What Extreme Conditions Can Occur If Hypoglycemia Is Left Untreated
Although severe episodes which can trigger potentially life-threatening comas are rare, they require immediate emergency room care, so its best to make sure you are tracking your blood sugar so that you never have to worry about getting to that point. A drop in blood sugar means less fuel for your brain, so its critical for your body to receive enough glucose. Hypoglycemia that leads to extended, reduced brain function is the biggest concern, as this can lead to seizures and loss of basic bodily functions controlled by the brain, which can ultimately lead to death, explains Dr. Dyer.
Treating Someone Having A Seizure
Follow these steps if someone has a seizure due to low blood sugar:
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to have a seizure.
When To Contact Your Doctor
Hyperglycemia can turn into a medical emergency like DKA and HHS that requires immediate intervention by your doctor or a local emergency department. If you have two blood sugar readings of 300 mg/dL or more, or have blood sugar above your target range for more than a week, seek immediate medical help.
Signs of hyperglycemia include:
- Stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
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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
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.
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What Are Blood Sugar Targets
A blood sugar target is the range you try to reach as much as possible. These are typical targets:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL.
- Two hours after the start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL.
Your blood sugar targets may be different depending on your age, any additional health problems you have, and other factors. Be sure to talk to your health care team about which targets are best for you.
Can Prediabetes Be Reversed
For some, prediabetes is reversible if it is the simple result of weight gain and unhealthy habits. For many, however, prediabetes is the result of the bodys gradual destruction of beta-cells.
Beta-cells play a critical role in insulin production. More and more research today regarding type 2 diabetes demonstrates that approximately 60 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are experiencing a lack of insulin production through beta cell dysfunction and destruction.
It is now well recognized that 2 factors are involved: impaired function and insulin resistance, explains John E. Gerich, MD, in a study published by the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Prospective studies of high-risk populations have shown insulin-resistance and/or insulin-secretory defects before the onset of impaired glucose tolerance.
This means that while you should absolutely still pursue healthier habits around nutrition, exercise, weight-loss, sleep, quitting smoking, the gradual progression of your disease means your diagnosis is here to stay.
That being said, making any changes you can in your habits can play a tremendous role in whether or not you need to start taking diabetes medications or if you need to start insulin injections to help bring your blood sugars down to a healthy level.
Read more on reversing diabetes: Is Type 2 Diabetes Reversible?
Prediabetes is diabetes. The sooner you take action, the sooner you improve your health.
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What Causes Low Blood Sugar In The Morning
The causes of low blood sugar in the morning vary. If you have diabetes, you likely need to adjust your background insulin levels. Make sure youre aware of how any other medications you take can affect your blood sugar. Your doctor can help you make sure that your insulin dosage and any other medications you take are a good fit with your diet and exercise routines. Additionally, alcohol usage is a risk for hypoglycemia.
If you dont have diabetes, hypoglycemia is less likely to occur. However, some non-diabetes-related causes of hypoglycemia include the following:
- drinking too much alcohol the previous night, which makes it harder for your liver to release glucose into your blood, thus causing a low blood sugar
- chronic starvation
Treating low blood sugar is fairly simple. If you wake up with hypoglycemia symptoms, try to consume about 15 grams of carbohydrates as soon as possible. Snacks that provide this include:
- 3 glucose tablets
- 1/2 cup of non-sugar-free fruit juice
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 can of non-diet soda
Make sure you dont eat too much to treat low blood sugar, as this can have an opposite affect and make your levels too high. Wait 15 minutes after your first snack. If youre not feeling better, have another 15 grams of carbohydrates. Pairing your carbohydrate with a protein and healthy source of fat, such as nuts, seeds, cheese, or hummus, helps to keep you full and prevent another big drop in blood sugar.
What Causes A Low Blood Sugar Level
In people with diabetes, the main causes of a low blood sugar level are:
- the effects of medicine especially taking too much insulin, medicines called sulfonylureas , medicines called glinides , or some antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C
- skipping or delaying a meal
- not eating enough carbohydrate foods in your last meal, such as bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes and fruit
- exercise, especially if it’s intense or unplanned
- drinking alcohol
Sometimes there’s no obvious reason why a low blood sugar level happens.
