How To Prevent Low Blood Sugar
Small changes to your diet and physical activity habits can help prevent blood sugar spikes and decreases.
- Take smaller portions of high-carb foods, such as bread, pasta, potatoes, desserts, soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages, and rice.
- Include a source of protein, fat, and/or dietary fiber when you eat carbohydrates.
- Choose less-processed versions of foods, such as whole fruit instead of juice, whole grains instead of refined, and pasta al dente instead of very well-cooked pasta.
- Instead of exercising on an empty stomach, have a small snack an hour or two before you start, or a larger snack or small meal three hours before.
- Have a snack or your next scheduled meal as soon as possible after exercising.
These changes can help prevent blood sugar swings.
Symptoms Of Nocturnal Hypoglycemia
It is important for both you and your sleeping partner to know the warning signs. Sleeping through the warning signs is especially dangerous because your blood sugar may go lower before you can correct it. If you sleep alone, you may be at higher risk.
Warning signs occur when your blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dl. When this happens, your body releases hormones like glucagon and epinephrine to increase your blood sugar. This causes warning signs like a racing heart, sweats, and tremors. These warnings are your bodys way of telling you to get more sugar into your system quickly. Hopefully they will wake you from sleep, but some people sleep through.
If hypoglycemia wakes you up, these are the symptoms:
- Being cold and clammy or hot and sweaty
- Feeling shaky and trembling
- A pounding or racing heart
- Waking up with a headache
Your sleeping partner should wake you if he or she notices any of the warning signs or if you are more restless, noisy, or breathing irregularly in your sleep.
What Is Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when the sugar levels in your blood are too low. Many people think of hypoglycemia as something that occurs only in people with diabetes. However, it can also occur in people who dont have diabetes.
Hypoglycemia is different from hyperglycemia, which occurs when you have too much sugar in your bloodstream.
Hypoglycemia can happen in people with diabetes if the body produces too much insulin, which is a hormone that breaks down sugar so that you can use it for energy. You can also get hypoglycemia if you have diabetes and you take too much insulin.
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When To Call 911
Your friend, relative, or coworker should call 911 for help if:
- You pass out and no glucagon is available
- You need a second dose of glucagon
- You had glucagon, but are still confused
- Your blood sugar stays too low 20 minutes after treatment or doesnt respond to your usual treatments
The emergency medical technicians can give you IV sugar . This raises your blood sugar level right away. You might need to stay in the hospital for a few hours.
NEVER be afraid to call 911 or ask someone to call 911 for you if you are concerned .
Other things to know about hypoglycemia:
It takes time for blood sugar to rise after eating, and its important to give your first treatment time to work. Use the table above to guide your treatment and timing instead of eating until you feel better, which will almost always lead to eating too much.
Hypoglycemia can be common with certain types of exercise. Managing blood sugar during and after physical activity is important and is something that a lot of people with T1D have questions about. JDRF has a number of resources available for people with T1D and their families, many of which can be found here.
When It’s Time To Call A Doctor
If any of the symptoms mentioned have begun to impact your life, such as fatigue so severe you can’t stay awake through the day, it’s a good idea to consult your physician. Dr. Fruge warns that “unstable blood sugar levels could put you at higher risk of heart disease and stroke and it is a red flag for serious health issues” — so blood sugar issues should be taken seriously.
You should also see a doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of hypoglycemia and haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes or any other underlying condition.
If you do have diabetes and your hypoglycemia isn’t responding to the treatments described above, that’s another good cue to call your health care provider.
If testing reveals you have Type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to continue to test your blood sugar levels as often as instructed by your physician, take insulin regularly and participate in regular exercise. This may mean you will need a new glucose monitoring system, so ask your doctor what they recommend. If you’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you’ll most likely need to do the same as for Type 1, as well as working with health care professionals to make lifestyle changes such as improving nutrition and planning workouts. Medication may be necessary as well.
Healthy eating, regular exercise and other lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms and possibly even reverse prediabetes.
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How Long Will The Effects Last
The effects of low blood sugar will continue and may even get worse until treatment brings your blood sugar level back to normal. It may take several minutes for the symptoms to go away after you start treatment. This may be a temporary problem while you and your healthcare provider are adjusting your medicine. If you are always prone to having low blood sugar, you may need to take special care for the rest of your life to keep your blood sugar at the proper level.
