Causes Symptoms Diagnosis Treatments And Support
With Elena Christofides and Jennifer Shine Dyer MD, MPH
When youre diabetic, a severe drop in blood sugar can strike even when youre doing everything right. Glucose is your bodys main source of energy and fuels your brain, so its critical to recognize the early signs of an episode before it becomes severe enough to cause you to pass out or worse. Were here to empower you with clear answers to all your pressing Qs.
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Type 1 Diabetes Low Blood Sugar Symptoms
Type 1 diabetes in an autoimmune disease where a persons pancreas doesnt produce insulina hormone needed to convert food into energy. It affects children and adults, comes on suddenly, and it cannot be prevented or cured. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a common and dangerous occurance with type 1 diabetes. If your blood sugar gets too low it may lead to insulin shock, which is life-threatening if not cared for. Low blood sugar can happen when your body has too little foodor glucoseor when it produces too much insulin. Type 1 diabetes hypoglycemia symptoms So what are the low blood sugar symptoms you should look out for? Its important to realize that the signs of low blood sugar will vary depending on the person. However, people with type 1 diabeteswhether its been diagnosed or notmay experience one or more of the following: -Sweating and shaking -Blurry vision -Poor coordination -Dizziness or feeling lightheaded -Difficulty concentrating -Feeling anxious or irritable -Hunger or nausea -Erratic changes in behavior What to do if you experience low blood glucose symptoms Severely low blood-sugar levels can lead to hypoglycemic seizures, unconsciousness, coma, and death if left untreated. Thats why its important to see a doctor if you think you have low blood sugar so he or she can check your blood-glucose levelslook into whether type 1 diabetes may be a causeand provide the necessary treatment. Your support is more critical than everContinue reading > >
How Do You Feel When Your Blood Sugar Is Too High Or Too Low
Blood sugar can fluctuate easily, particularly in those involved in exercises or those taking diabetic medications. As both the extremes of high or low blood sugar is dangerous, it is important to keep blood sugar within the ideal range. This article deals about how you feel when your blood sugar is too high or too low. So, how do you feel when your blood sugar is too high or too low. Let us explore more about this.
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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.
How Common Is Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose is common among people with type 1 diabetes and among people with type 2 diabetes who take insulin or some other diabetes medicines. In a large global study of people with diabetes who take insulin, 4 in 5 people with type 1 diabetes and nearly half of those with type 2 diabetes reported a low blood sugar event at least once over a 4-week period.2
Severely low blood glucose, defined as when your blood glucose level drops so low you cant treat it yourself, is less common. Among U.S. adults with diabetes who take insulin or some diabetes medicines that help the pancreas release insulin into the blood, 2 in 100 may develop severely low blood glucose each year.3
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How To Treat Someone Who’s Having A Seizure Or Fit
Follow these steps if someone has a seizure or fit caused by a low blood sugar level:
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to have a seizure or fit.
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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Low Blood Sugar Without Diabetes
Low blood sugar is uncommon in people who don’t have diabetes.
Possible causes include:
- eating large carbohydrate-based meals this is called “reactive hypoglycaemia”
- binge drinking
- fasting or malnutrition
- having a gastric bypass
- other medical conditions including Addison’s disease a non-cancerous growth in the pancreas or a problem with the liver, kidneys or heart
- some medicines, including quinine
See your GP if you think you keep getting low blood sugar. They can arrange some simple tests to check if your blood sugar level is low and try to find out what’s causing it.
A Low Blood Sugar Level And Driving
You may still be allowed to drive if you have diabetes or you’re at risk of a low blood sugar level for another reason, but you’ll need to do things to reduce the chance of this happening while you’re driving.
You also need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and your car insurance company about your condition.
For more information, see:
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What Causes Hypoglycemia
If you have diabetes, there are common triggers 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 Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is a condition caused by low blood glucose levels. Glucose is the main way your body gets energy. The condition is most common in people with diabetes who have issues with medicine, food, or exercise. But sometimes people who don’t have diabetes can also get low blood glucose. There are two kinds of nondiabetic hypoglycemia:
- Reactive hypoglycemia, which happens a few hours after you eat a meal
- Fasting hypoglycemia, which might be linked to medicine or a disease
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How Is It Treated
If you often have symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should see your healthcare provider. Your provider can help you determine the cause. Your provider will also give you guidelines for treating low blood sugar when you are having symptoms.
When you see your provider, be sure to take your notebook or glucose meter with all of the results of your recent blood sugar checks. This helps your provider know whether you are on the right medicines and are taking the right dose at the right time of day. Without this record, it is harder for your provider to help you figure out the cause of your symptoms.
