemia include:
- a person with prediabetes
- enzyme deficiency
- stomach surgery
Doctors are still not clear about what exactly causes reactive hypoglycemia. However, they know people with this condition tend to have excessive insulin in their blood.
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