What Causes A Drop In Blood Sugar Levels
Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to enter the cells where it is used for energy. The pancreas releases insulin in response to high blood sugar levels. When glucose enters the cell, it leaves the bloodstream, causing a blood sugar drop.
There are several potential causes of low blood glucose levels, which well discuss below.
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.
Your Diabetes Devices And Hypoglycemia
Several insulin pumps are now available that make managing blood sugar levels easier, particularly when connected to a glucose meter or a CGM.
Some of the most important advantages of CGM devices are the improved insulin control and the ability to detect trends and lows early. With improved technology, it is now possible for parents to track blood sugar trends in their kids even when they are hundreds of miles apart .
In addition, automated insulin delivery systems, also known an artificial pancreas or a hybrid closed-loop system, will automatically adjust insulin to match your bodys need to help you spend more time in your target range.
Resources that provide people with T1D and their families with more detailed information about pumps and CGM devices are available through JDRF here. For people looking for a deeper understanding of technology that helps people with T1D better manage their blood sugar, JDRF resources are available here.
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Too Much Insulin Or Diabetes Medications
Many people take diabetes medications to manage their blood sugar levels. Out of all the available diabetes medicines, injectable insulin carries the greatest risk of low blood sugar, especially rapid-acting insulin.
Because insulin lowers blood sugar, taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications can cause hypoglycemia.
What Should I Do If My Blood Sugar Is Over 300
A reading above 300 mg/Dl is considered severe, and if it remains persistent for two days, you should inform your doctor. Blood sugar above 300 may cause nausea, blurred vision, confusion, and dizziness. To treat this condition, make sure you are taking your medication timely, avoid carbohydrates, or eliminate and exercise regularly.
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What Can Cause A Sudden Blood Sugar Drop
There are a variety of factors which can cause a sudden blood sugar drop to occur, including eating the wrong combination of foods, exercising too strenuously without eating enough, taking certain herbal supplements or medications, and dining on the wrong kind of sugars and carbohydrates. Those with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to experience sudden blood sugar changes, but anyone can suffer from an occasional episode unless steps are taken to prevent it. Most sudden drops in blood glucose levels in non-diabetics stem from improper diet and too much physical activity.
Those with Type 1 diabetes or hypoglycemia are the most at risk for a sudden blood sugar drop. This can be caused by not properly monitoring food intake and combining the wrong foods for proper blood glucose control. For instance, eating refined carbohydrates leads to a rapid increase in blood sugar. This spike is generally followed by a dramatic drop in glucose levels shortly after. Some studies have shown that combining refined carbohydrates or sweets with protein may also exacerbate low blood sugar because the added protein affects the way the body absorbs and processes glucose.
Treating Low Blood Sugar
If blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL, it should be treated by consuming food or drink containing 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Fruit juice and candies are preferred as they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. It doesnt take much juice to get to 15 grams of carbohydrates about one-half cup will suffice.
Glucose tablets or glucose gels are a popular treatment for low blood sugar because theyre easy to have on hand in all different types of situations.
They dissolve quickly and provide pure glucose, so the blood sugar rapidly absorbs them to raise blood sugar. They are available over the counter without a prescription, so this is a convenient option for most people.
For cases of severe hypoglycemia, you can use a glucagon injection. Like insulin, glucagon is a hormone the pancreas produces. However, glucagon has the opposite effect as insulin as it stimulates the breakdown of liver glycogen stores into glucose, which raises blood sugar.
Medical professionals must prescribe glucagon injections. Theyre especially helpful to use when hypoglycemia is severe, or the person is too unresponsive to take in food or drink to treat the low blood sugar.
* An unresponsive person should always receive emergency medical treatment.*
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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.
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 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.
Intermittent Fasting Reduces Blood Sugar
The benefits of intermittent fasting extend far beyond weight loss. Studies show it can reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease because it improves the regulation of your blood sugar, increases your resistance to stress, and suppresses inflammation.
A case study published in the US National Library of Medicine showed patients with type 2 diabetes who participated in an intermittent fasting protocol lost weight and managed to stop insulin therapy. In studies where weight loss didnt occur, fasting still improved the glucose levels of participants.
This latter finding is significant because it confirms that a reduction in bloodstream glucose is not a secondary benefit of weight loss, but a direct result of intermittent fasting. This reduction in blood sugar could be due to the changes in signaling pathways and metabolic rhythm that fasting invokes, as well as an increase in ketones.
Improvements in blood sugar tend to be dependent on fasting. Your blood sugar will typically improve after 2-4 weeks of compliance with a fasting protocol, and it dissipates if you return to eating three meals or more per day.
You may be able to maintain your weight loss after you stop fasting, but long-term fasting is recommended if you need to continue to regulate your blood sugar.
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.
The Blood Sugar Level Regulation Mechanism
When you eat rice, bread, or any other typical food high in carbohydrates, it is digested by the stomach and small intestine, where it is absorbed into the blood as glucose. Figure 1 shows how it is absorbed into the body.
Figure 1: Absorption of glucose
When glucose enters the bloodstream, insulin facilitates its uptake into the body’s cells. When an excess of glucose is ingested, insulin over secretion occurs. Insulin increases the biosynthesis of fat and suppresses its breakdown. Thus, it becomes easier for fat to accumulate in body tissues.
Blood sugar level will not drop if the sugar in the blood is not properly processed due to, for example, too little insulin being secreted, or resistance to the action of insulin. If blood sugar levels have not decreased several hours after eating on a regular basis, this indicates a susceptibility to diabetes. To avoid this and stay healthy, we should eat types of foods that will not cause a sudden, extreme rise in blood sugar levels.
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What is a healthy blood sugar level
- Fasting blood sugar level 99mg/dL
- Postprandial blood sugar level 7.8mmol/L
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Structural Analysis And Synthesis
Purified animal-sourced insulin was initially the only type of insulin available for experiments and diabetics. was the first to produce the crystallised form in 1926. Evidence of the protein nature was first given by , , and Philip A. Shaffer in 1924. It was fully proven when Hans Jensen and Earl A. Evans Jr. isolated the amino acids phenylalanine and proline in 1935.
The amino acid structure of insulin was first characterized in 1951 by , and the first synthetic insulin was produced simultaneously in the labs of at the and at in the mid-1960s. was achieved by Chinese researchers in 1965. The complete 3-dimensional structure of insulin was determined by in s laboratory in 1969.
The first genetically engineered, synthetic human insulin was produced using in 1978 by and at the of the in collaboration with at . Genentech, founded by Swanson, Boyer and , went on in 1982 to sell the first commercially available biosynthetic human insulin under the brand name . The vast majority of insulin used worldwide is biosynthetic recombinant human insulin or its analogues. Recently, another approach has been used by a pioneering group of Canadian researchers, using an easily grown plant, for the production of much cheaper insulin.
Two other Nobel Prizes have been awarded for work on insulin. British molecular biologist , who determined the of insulin in 1955, was awarded the 1958 . received the 1977 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the development of the for insulin.
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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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.
How Insulin Works
During digestion, foods that contain carbohydrates are converted into glucose. Most of this glucose is sent into your bloodstream, causing a rise in blood glucose levels. This increase in blood glucose signals your pancreas to produce insulin.
The insulin tells cells throughout your body to take in glucose from your bloodstream. As the glucose moves into your cells, your blood glucose levels go down. Some cells use the glucose as energy. Other cells, such as in your liver and muscles, store any excess glucose as a substance called glycogen. Your body uses glycogen for fuel between meals.
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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.
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.