Here are some examples of guidelines your provider may give you:
- If you have diabetes and you think your blood sugar may be too low, check it with your home meter before treatment, if possible.
- Always carry some form of sugar you can eat as soon as you have any symptoms of hypoglycemia. The following amounts and types of foods will bring your blood sugar level up:
- 2 to 5 glucose tablets
- 1/2 cup fruit juice
- 1/2 cup regular soda
- 6 to 8 ounces of skim milk
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup of raisins
- 5 to 7 pieces of hard candy like Lifesavers
- a tube of glucose in gel form
- 1 tablespoon of molasses, corn syrup, or honey
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 It
Hypoglycemia is low blood glucose , usually less than 70 mg/dl . It means the body has too much insulin, too little glucose, or both. This can happen if:
you don’t eat enough food, or you don’t eat on time
you are taking too much diabetes medication
you exercise a lot
you drink alcohol without eating enough food
Certain diabetes medications, including insulin and some pills, can also make blood glucose more likely to go low.
What If The 15
If you dont feel better after three tries, or if your symptoms get worse, call your healthcare provider or 911. Healthcare providers can use a medication called glucagon. They inject it with a needle or squirt it up your nose. Glucagon is also available for home use. Your healthcare provider can prescribe it and teach a family member or friend how to use it in the event of severe hypoglycemia.
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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.
Foods For Low Blood Sugar
For 15 grams of carbohydrates, try:1
- 1/2 cup of fruit juice or regular soda
- 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey
- Jellybeans or hard candiessee the package to determine how many
- Premeasured glucose tabs or gel
Once your blood glucose has stabilized in a safe range, eat longer-acting carbohydrates such as a sandwich, yogurt or fruit.2
Some people don’t feel any warning signs of low blood glucose. This is known as “hypoglycemia unawareness.”1 If you can’t feel low blood glucose coming on, talk to your healthcare provider about carefully monitoring your blood glucose levels, fine-tuning your insulin therapy to help you avoid lows.
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Dont Drive When You Have Low Blood Sugar
It’s 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 needed. Eat a protein and carbohydrate source before you drive on. Be prepared. Keep a sugar source, such as glucose tablets, in your car at all times for emergencies.
Preventing Low Blood Sugar Levels
Here are some other tips to help you avoid low blood sugar levels:
- Eat all your meals and snacks on time and try not to skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
- Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly, so you can tell if your blood sugars are running too low and your treatment plan needs adjustment.
- Carry something containing sugar with you at all times and take it right away if you have symptoms. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away they may get worse!
Alcohol and drugs can cause major problems with your blood sugar levels, so avoiding them is another way to prevent diabetes problems. Drinking can be particularly dangerous even deadly for people with diabetes because it messes up the body’s ability to keep blood glucose in a normal range. This can cause a very rapid drop in blood glucose in people with diabetes. Drug or alcohol use is also dangerous because it may affect someone’s ability to sense low blood sugar levels.
Learning how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar levels and get them back to normal is an important part of caring for diabetes. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels and recording lows when they occur will help you and your diabetes health care team keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
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What Are Clinical Trials For Low Blood Glucose
Clinical trialsand other types of clinical studiesare part of medical research and involve people like you. When you volunteer to take part in a clinical study, you help doctors and researchers learn more about disease and improve health care for people in the future.
Researchers are studying many aspects of low blood glucose levels in diabetes, such as
- how to diagnose and treat low blood glucose among people with diabetes
- medicines that can treat symptoms of low blood glucose in people with hypoglycemia unawareness
- educational approaches to reduce fear of low blood glucose, which can make it harder for you to control your diabetes
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.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia tends to present as a cluster of symptoms, and they often occur together. The most common signs of dangerously low blood sugar include:
- Dizziness, disorientation, light-headedness, and an inability to think clearly
- Hunger, especially if youve just eaten
- Heightened irritability, confusion, and anxiety
- Clamminess and sweating, with cold hands and feet
- Drastic mood swings
If you have one or more of these symptoms contact your doctor.
Act Quickly To Treat The Situation
If you suspect you have low blood sugar, Dr. Fruge recommends quickly treating the situation, which she says should include “eating healthy foods such as complex carbohydrates, beans or fruit.”
“At the Pritikin Longevity Center we serve a cup of fruit with a cup of veggies to prevent a spike in insulin, which can sometimes lead to a later drop in blood sugar again,” she explains. “Adjusting your diabetes medication as prescribed by your physician may also be necessary. It’s important to retest your blood sugar 20 minutes after eating to confirm it has improved.”
Keep a fast-acting carbohydrate snack or two on hand in case your blood sugar dips below healthy levels.
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