Causes Of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar is common for people with type 1 diabetes and can occur in people with type 2 diabetes taking insulin or certain medications. The average person with type 1 diabetes may experience up to two episodes of mild low blood sugar each week, and thats only counting episodes with symptoms. If you add in lows without symptoms and the ones that happen overnight, the number would likely be higher.
What If Your Symptoms Persist After You Have Corrected The Hypoglycemia
Many of the symptoms of hypoglycemia are actually effects of the hormone epinephrine . If you do not have the problems listed in the section Hypoglycemia Unawareness on page 340, your adrenal glands will respond to hypoglycemia by producing epinephrine. Epinephrine, like glucagon, signals the liver to convert stored glycogen to glucose. It is epinephrine that brings about such symptoms as rapid heart rate, tremors, pallor, and so on.
Epinephrine has a half-life in the blood of about 1 hour. This means that an hour after your blood sugar comes back to target, about half the epinephrine you made is still in the bloodstream. This can cause a persistence of symptoms, even if your blood sugar is normal. Thus, if you took some glucose tablets an hour ago and still feel symptomatic, check your blood sugar again. If its on target, try to control the temptation to eat more. If your blood sugar is still low, more tablets are warranted.
COPING WITH THE SEVERE HUNGEROFTEN CAUSED BY HYPOGLYCEMIA
Since the effects of glucose tablets are so predictable, the panic element has vanished for me and for most of my patients.
Unfortunately, rapid correction of blood sugar does not always correct the hunger. This may be somehow related to the long half-life of epinephrine and the persistence of symptoms even after restoration of normal blood sugars. My patients and I have successfully coped with this problem in a very simple fashion. You can try the same trick we use.
What Low Blood Sugar Feels Like
Have you seen the video going viral on Facebook right now where four amazing women with type 1 diabetes talk about what low blood sugar feels like?
I love this video, and it inspired me to think about what a low blood sugar feels like for me and to put it into words in this post. I think this is particularly useful for friends and family who may not know or understand what its like.
Please watch the video and consider sharing this post with your loved ones if you feel that it helps explain how you feel when your blood sugar is low.
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Is Sugar Bad For You
If you love sweets, don’t despair. You don’t have to give them up forever. Sugar will raise your blood sugar levels more quickly than other carbs, but diabetes experts now say the total amount of carbs is most important. So keep your serving sizes small and take into account the total carbs and calories.
How Can I Prevent Insulin
- Check your blood sugar regularly.
- Know what causes low blood sugar.
- Eat at regular mealtimes. Do not delay or skip meals and do not eat partial meals.
- Take all medicines exactly as prescribed.
- Check your blood sugar more often when you are exercising more or eating less, or when you are sick, according to your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
- Keep your follow-up appointments with your provider.
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What About The Glycemic Index
Your daily carb total, spread steadily across the day, is one key to good blood sugar control. Some people also use the glycemic index , a rating of how individual foods raise blood sugar levels. Beans and whole-grain breads and cereals have a lower GI than white bread and regular pasta. Juice has a higher GI than whole fruit. Craving a high-GI food? Eat it along with a lower-GI choice to help control your levels.
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Prevention Of Low Blood Sugar
Do not skip or delay meals. If your diet plan includes snacks, make sure to take these.
Measure insulin dosage carefully and inject it properly. If you cannot see well, a family member or a visiting nurse can prepare your insulin injections for you.
Take only the prescribed amount of insulin or oral medication for diabetes that your doctor has ordered.
Keep exercise consistent from day to day. Eat a snack or reduce your insulin prior to unusual exercise.
If you are taking insulin, notify your doctor if you have low blood sugars four or more times per week or if you have a severe low blood sugar. Severe low blood sugars are those less than 40 mg., those requiring help from another person, or those which cause you to have a convulsion or become unconscious.
If you are taking oral medication for your diabetes notify your doctor or nurse if blood sugars are running less than 80 mg. or if you have a severe low blood sugar.
