The Dangers Of Low Blood Glucose
At some time, most people with diabetes experience the sweating and shakiness that occurs when blood glucose levels fall below 70 mg/dl a condition known as hypoglycemia. The average person with type 1 diabetes may experience symptoms of low blood glucose up to two times a week. However, not all are aware that these symptoms can rapidly progress to seizures, coma and even death if hypoglycemia is severe. Though hypoglycemia can be common and occur repeatedly in some people with diabetes, symptoms of low blood glucose should always be taken seriously. People with diabetes and their families, friends or coworkers should be prepared to act quickly and responsibly at the earliest signs of low blood glucose.
When To Avoid Exercise
People with blood sugar levels above 240 mg/dL should check their urine for ketones before engaging in physical activity. If ketones are present, do not exercise. Ketones are the result of stored fat being broken down for energy. Your liver starts breaking down fat when theres not enough insulin in your bloodstream to absorb blood sugar into cells. When too many ketones are quickly produced, they can cause DKA. In this state, ketones may actually make your blood sugar level go even higher and you may need intravenous fluids to rebalance.
Do Not Drive With Low Blood Sugar
People will need to avoid driving while they have low blood sugar levels as it could be dangerous. People will need to wait until their levels return to within a normal range before driving.
If people start to experience symptoms of hypoglycemia while driving, they will need to safely stop the car and check their blood sugar levels.
People may find it helpful to store quick-acting carbohydrates, such as orange juice or glucose tablets, in their car if their levels drop while driving.
If people have hypoglycemia or diabetes, they can discuss an eating plan with a healthcare provider. Tips may include the following:
- eating snacks and small meals around every three hours throughout the day
- opting for a variety of foods, including protein, high-fat foods, and high-fiber foods
- limiting foods high in sugar
may help . These include:
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Overdose Of Diabetes Medication
A common cause of hypoglycaemia is taking too much insulin for your current needs. Insulin is a medication that helps control your blood glucose levels. It’s commonly used to treat type 1 diabetes and is also recommended for some people with type 2 diabetes.
A fall in blood glucose levels can also occur after taking too much oral hypoglycaemia medication, such as sulphonylurea, which causes a release of insulin. This medication is often used to lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
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.
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What Are Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Early symptoms of low blood sugar can include:
- Tingling or numbness in the lips, tongue or cheeks
Some people with diabetes do not have symptoms during the early stages of low blood sugar in what is called hypoglycemia unawareness. Because people with hypoglycemia unawareness do not have symptoms, they do not treat their low blood sugar early on, and they are more likely to have severe symptoms. Hypoglycemia unawareness often occurs in people who:
- Have had type 1 diabetes for more than 5 to 10 years
- Use insulin to control blood sugar levels
- Are tired
- Take medicines for high blood pressure or diabetes
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.
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What To Eat When Blood Sugar Is Low And You Cant Wait
What are the best foods to get out of hypoglycemia fast? When your blood sugar is really low and you cant waste any time to bring it up, you need to use easily-absorbable foods containing glucose. These are best in a liquid form. Here are three examples of fast acting, blood glucose-raising drinks:
- Classic coke
- Grape juice
These three have very high glycemic index and they will raise blood sugar in a hurry. These picker-uppers can take you out of hypoglycemia symptoms in a flash, but not without consequences.
What NOT to drink when blood sugar is low
In case of severe hypoglycemia, make sure that you reach for high glucose drinks, not just any drinks that taste sweet. Here is an example of the ones, you shouldnt drink if you want fast results.
- tomato juice
- apple juice
These three do not contain enough glucose to save you from already developed hypoglycemia symptoms, but they have enough sugar to prevent dropping blood sugar from turning into severe hypoglycemia.
It is true that Coke, Gatorade, grape juice are perfect hypoglycemia solutions, but there is one problem: they are also one of the biggest contributor to hypoglycemia symptoms .
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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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.
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 (
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.
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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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.
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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What To Eat When Your Blood Sugar Is Low
Diabetes is increasing in prevalence worldwide, and unfortunately, more people are becoming familiar with this chronic disease.
Diabetes affects the pancreas and its ability to produce the hormone insulin. When the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed, or when the body doesnt respond to insulin as well as it should, blood glucose levels rise, and diabetes develops.
Having diabetes means that your pancreas cant automatically keep your blood sugar levels where they should be. People without diabetes may never appreciate how efficient the pancreas is at releasing insulin when it should and the liver releasing sugar to prevent low blood sugar.
When you have diabetes, one of the main goals is to keep blood sugar levels from going too high and too low. It can seem like a balancing act sometimes since many factors can influence blood sugar levels. Despite the best diabetes management plan and healthy habits, there may still be a time when someone with diabetes experiences low blood sugar.
Where Can I Find Support For My Hypoglycemia
The Hypoglycemia Support Foundation, established nearly 40 years ago, is a national group that offers many resources, including advocacy. They offer salons so that you can personally connect with people like you who are also dealing with bouts of low blood sugar.
