What Are Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose level, is the level of sugar/glucose present in the blood. Glucose is a simple version of sugar which comes from the food we eat. Therefore, the more food you consume with high sugar levels over a period of time, will typically increase your blood sugar level.
Glucose comes from the foods we eat and its sugar content. When a person consumes a food with high sugar content, that is turned into glucose. The glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream with the support of insulin. This is then distributed between the bodys cells and used as energy.
Foods high in glucose include most carbohydrates and a handful of proteins and fats. Most foods contain glucose as it is simply a natural sugar that occurs in most dietary forms. However, it is carbohydrates that contain the most sugar and 100% of it turns into glucose, through the process mentioned above, once consumed. The concentration of glucose present in the blood will determine your blood sugar level.
Here is a quick video explaining Blood sugar levels chart :
Your blood sugar level can either be low, normal or high. Depending on what you eat and health conditions, it will vary from person to person. Here is a breakdown of how your blood sugar works and how low or high blood sugar levels happens:
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A Low Blood Sugar Level And Driving
You may still be allowed to drive if you have diabetes or you’re at risk of a low blood sugar level for another reason, but you’ll need to do things to reduce the chance of this happening while you’re driving.
You also need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and your car insurance company about your condition.
For more information, see:
Why Do These Symptoms Matter For Diabetics
These symptoms are essential for diabetics to understand, because they may encounter high or low blood sugar levels from time to time.
A cold or virus can cause sudden high blood sugar levels, and understand the symptoms means knowing how to deal with hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
People with diabetes who can recognise the symptoms can avoid levels that lead to medical emergencies such as diabetic ketoacidosis
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How Do I Check My Blood Sugar
Checking your blood sugar is simple and can be done at home with the right equipment. The most traditional and effective way of doing so is with a glucose meter. You wash your hands to wash away germs, prick your finger with a needle, apply the blood from the pricked finger to a test strip and insert it into the machine. Your blood sugar level will appear on the meters display. Alternatively, there are a few modern methods that have been developed. They show results but are considered not to be as accurate as glucose meters.
Pounding Heart Or Palpitations
Heart palpitations are sensations in which the heart is fluttering, pounding, beating too hard, and fast. Palpitations are triggered by too much stress and anxiety, extraneous exercise, excitement and anticipation, and medication. In most cases, palpitations are harmless and common. However, heart palpitations can be a warning sign of more serious medical conditions like hypoglycemia.
People who have hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels can experience heart palpitations when they eat too much food high in carbohydrates, sodium, and processed sugar. For example, eating too many candies, cookies, dairy desserts, white bread, pasta, and cereals can spike glucose levels. A sudden increase in blood sugar levels can trigger the body to produce a hormone called epinephrine or adrenaline. Adrenaline can make the heart and lungs work double time. A sudden surge in adrenaline can cause palpitations, make the brain more alert, and raise a persons blood pressure and blood sugar levels. However, the frequent adrenaline rush can harm the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart problems.
Hypoglycemic people should be mindful of their sodium, carb, and sugar consumption. In addition, people experiencing frequent palpitations after heavy meals should consult their doctors and have their blood tested to prevent further complications.
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How To Recognize Hypoglycemia
The first signs of hypoglycemia include feeling sweaty, shaky, and hungry. However, not everyone has these symptoms or notices them in time to prevent low blood sugar from getting worse. Its also important to know that your symptoms of hypoglycemia will change the longer you have T1D.
As hypoglycemia gets worse, symptoms can include:
- Having difficulty walking or seeing clearly
- Acting strange or getting disoriented
- Having seizures
Severe hypoglycemia may make you faint or pass out. This is dangerous if you are driving, climbing stairs, or doing other activities where you need to stay aware of things around you.
Hypoglycemia can happen at night. If it does, you are likely to wake up, but its important not to rely on your body to wake you up. A continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, can alert you and those around you with an alarm to let you know if your blood sugar starts getting low while you are sleeping.
Its a good idea to check your blood sugar often when lows are likely, such as in hot weather or when you travel. Your CGM can also let you know when your blood sugar is getting lower.
Watch out for hypoglycemia unawareness.
You might not have early warning signs of low blood sugar. This is called hypoglycemia unawareness, and it raises the risk of having severe lows. It is more likely if:
- You have had diabetes longer than 5 or 10 years
- You have frequent episodes of hypoglycemia
- You take certain medicines, such as beta blockers for high blood pressure
What Are The Treatment Options For Hypoglycemia
Children with hypoglycemia have different symptoms, and these vary from one child to another. But no matter what your childs symptoms, the overriding goal is the same to bring the blood sugar back up to normal as rapidly as possible and return your child to good health.
Most often, your childs blood sugar can be brought back up to normal by eating or drinking something that has sugar in it, such as fruit juice, regular soda, table sugar, maple syrup, candy, glucose tablets, glucose gel, or cake frosting. Consider encouraging your child to:
- eat regular meals throughout the day
- eat frequent snacks
For children with diabetes, the goal is to consistently maintain a blood sugar level that is in a healthy range. This involves testing blood sugar often, learning to recognize the earliest symptoms of low blood sugar, and treating the condition quickly, based on instructions given by your child’s healthcare providers.
If your child has recurrent or severe hypoglycemia, the first thing is to determine the cause, because different causes have different treatments. While the cause is determined, some children will receive glucose intravenously in the hospital to make sure their blood-sugar level stays normal.