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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Low Blood Glucose During Sleep
Your blood glucose level can drop while you sleep and stay low for several hours, causing serious problems.7 Symptoms of low blood glucose while you sleep can include
- crying out or having nightmares
- sweating enough to make your pajamas or sheets damp
- feeling tired, irritable, or confused after waking up
Although you may not wake up or notice any symptoms, low blood glucose can interfere with your sleep, which may affect your quality of life, mood, and ability to work. Having low blood glucose during sleep can also make you less likely to notice and respond to symptoms of low blood glucose during the day.
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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If A Person Is Unconscious
If a person loses consciousness because of severe hypoglycaemia, they need to be put into the recovery position and given an injection of the hormone glucagon . The injection will raise their blood glucose level.
The injection should be carried out by a friend or family member who knows what they’re doing, or by a trained healthcare professional.
You should dial 999 to request an ambulance if:
- a glucagon injection kit isn’t available
- there’s nobody available who’s trained to give the injection
- the injection is ineffective after 10 minutes
Never try to put food or drink into the mouth of someone who’s unconscious as they could choke.
If you’re able to give a glucagon injection and the person regains consciousness, they should eat some longer-acting carbohydrate food, such as a few biscuits, a cereal bar or a sandwich.
You should continue to monitor the person for signs of recurring symptoms in case they need to be treated again.
Low Blood Sugar At Night Is A Common Danger For People With Diabetes It Is Important For Both You And Your Sleep Partner To Know The Warning Signs And Have A Plan For Treatment
Untreated hypoglycemia can lead to a seizure and be life-threatening.
You know it is important to have tight control of you blood sugar with diabetes. Tight control is how you prevent diabetes complications. One of the dangers of tight control is letting your blood sugar get too low, called hypoglycemia.
The most dangerous time for hypoglycemia is when you are sleeping, a condition called nocturnal hypoglycemia. Up to 50 percent of diabetics may have episodes of nocturnal hypoglycemia. In fact, almost 50 percent of hypoglycemic episodes occur at night and more than half of dangerous episodes occur at night.
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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.
Being Extra Thirsty And Having To Urinate More Than Usual
This is a common but not-so-obvious sign of blood sugar that is too high: feeling really thirsty and needing to drink more than usual. Excessive urination, known as polyuria, occurs when glucose builds up in your blood, and your kidneys begin working harder to get rid of the extra glucose, says Zanini. If your kidneys cant keep up and adjust blood sugar so that it returns to a normal level, the excess sugar is flushed out of your body through urine, she adds. You may become dehydrated and get dizzy.
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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.
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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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.
Checking For Low Blood Sugar Levels
The warning signs of hypoglycemia are the body’s natural response to low blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels fall too low, the body releases the hormone adrenaline, which helps get stored glucose into the bloodstream quickly. This can make someone:
- start shaking
- have an increased heart rate
If the hypoglycemia isn’t treated, more serious symptoms may happen, such as drowsiness, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
The only way to know for sure if you’re having a low blood sugar level is to test. Blood sugar levels can be tested with a . This computerized device measures and displays the amount of glucose in a blood sample. But if you can’t quickly check your blood sugar level, it’s important to treat yourself for hypoglycemia immediately to prevent symptoms from getting worse.
Sometimes a person with diabetes may have symptoms of low blood sugar levels, but blood sugar levels are not actually low. This is a called a false reaction. The hormone adrenaline is not just released when blood sugar drops too low it’s also released when blood sugar levels fall quickly when they’re too high. If you’re having a false reaction, you might actually have blood sugar levels in a healthy range but feel as if you have low blood sugar. Testing blood sugar levels before treating yourself for hypoglycemia can help you figure out if you’re having a false reaction.
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What Is A Continuous Glucose Monitor
Besides a glucometer, you can also monitor your blood sugar with a continuous glucose monitor. These monitors are devices connected to the body all day, allowing quick access to information anytime you need it. These monitors help prevent surprise highs or lows in blood sugar and address them quickly.
There are other things you can do to avoid blood sugar crash if you have diabetes, including:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Avoiding sugary foods and drinks outside of mealtimes
- Eating small portions
- Avoiding restricting or cutting out full food groups
- Planning ahead
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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