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What Happens When Your Blood Sugar Drops
Each and every cell present in the body does need the energy to function properly. But do you know what the main source of energy is? Well, it might come as a surprise to you but it is the glucose that provides your body with the energy it needs to complete its day to day activities.
Blood sugar is very important and it helps with the proper functioning of the brain, the digestive system and the heart as well. It also helps to maintain the well being of the skin and the vision. But do you as to what happens when your blood sugar drops? Lets read on to learn more about it.
Before knowing or checking for the symptoms of low blood sugar, it is important to learn about the blood sugar levels as well. When the levels are below normal, it is known as Hypoglycemia. You need to check for the symptoms and then opt for a blood glucose test to know if you have low blood sugar.
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.
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How Can I Prevent Hypoglycemic Episodes
The key to preventing hypoglycemic events is managing diabetes:
- Follow your healthcare providers instructions about food and exercise.
- Track your blood sugar regularly, including before and after meals, before and after exercise and before bed.
- Take all your medications exactly as prescribed.
- When you do have a hypoglycemic event, write it down. Include details such as the time, what you ate recently, whether you exercised, the symptoms and your glucose level.
High Blood Sugar Causes
You may be thinking that hyperglycemia can happen just from eating a super-sugary food, but its not really as simple as that. Sure, eating a lot of sugar or carbs can elevate your blood sugar level, but thats typically when your pancreas kicks into gear and creates insulin to move that glucose into cells throughout the body.
But when someone has diabetes, this finely tuned system gets thrown out of whack. In type 2 diabeteswhich accounts for 90% to 95% of diabetes in adults, according to the CDCthe body either cant make enough insulin or cant utilize insulin well, according to the NIDDK. If someone has prediabetes, their blood glucose will be higher than normal but not quite in the type 2 diabetes range yet, per the NIDDK. And in type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin or makes very little.
In any case, the result is extra sugar hanging around the bloodstream, making you feel like total crap in the short term and putting your health at risk in the long term.
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How Can I Stop My Blood Sugar From Crashing
Here are a few ways to avoid hypoglycemic episodes:
- Get in the habit of self-monitoring your blood glucose. Keeping track of when your blood sugar drops can help you recognize aspects of your routine that may be contributing to your hypoglycemia. Dr. Klonoff recommends a continuous glucose monitor. Its the best tool for automatically checking your blood glucose levels around the clock, he says.
- Change your meal plan. When, what, how much, and how often you eat all play a big part in your blood glucose levels. A dietitian can teach you about healthy, well-balanced food choices that will make it easier for you to maintain an acceptable blood sugar range.
- Keep a stash of glucose tablets on hand. With your doctor’s recommendation, make sure you always have glucose tablets with you. You can stick them in your briefcase, purse, car, desk, school locker, etc. You may also want to keep snacks nearbyfor example, cheese or peanut butter crackers, although doctors suggest over-the-counter glucose tablets for more accurate dosage. Do not eat a healthy sugar-free candy bar during hypoglycemia, warns Dr. Klonoff. Its lack of sugar means that it will not raise your blood glucose level sufficiently when you want it to.
- Certain drinks can help get your blood sugar up as well. Try 8 oz. of fruit juice, a soft drink , or a cup of milk.
When To See A Doctor
Dietary changes can help you manage and prevent sugar crashes. However, if youve had surgery or are managing ulcers, you may need to see your doctor for additional treatments.
You should also see your doctor if you continue to have sugar crashes despite dietary changes. Your doctor may check for diabetes or other underlying health conditions.
When blood glucose isnt controlled, it can lead to complications, including:
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The Importance Of Treating Low Blood Sugar Immediately
Always treat hypoglycemia right away. Even if an emergency doesn’t occur, a continued drop in blood sugar levels can affect your thinking – for example, you might not even realize you have to eat or drink something to bring up your blood sugar. That means you’ll have to rely on someone else tohelp you. If no one’s around, things can get much more serious. For instance, you might decide to drive, but because your muscles are affected by low blood sugar, you could be at higher risk to get into an accident.
If your blood sugar drops below 20 mg/dl you may lose consciousnses.This is an emergency situation and requires prompt care as it can leadto serious consequences such as heart attack or a seizure.