Very occasionally, it can happen in people who do not have diabetes.
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Possible Causes Without Diabetes
Even if you dont have diabetes, you may experience low blood sugar. However, hypoglycemia is much less common in people without diabetes.
Some possible causes of low blood sugar in people who dont have diabetes are:
- certain medications, such as quinine
- some medical conditions, such as hepatitis and kidney disorders
- a tumor that produces excess insulin
- endocrine disorders, such as adrenal gland deficiency
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”
- 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.
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How Do Diabetics Correct Low Blood Sugar
Consume or consume carbs Consume or consume anything that is mostly composed of sugar or carbs to increase your blood sugar level rapidly. Pure glucose, which is available in tablet, gel, and other forms, is the therapy of choice. More fatty foods, such as chocolate, have a slower effect on blood sugar levels.Metformin-induced hypoglycemiaMetformin often does not induce hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. In rare instances, hypoglycemia may occur if metformin is used with: a poor diet. severe exertion.
So What Do I Need To Know
Maybe it’s more accurate to say that people with type 2 diabetes who take certain types of medication are more at risk for lows. We’re getting closer! But to get to the truth, we should take a look at someone without diabetes. Is it possible for them to have lows, too?
Theoretically yes, especially if doing long-lasting physical activities without proper food intake. Additionally, extreme stress and binge drinking are also common causes of low blood sugar for people without diabetes.
However, it’s pretty rare because as soon as BG’s drop, the body’s natural counterregulatory system kicks in, raising blood sugar back to normal levels. It stops the production of insulin and activates its stress system.
I’ve never experienced hypoglycemia , even though I am very active and eat a rather low carb diet.
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Listen To Your Doctor
If you follow a meal plan or take medications that increase insulin to manage low blood sugar, its important to stick to the plan your doctor prescribed to help prevent drops in your blood sugar level.
Not eating the right foods or taking the right medications at the correct times can cause your blood sugar to drop. Check in often with your doctor so they can adjust your treatment plan if and when necessary.
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.
- Use a continuous glucose monitor or flash monitor to see how your blood sugar levels are changing. Ask your diabetes care team about getting a monitor if you do not already have one.
- 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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Your Hypoglycemia Action Plan
If you experience symptoms of hypoglycemia, its important to take action. Start with these steps:
Test your blood sugar. If you recognize any of these symptoms and believe your blood sugar may be too low, the first step you should take is to test your blood sugar with your glucose meter, Tan says. Anything less than 70 milligrams per deciliter is considered low blood sugar, according to the National Library of Medicine . However, target levels are often individualized, so talk with your healthcare provider about your optimal numbers, Tan adds.
Eat or drink fast-acting carbs. If you have low blood sugar, you need to take action right away. Your best bet is to consume about 15 grams of carbohydrates, the NLM says. Some options include:
- ½ cup or 4 ounces of orange juice
- ½ cup or 4 ounces of regular soda
- 1 tablespoon of sugar dissolved in water
- 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup
- 5 or 6 hard candies, jelly beans, or gumdrops
- 1 tablespoon of cake frosting
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- ½ cup of applesauce
You can also take three to four glucose tablets or a tube of glucose gel. Everyone who takes medications for diabetes should always have glucose tablets with them, Galindo urges.
Wait, then retest. The next step is to wait 15 minutes, then test your blood sugar again. If blood sugar has reached 100 mg/dl or greater, youre fine. If not
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What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
- Difficulty speaking
- Muscle weakness
If you are experiencing an extremely low blood sugar, which is anything less than 40 mg/dL, that is not responding to fast-acting glucose or glucagon, and you have taken fast-acting insulin within the previous 2 hours, call 911 and seek immediate emergency medical attention.
This condition can be life-threatening if not treated.