Occasionally blood sugar crashes are so extreme they require emergency room care for an immediate dextrose IV treatment. If you have diabetes, wear a medical bracelet so that emergency personnel or bystanders who call for help are aware of this information. Its also a good idea to have a circle of people who serve as close contacts and are aware of your condition and how to help.
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How Are Low Blood Sugar Levels Treated
Your diabetes health care team will give you guidelines for treating low blood sugar levels, depending on your symptoms. If you can, try to test your blood sugar levels to make sure that your symptoms are because of hypoglycemia. If you can’t test blood sugar immediately, don’t delay in treating your symptoms you can always check your blood sugar after you’ve taken steps to get your blood sugar back up into the normal range.
When blood sugar levels are low, the goal is to get them back up quickly. To do that, you should take in sugar or sugary foods, which raise the blood sugar level quickly. Your health care team might suggest that you:
- Eat, drink, or take something that contains sugar that can get into the blood quickly. Your doctor may tell you to have really sugary foods or drinks or might give you glucose tablets or gel to take all of these can help to raise your blood sugar level fast, which is what you need to do when it’s low.
- Wait about 10 minutes to let the sugar work.
- Recheck your blood sugar level with a glucose meter to see if blood sugar levels are back to normal.
- Get a glucagon shot , if your symptoms are severe or get worse after you eat, drink, or take glucose.
Sometimes, blood sugar levels can get so low that you may not be awake enough to eat or drink something to get them back up. When this happens, you may need a glucagon shot.
What Are The Treatments For Hypoglycemia
Make an appointment with an endocrinologist if you feel like youre having episodes of hypoglycemia, even if youre not diabetic. Theyll talk you through treatment strategies, including:
Adjusting your medications. You may need to change how often you take insulin or other medications, which medications youre on, how much you take, and when you take them.
Working with a registered dietitian on a personalized meal plan that stabilizes blood sugar levels. Theres no one-size-fits-all hypoglycemia diet, but a nutritionist can help you figure out a consistent meal plan tailored to you, and teach you how to count carbohydrate grams to go along with your health and routine.
Increasing and improving self-monitoring of your blood glucose levels. Knowing your blood glucose level throughout the daywhen you get up, before meals, and after meals etc.can help you keep it from getting too low.
Limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol interferes with the way your body metabolizes glucose. If you’re prone to hypoglycemia, consider decreasing how much alcohol you consume.
Glucose tablets . Make sure you always have glucose tablets on hand, whether at home, school, the office, or the gym. After taking the tablet, check your blood sugar. If its still low, take another tablet. If that doesnt help, check with your doctor.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Glucose
Signs of low blood sugar vary from person to person and can even be various from one episode to the next. You might experience particular signs the first time your blood sugar dips, and different signs the next time. The most frequent mild to moderate symptoms of low blood sugar include:
jitters or shaking
More severe signs of hypoglycemia include:.
inability to eat or drink. seizures. unconsciousness. Sometimes, a condition called hypoglycemia unawareness can establish after regular episodes of low blood sugar. This takes place due to the fact that the body gets used to low blood sugar, so symptoms end up being harder to determine.
Hypoglycemia unawareness can be dangerous, as it lowers the opportunity for dealing with low blood sugar level and increases the probability of serious hypoglycemia. For moderate to moderate symptoms, you can usually take actions yourself to get your levels into the regular variety. For severe signs, its essential to get immediate medical support. Also check Anxiety and anxious meaning.
Does Everyone Have Symptoms From Hypoglycemia
Some people dont have symptoms or dont notice them. Healthcare providers call that situation hypoglycemia unawareness. People with such a challenge arent aware when they need to do something about their blood sugar. Theyre then more likely to have severe episodes and need medical help. People with hypoglycemia unawareness should check their blood sugar more often.
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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
What Is Hypoglycemia And Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia is the state of having a blood glucose level that is too low to effectively fuel the body’s cells.
Glucose, which comes from carbohydrates found in foods, is a main source of energy for all of the cells of the body and, especially, the brain. While the body is quite good at extracting glucose from the foods we eat, it relies on a hormone called insulin to actually get the glucose inside the cells of specific organs: the liver, fat, and muscle.
We can think of insulin as holding the key to a cell without insulin, the glucose just remains in the blood, where its also known as blood sugar. During an episode of hypoglycemia, theres not enough glucose in the blood. The normal range is approximately 70 to 150 mg/dl .
Hypoglycemia is most common in newborns. In older children, its most often seen as a complication of insulin therapy for diabetes but can sometimes have other causes as well.
In the majority of cases, hypoglycemia is temporary, easily treated, and usually does not have serious consequences. There are several rare disorders in which hypoglycemia is recurrent and potentially life-threatening. However, with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, these can be effectively managed.
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