Some causes of hypoglycemia can be treated with changes in your childs diet or medication. For some rare cases of severe hypoglycemia that dont respond to medical treatment, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove most of the pancreas.
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S For Treating A Person With Symptoms Keeping Them From Being Able To Treat Themselves
Dont hesitate to call 911. If someone is unconscious and glucagon is not available or someone does not know how to use it, call 911 immediately.
- Provide food or fluids
Questions Caregivers Should Ask
As a family member, friend, or caregiver, you want to do your best to keep your loved one, friend, or patient safe from severe hypoglycemia. But knowing whats best can be overwhelming. Here are some questions to help you get started.
- What are my loved ones/friends/patients chances for severe hypoglycemia?
- How often should my loved one/friend/patient check their blood glucose?
- What should I do if there is no change after giving the glucagon?
- What would be the best food or drink to give my loved one/friend/patient once they wake up?
- Should I talk with a diabetes educator?
- How can I help treat their hypoglycemia?
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THESE RESOURCES WERE MADE FROM THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF LILLY DIABETES AND XERIS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.
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Low Blood Sugar An Overview
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, occurs when an individuals blood sugar levels drop below the healthy range. Every individual has different optimal blood sugar levels, varying at different times. However, for most people, low blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL.
The standard classification of low blood sugar is as follows:
How Can Someone Bring Their Blood Sugar Down
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Treating Extreme Low Blood Sugar
A blood sugar level that falls below 55 mg/dL is considered extremely low blood sugar and is an emergency. If your blood sugar goes this low, you may become unconscious or otherwise unable to act on your own. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your friends, coworkers, and family members know how to help you if it happens.
If you have extremely low blood sugar, you will be unable to eat or drink. The only way to stop falling blood sugar levels is to consume emergency glucagon through an injection or nasal spray. If you qualify for it, your healthcare provider can give you a prescription for an emergency glucagon kit to have on hand for emergencies.
If you are treated with an emergency injection of glucagon, you should return to consciousness within five to 15 minutes. When you wake up, consume a small piece of fruit, candy, or juice and recheck your blood sugar levels after 15 minutes.
Severely Low Blood Sugar
Severely low blood sugar is when your blood sugar falls below 54 mg/dL, making you faint.
There are a variety of symptoms related to a low blood sugar episode. Although these symptoms may start mildly, they tend to progress very fast
- Tingling sensations or numbness around the mouth
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When To Use Your Glucagon Emergency Kit
You need glucagon if your blood sugar level is less than 50 mg/dl and you are:
- Unable to eat or drink safely because youre confused or disoriented
- Having seizures
If possible, someone will need to check your blood sugar level to make sure its low. This is because having high blood sugar can also make you unconscious. In that case, glucagon wont help. Instead, get medical attention right away by calling 911. If you cannot find the blood glucose kit, and the person is showing the symptoms above, skip this step.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
Symptoms of hypoglycemia can start quickly, with people experiencing them in different ways. The signs of hypoglycemia are unpleasant. But they provide good warnings that you should take action before blood sugar drops more. The signs include:
- Shaking or trembling.
- Tingling or numbness in the face or mouth.
During a severe hypoglycemic event, a person may:
- Be unable to eat or drink.
- Have a seizure or convulsions .
- Lose consciousness.
- Slip into a coma or die .
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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.
- Dont 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. Dont 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 bodys 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 someones 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.
Risk Factors For Prediabetes And Diabetes
You have prediabetes if your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to trigger a diagnosis of diabetes. The risk factors for prediabetes and diabetes are the same.
Risk factors include:
Lifestyle factors. Being overweight is a major risk factor for diabetes, especially if your waist size is large. If you smoke, eat an unhealthy diet, or have an inactive lifestyle, your risk goes up.
Demographic factors. If you are over 45, your diabetes risk goes up. Your risk is also greater if you have a close family member with diabetes. Although it’s unknown exactly why, certain people â including those who are Black, Hispanic, Asian-American, or American Indian â are also at a higher risk for developing diabetes.
Related conditions. You have a greater chance of getting diabetes if you have sleep apnea, a condition in which you repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping. Women who had diabetes while pregnant are at an increased risk. So are women with a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome.
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Low Blood Sugar: Warning Signs Ways To Treat And When To Call The Doctor
Physicians explain how to tell when your blood sugar is dangerously low, and how to take action to prevent complications.
KJ Callihan is a freelance writer with a background in mental health and education. Her writing often covers product reviews and lists, animals and pet care, food and hospitality, health, wellness, and culture. When she isn’t crafting the perfect sentence, you may find her bingeing true crime documentaries, browsing mid-Michigan farmer’s markets, and tasting her son’s latest homemade cuisine
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 34 million people living in the United States had diabetes in 2018 — and amazingly, 21% of adults with diabetes did not even know they had it. The scariest part is that, if left untreated, diabetes can be deadly. In fact, it was the seventh leading cause of death in the year 2017.
And while normally associated with high blood sugar , diabetic folks can also experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, alongside its own bevy of problems — including more severe and/or long-term effects like seizures, loss of consciousness, dementia and even death. Further, according to the Mayo Clinic, hypoglycemia can also cause low blood sugar in folks without diabetes due to a variety of conditions and medications.
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 . For people looking for a deeper understanding of technology that helps people with T1D better manage their blood sugar, JDRF resources are available .
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