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First Check Your Ketones
If you live with insulin-dependent diabetes, high blood sugars can put you at risk of developing ketones. Blood sugar levels over 250 mg/dL with too little insulin can quickly turn into diabetic ketoacidosis if it continues to rise.
Test your urine for ketones, and contact your doctor or visit an urgent care facility if you measure with moderate to large ketones.
When large ketones are present, correcting a high blood sugar with insulin via pump or injection wont be effective. Instead, youll likely need intravenous fluids for a few hours to restabilize.
If you only have moderate ketones or less, you may be able to correct with insulin at home but youll likely need a larger dose than normal. Contact your healthcare team if you test positive for ketones and are unsure of how to safely manage the situation.
You can learn more in our guide: What Levels of Blood Sugar are Dangerous
Blood Sugar Levels After Eating
Blood sugar level simply means the concentration of a simple sugar in certain amount of blood. In the United States, it is measured in mg/dl or milligrams per deciliter. Glucose concentration in the body fluctuates the whole day. Actually, there can be significant variations from minute to minute. Blood sugar levels after eating normally skyrocket and exercising will normally drop the levels. Doctors are interested in fasting glucose, glucose levels after eating, which is at times tested.
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What Else Can I Do To Help Manage My Blood Sugar Levels
- Keep track of your blood sugar levels to see what makes them go up or down.
- Eat at regular times, and dont skip meals.
- Choose foods lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
- Track your food, drink, and physical activity.
- Drink water instead of juice or soda.
- Limit alcoholic drinks.
- For a sweet treat, choose fruit.
- Control your food portions .
What Is Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar is a level of sugar, or glucose, in the blood that is lower than normal. According to the American Diabetes Association, the cut-off value for Level 1 hypoglycemia, or moderately low blood sugar, is 70 mg/dl. However, you may not be regularly measuring your blood sugar if you have not been diagnosed with diabetes. Instead, you might suspect that you have hypoglycemia because of its symptoms. The fatigue, fuzzy thinking, and need to sit down are the result of your body being deprived of its main fuel source: glucose.
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Complications From Spells Of Hypoglycemia
Mildly low blood sugar levels are somewhat common for people with diabetes. However, severely low blood sugar levels can be life threatening. They may lead to seizures and nervous system damage if left untreated long enough. Immediate treatment is critical.
Its important to recognize your symptoms and treat them quickly. For people at risk for low blood sugar, having a glucagon kit a medication that raises blood sugar levels is important. Talk with your doctor for more information.
You may also want to talk with friends, family members, exercise partners, and co-workers about how to care for you if your blood sugar drops too low.
Its important for them to recognize low blood sugar symptoms and to know how to use the glucagon kit, as well as understand the importance of calling 911 if you lose consciousness.
Wearing a medical identification bracelet is a good idea. It can help emergency responders care for you properly if you need urgent medical attention.
Treat low blood sugar as soon as possible. Avoid driving if you are experiencing low blood sugar, as it can increase your risk for having an accident.
There are several ways you can prevent low blood sugar. Well look at each of these prevention methods in more detail below.
The Danger Of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can become a lot more dangerous more quickly. Hypoglycemia, if left untreated, can quickly result in diabetic coma and death.
Low blood sugars will not lead to permanent complications in most cases but cause frequent, short-term complications in the form of being physically unable to function when experiencing a low. They require fast-acting glucose as treatment.
Symptoms of low blood sugar can hit different people at different times, and some people may not feel their low blood sugars at all , which can be very dangerous.
Continuous glucose monitoring systems and diabetes alert dogs can help people detect their lows earlier, before they become extremely dangerous.
Hypo unawareness occurs in about 40% of people with type 1 diabetes, and less frequently in people with type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, one study showed that the average person with type 1 diabetes experiences two episodes of low blood sugar per week!
Low blood sugars can happen for many reasons, all of which result from too much insulin in the bloodstream and not enough glucose for the body to function properly.
Reasons can be anything from taking too much insulin for food, to accidentally over-bolusing with an insulin pump, to not finishing a meal, to drinking alcohol in excess, or even after physical exertion and exercise while not reducing basal insulin settings appropriately.
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