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 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.
Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
How you react to low blood sugar may not be the same as how someone else with low blood sugar reacts. Its important to know your signs. Common symptoms may include:
- Fast heartbeat
If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.
You may not have any symptoms when your blood sugar is low . If you dont have symptoms, it will be harder to treat your low blood sugar early. This increases your risk of having severe lows and can be dangerous. This is more likely to happen if you:
- Have had diabetes for more than 5-10 years.
- Frequently have low blood sugar.
- Take certain medicines, such as beta blockers for high blood pressure.
If you meet one or more of the above and you have hypoglycemia unawareness, you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low. This is very important to do before driving or being physically active.
You May Like: How Can I Find Out If I Am Diabetic
What Causes Low Blood Glucose
- Symptoms occur when blood glucose levels fall below 70 mg/dl a condition known as hypoglycemia.
- In most cases, low blood glucose results from overtreatment: Either taking too much diabetes medication or not eating enough food. Higher doses of medicine than the person actually requires can also lead to hypoglycemia.
- People who aim for too-low values on their A1C test tend to experience more frequent drops in blood glucose.
- Vigorous exercise doesn’t just burn calories, it also burns blood glucose! Hypoglycemia can occur unless blood glucose levels are carefully monitored during and after exercise.
- Not eating on a regular basis can deprive the body of glucose and make it difficult to prevent hypoglycemia. Eat balanced meals throughout the day and always keep a snack on hand.
How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed
The only way to know if you have hypoglycemia is to check your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter. Its a small machine that measures blood sugar. Most of these devices use a tiny prick of the finger to take a small amount of blood.
People with hypoglycemia unawareness may need a continuous glucose monitor. These wearable devices measure glucose every few minutes, day and night. An alarm sounds if blood sugar drops too low.
Read Also: Once Weekly Shot For Type 2 Diabetes
Cause Of Low Blood Sugar
Some common causes of low blood sugar levels include:
- When some people, even those who are not diabetic, eat very high carbohydrate, low-protein, low-fat meals or snacks , the high-carbohydrate foods enter the bloodstream very quickly and stimulate the pancreas to make a lot of insulin. All that insulin causes the blood sugar level to fall quickly and it can actually fall below the normal range and cause symptoms. This is called postprandial hypoglycemia.
- When diabetics take insulin, they can take more insulin than is needed, and this will cause a low blood sugar level.
- Rarely, nondiabetics can have an insulin-producing tumor in their pancreas that causes frequent low blood sugar levels.
- Other causes of hypoglycemia include: starving the body for prolonged periods by skipping or delaying meals, sudden and dramatic increase in physical activity , or excessive alcohol intake on an empty stomach.
What Are Clinical Trials For Low Blood Glucose
Clinical trialsand other types of clinical studiesare part of medical research and involve people like you. When you volunteer to take part in a clinical study, you help doctors and researchers learn more about disease and improve health care for people in the future.
Researchers are studying many aspects of low blood glucose levels in diabetes, such as
- how to diagnose and treat low blood glucose among people with diabetes
- medicines that can treat symptoms of low blood glucose in people with hypoglycemia unawareness
- educational approaches to reduce fear of low blood glucose, which can make it harder for you to control your diabetes
Don’t Miss: What Are The Signs Of Diabetic Kidney Disease
Examples Of Appropriate Snacks May Be:
- 6 saltine crackers
- 1 slice toast and 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup milk
The food eaten for a reaction need not be subtracted from a meal plan.
Obtain a blood sugar when symptoms occur if you are able. If symptoms are severe, treat the reaction first and then obtain a blood sugar. Do not drive nor operate equipment if you feel your blood sugar is low.
If your blood sugar drops low enough for you to become unconscious, you must be taken to the hospital and/or treated with glucagon.
Glucagon is a hormone that causes the blood sugar to rise. It can only be given by injection. It is used to treat a low blood sugar if a person becomes semi-conscious or unconscious due to a severe low blood sugar. Please ask your nurse for instruction on glucagon. Your doctor will need to write a prescription for glucagon so you can have it available at home.