Teach people close to you what to be aware of and what to do in case you can’t treat yourself. You might also want to teach them how to test yourblood sugar.
Although it’s useful to know what to do when your blood sugar drops, it’s easier to prevent low blood sugar levels rather than treat it after it’s happened. Monitor your blood sugar levelsregularly with a glucometeror home testing kit. If you continue to have repeated episodes of hypoglycemia, talk to your healthcare professionals to discuss changes to your diabetes treatmentplan.
Feel Like Crap When Blood Sugars In Normal Range
Roxanne0312 said:If you were maintain higher blood sugars for a long time and then your blood sugar goes into a normal range, then your body “thinks” your hypo and send signals as such. Keep testing and wait it out, it does go away. My a1c was 13.5 and took it awhile to adjust to normal blood sugars. I took it down slowly which helped some.
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Warning Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia can cause both short- and long-term complications. Know the signs so that you can treat the condition as soon as you’re aware of it.
As a person living with diabetes, you know how important it is to reduce blood sugar when it is too high, a phenomenon called hyperglycemia. But blood sugar that is too low, or hypoglycemia, is equally critical to avoid.
“Hypoglycemia happens when the amount of blood glucose drops to a level that’s too low to sustain normal functioning,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, who is based in Sparta, New Jersey. “In most people, this is defined as a blood sugar level at or below 70 milligrams per deciliter .”
Hypoglycemia is common among people with type 2 diabetes, according to a review published in June 2015 in the journal PLoS One. Individuals with the condition had an average of 19 mild or moderate episodes of hypoglycemia per year and nearly one severe episode per year on average, according to the researchers. Low blood sugar was particularly common among those taking insulin.
This decrease in blood sugar levels can cause both short-term complications, like confusion and dizziness, as well as more serious issues, including seizures, coma, and, rarely, death, according to the American Diabetes Association .
Hypoglycemia is usually the result of a too-high dose of insulin or a change in diet or exercise habits, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
How To Avoid Low Blood Sugar
For some people, lows can be very scary, but Ive never passed out from a low or had a seizure, so lows dont scare me as such. But I will still do everything I can to avoid them!
I rarely have lows, and I think there are several reasons for that. Most importantly, I wear a CGM. Since my CGM warns me before I go low, I can be proactive and prevent it from happening. I also test my blood sugars frequently and have spent a lot of time figuring out my insulin needs for different times of the day, types of exercise, and types of food. It didnt happen overnight, but Im happy to say that for me, low blood sugars are rarely severe and they are far apart.
We all experience lows differently, but I think anybody who has ever experienced what low blood sugar feels like will agree that its beyond uncomfortable!
Next time one of your loved ones asks how do you feel when your sugar is low? consider showing them this post and the video. Its impossible to fully understand if you have never tried it yourself, but at least this post should give them some understanding of what you are going through.
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Preventing Low Blood Sugar
Eating regular meals and snacks is the best way to keep blood sugar on an even keel. Here are some guidelines for those who have had recurring bouts of hypoglycemia:
Try not to skip or delay meals. Dont go more than three hours without eating something.
Avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol can cause blood sugar to drop.
Have a light snack before exercising. Good choices are crackers and peanut butter, yogurt and fruit, half a turkey sandwich, or a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk. A snack at bedtime can help keep blood sugar levels normal during the night.
If you have diabetes, you need to match your carbohydrate intake to your diabetes medications to avoid low blood sugar. A or diabetes educator can help you put together an eating plan. If you take mealtime insulin like insulin aspart , insulin lispro , or insulin glulisine , make sure you eat the right amount of carbohydrates at your meal to match your insulin dosage. Skipping meals or not eating enough carbohydrates can cause your blood sugar level to dip significantly.
How To Treat A Low Blood Sugar Level Yourself
Follow these steps if your blood sugar level is less than 4mmol/L or you have hypo symptoms:
You do not usually need to get medical help once you’re feeling better if you only have a few hypos.
But tell your diabetes team if you keep having hypos or if you stop having symptoms when your blood sugar level is low.
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