What Is The Outlook For People With Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia can be managed when you and your healthcare provider understand what causes your blood sugar to go down. Give your healthcare provider as much information as possible about any hypoglycemic episodes. Fixing the problem may be as simple as changing the times you take medication, eat and exercise. Minor changes to the types of food you eat may also help.
Recommended Reading: Stop Type 2 Diabetes Naturally
The Dangers Of Low Blood Glucose
At some time, most people with diabetes experience the sweating and shakiness that occurs when blood glucose levels fall below 70 mg/dl a condition known as hypoglycemia. The average person with type 1 diabetes may experience symptoms of low blood glucose up to two times a week. However, not all are aware that these symptoms can rapidly progress to seizures, coma and even death if hypoglycemia is severe. Though hypoglycemia can be common and occur repeatedly in some people with diabetes, symptoms of low blood glucose should always be taken seriously. People with diabetes and their families, friends or coworkers should be prepared to act quickly and responsibly at the earliest signs of low blood glucose.
Hypoglycemia In Children: Pediatric Ketotic Hypoglycemia
Some children experience pediatric ketotic hypoglycemia, a condition involving low blood sugar levels and high levels of ketones. If people do not have enough glucose to use as energy, the body begins to break down fat in the body instead. The body produces chemicals called ketones as a by-product of breaking down fat.
According to a 2019 study , pediatric ketotic hypoglycemia usually occurs due to poor intake of food, a gastrointestinal illness and vomiting, or a period of prolonged fasting. Severe metabolic and hormonal conditions may also cause pediatric ketotic hypoglycemia.
Pediatric ketotic hypoglycemia may affect children from 6 months old and often resolves after the age of 6 years.
Recommended Reading: Ashwagandha And Type 1 Diabetes
When You Have Low Blood Sugar
First, eat or drink 15 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate, such as:
- Three to four glucose tablets
- One tube of glucose gel
- Four to six pieces of hard candy
- 1/2 cup fruit juice
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup soft drink
- 1 tablespoon honey
Fifteen minutes after you’ve eaten a food with sugar in it, check your blood sugar again. If your blood sugar is still less than 70 mg/dL, eat another serving of one of the foods listed above. Repeat these steps until your sugar becomes normal.
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.
Read Also: Does Viagra Work For Diabetics
Check Your Blood Sugar Often
Talk with your provider about when you should check your blood sugar every day. People who have low blood sugar need to check their blood sugar more often.
The most common causes of low blood sugar are:
- Taking your insulin or diabetes medicine at the wrong time
- Taking too much insulin or diabetes medicine
- Taking insulin to correct high blood sugar without eating any food
- Not eating enough during meals or snacks after you have taken insulin or diabetes medicine
- Skipping meals
- Waiting too long after taking your medicine to eat your meals
- Exercising a lot or at a time that is unusual for you
- Not checking your blood sugar or not adjusting your insulin dose before exercising
- Drinking alcohol
Hypoglycemia Tests And Diagnosis
To diagnose nondiabetic hypoglycemia, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about any medicines you take. Theyâll want to know all about your health and any history of diseases or stomach surgery.
Theyâll check your blood glucose level, especially when you are having symptoms. Theyâll also check to see if you feel better when your sugar goes back to a normal level.
If your doctor suspects hypoglycemia, you may have to fast until you start to have symptoms. Theyâll test your blood glucose level at different times throughout the fast.
To check for reactive hypoglycemia, you may have to take a test called a mixed-meal tolerance test . For this, you take a special drink that raises your blood glucose. The doctor will check your blood glucose levels over the next few hours.
Also Check: Does Diabetes 2 Go Away
No Symptoms Be Alarmed
Surprisingly, the most dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia occur with little or no warning. When low blood glucose occurs on a regular basis, the body can become used to the warning signs and the person may stop noticing symptoms. This is a particularly dangerous condition known as hypoglycemic unawareness. People with this condition might not realize they have low blood glucose until it’s dangerously low seizures and coma are sometimes the first indication of a problem. The good news is that this condition can often be reversed allowing people to once again notice the signs of low blood glucose if hypoglycemia is avoided for a few weeks through careful monitoring of blood glucose.
Who Is At Risk Of Hypoglycaemia
People with diabetes who inject insulin or who take certain diabetes tablets are at risk of low blood glucose.
There are other medical conditions that may cause a person to produce too much insulin and people can experience symptoms of low blood glucose levels even when they do not take insulin or certain diabetes medications. If so it is important to have this investigated by your doctor.
Also Check: Purpose Of Insulin In The Body
Treating Low Blood Sugar
You are at risk of having a low blood sugar reaction if you:
- Skip or delay a meal or snack
- Take too much insulin or eat too few carbohydrates
- Drink alcohol, especially without eating carbohydrates
Check your blood sugar if you have any of these symptoms:
- Weakness and/or fatigue
If your blood sugar is less than 70 milligrams per deciliter :
- Eat 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate
- Wait 15 minutes and then recheck your blood sugar
- If your blood sugar is still less than 100 mg/dl, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate and retest your blood sugar in another 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
Important: If you have frequent low blood sugars speak to your doctor. You may need changes in your medication and/or meal plan.
Is The Low Predictable Or Unpredictable
Generally, a low blood sugar is predictable if there is a reasonable explanation for it . Unpredictable lows are when no obvious reason can be found. In this case, the unpredictable low could be a one off that occasionally happens and is more common with cloudy or N insulin. If it happens more than once, it could be a sign that you need to change your insulin routine either the dose or type. For example, it could be a change in your weight or that the liver is not making as much sugar overnight , or just being on the wrong type of insulin that is peaking in the night.
You May Like: Diabetic Night Sweats High Blood Sugar
Treating Low Blood Sugars Quickly And Accurately
Its easy to panic when having a low glucose. Your heart is racing, your body is pumping out adrenaline, and your stomach says Feed me! FEED ME!!! Your brain isnt working logically, and if you live alone you may be afraid if you dont eat that chocolate cake, you might pass out and not wake up.
But binging to correct lows only causes rebound highs. Your body will also be raising your blood glucose by releasing stored glucose from the liver. Dual responses from you and your liver keep the roller coaster going. So eat quickly, but restrain yourself from piling on more carbs in a binge til you stop shaking routine. If you are on an AID, remember that your basal delivery has been reduced for some time beforehand, reducing the number of carbs that you need for treatment.
How To Treat Hypoglycemia
What is hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is the state of low blood sugar and is caused by too much insulin or too little sugar in the body. It is defined as blood sugar below 70 milligrams per deciliter , or 3.9 millimoles per liter . Untreated, hypoglycemia may result in seizures, unconsciousness and in extreme cases, sometimes even death.
What are some symptoms of hypoglycemia?
When your blood sugar levels are too low, you may experience the following symptoms: feeling anxious, a change in behavior similar to being intoxicated, blurred vision, cold sweats, feeling confused, cool/pale skin, difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, excessive hunger, fast heartbeat, headache, nausea, nervousness, nightmares, restless sleep, shakiness, slurred speech, and unusual tiredness or weakness.
What causes hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia can be caused by a variety of factors, such as missing a meal, not consuming enough food in comparison to the amount of insulin youve taken, or excessively exercising. Its imperative to monitor and treat low blood sugars immediately in order to prevent a worsening of symptoms, like severe hypoglycemia and unconsciousness.
How do you treat it?
Its important to know that the treatment of hypoglycemia depends on the severity of the low blood sugar reading, and whether or not the person having a hypo is alert or not.
Also Check: Do Type 2 Diabetics Have To Take Insulin
How To Deal With Low Blood Sugar
In this article:
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, happens when the glucose level in the blood falls below the normal range.
Given that glucose is your bodys primary source of energy, this condition can make you run out of steam and can give rise to a range of discomforting symptoms. Thus, you have to take measures to pump up your dwindling blood sugar back within the normal range in order to feel normal again.
If left untreated, your blood sugar level can fall further, which could induce serious complications such as loss of consciousness and seizures. Plus, a severely low blood sugar level poses a risk to your life if not treated immediately.
For those taking insulin, a low blood sugar level is considered to be less than 70 mg/dL. For those who are not diabetic and/or dont take insulin, blood sugar levels typically need to fall below 60 mg/dL before they would experience symptoms.