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.
Count Your Carbs For Real
If you are taking insulin, you already know you should be doing this on a regular basis. Since I am so picky and stick to the same foods, I really dont count carbs at all. I already know what works for me. But when it comes to new foods, I use the WAG strategy , which I admit is not exactly the best approach.
Make sure to count your carbs, know your carb-to-insulin ratio, time your dose correctly and keep your fingers crossed. Pumps have calculators built in to help make this easier for you and if you are on shots, you should check out the InPen, which has been a lifesaver for me in regards to getting my doses right and keeping my blood sugars in range.
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.
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Causes Of Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose is common for people with type 1 diabetes and can occur in people with type 2 diabetes taking insulin or certain medications. The average person with type 1 diabetes may experience up to two episodes of mild low blood glucose each week, and thats only counting episodes with symptoms. If you add in lows without symptoms and the ones that happen overnight, the number would likely be higher.
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.
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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
What Can Cause Low Blood Sugar Levels
Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely are:
- skipping meals and snacks
- not eating enough food during a meal or snack
- exercising longer or harder than usual without eating some extra food
- getting too much insulin
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
Also, some things may increase how quickly insulin gets absorbed into the bloodstream and can make hypoglycemia more likely. These include:
- taking a hot shower or bath right after having an insulin injection increases blood flow through the blood vessels in the skin, which can make the insulin be absorbed more quickly than usual
- injecting the shot into a muscle instead of the fatty layer under the skin
- injecting the insulin into a part of the body used a lot in a particular sport .
All of these situations increase the chances that a person may get hypoglycemia.
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What Causes Low Blood Glucose In People With Diabetes
Low blood glucose levels can be a side effect of insulin or some other medicines that help your pancreas release insulin into your blood. Taking these can lower your blood glucose level.
Two types of diabetes pills can cause low blood glucose
- sulfonylureas, usually taken once or twice per day, which increase insulin over several hours
- meglitinides, taken before meals to promote a short-term increase in insulin
The following may also lower your blood glucose level
Best Foods For Low Blood Sugar
For patients with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is a part of daily life.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can occur for many people with diabetes who are on certain medications, including insulin and sulfonylureas. It can occur for a variety of reasons including skipping a meal, exercising strenuously, taking too much insulin or consuming alcohol, especially on an empty stomach.
Low blood sugar can be as minor as a slight inconvenience or as serious as a life-threatening emergency. Thats why it is important to boost blood sugar before it becomes problematic.
Angela Norton, a diabetes educator at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, has diabetes herself, so she knows firsthand the tips and tricks of keeping blood sugar on track. Although blood glucose is considered normal if above 70 mg/dL, Norton says patients with diabetes should not wait until they reach below that threshold to take action.
Treat when you feel the symptoms, even if your blood sugar is not below 70, because as long as it is less than 100, it may be dropping fast, she says.
When it comes to treatment, Norton shares these five foods to help boost low blood sugar.
1. CandyWhen hypoglycemia occurs, patients should follow the 15-15 rule. Consume 15 grams of carbohydrates to raise blood glucose and check your levels again after 15 minutes. When the numbers return to normal, eat a snack to stay on track.
Gummy candies contain carbohydrates, which have a large impact on blood sugar levels.
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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 .
What Causes Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia is usually a result of diabetes treatment, often because there is too much insulin in the body.
Here are some reasons why hypoglycemia might occur:
Too much insulin administered for your bodys needs at the time.
Sulfonylureas stimulate insulin release from the pancreas, even if your glucose levels are in range this can lead to low blood sugar.
Too high levels of diabetes medications. If you are taking glucose-lowering drugs in combination with sulfonylureas or insulin, these medications can lower your blood sugar and increase your risk for hypoglycemia.
Not enough food, particularly carbohydrates.
Too much exercise at one time, particularly mild to moderate aerobic exercise. This is because exercise can increase your sensitivity to insulin, which allows your muscle cells to take up glucose from your bloodstream.
Illness, particularly if associated with vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
Other medical conditions, including some liver and kidney illnesses, eating disorders, and certain hormone deficiencies.
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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.
How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy
Follow these steps:
They may need to go to hospital if they’re being sick , or their blood sugar level drops again.
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to lose consciousness.
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What Causes Hypoglycemia In A Child
Hypoglycemia can be a condition by itself. Or it can be a complication of diabetes or other disorder. Its most often a problem in someone with diabetes. It occurs when theres too much insulin. This is also called an insulin reaction.
Causes in children with diabetes may include:
Too much insulin or oral diabetes medicine
The wrong kind of insulin
Incorrect blood-glucose readings
Tingling feelings around the mouth
Nightmares and confusion on awakening
The symptoms of hypoglycemia can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Low Blood Sugar Levels In Diabetes
People with diabetes can have low blood sugar levels because of the medicines they have to take to manage their diabetes. They may need a hormone called or diabetes pills to help their bodies use the sugar in their blood.
These medicines help take the sugar out of the blood and get it into the body’s cells, which makes the blood sugar level go down. But sometimes it’s a tricky balancing act and blood sugar levels can get too low.
People with diabetes need to keep their blood sugars from getting too highor too low. Keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range means balancing when and what they eat, and when they exercise with when they take medicines.
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Treating Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Drowsy
Follow these steps:
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to lose consciousness.
A Low Blood Sugar Level Without Diabetes
A low blood sugar level is uncommon in people who do not have diabetes.
Possible causes include:
- a gastric bypass
- other medical conditions, such as problems with your hormone levels, pancreas, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands or heart
- some medicines, including quinine
See a GP if you think you keep getting symptoms of a low blood sugar level. 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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Eating Habits To Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes Say Dietitians Eat This Not That
As I mentioned above, foods that help stabilize blood sugar levels at night and make the best bedtime snacks for diabetes are:
I asked some of my favorite diabetes colleagues what their diabetes bedtime snack recommendations are and this is what they had to say
Bedtime snacks can be helpful in lowering morning blood sugar for some people, recommends fellow dietitian and diabetes expert Rahf Al Bouchi, RDN, LD! I recommend experimenting with protein and complex carbohydrates for a bedtime snack and monitor your blood sugar to see how your body responds. Examples include whole grain crackers and cheese or Greek yogurt and nuts.
And, Casey Seiden, MS, RD, CDCES offers some more ideas, Everyones blood sugars respond differently to bedtime, but ideally you should aim for a combination of complex carbohydrates and protein or healthy fats to keep glucose stable overnight. Try snacks like rice cake with mashed avocado on top, Greek yogurt with blackberries, energy bites with oats and nut butter, or cocoa chia pudding.
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Limit Alcohol At Night
Alcohol consumption can also increase the risk for nighttime hypoglycemia, so avoid regular consumption of alcohol. On special occasions, drink only in moderation no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men and don’t wait to indulge with a before-bed nightcap. If you do have a drink in the evening, enjoying it with food can minimize the chance of low blood sugar while you sleep.
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How Diet Affects Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is a condition that can be avoided by eating a balanced diet and consuming regular meals and snacks.
When a person with chronic hypoglycemia eats regularly and focuses on foods that lower blood sugar instantly, the frequency of low blood glucose levels will likely decrease.
This will improve their quality of life and reduce the risks of hypoglycemia.
Its also important to consider how exercise can affect blood sugar levels and plan meals and snacks accordingly.
Exercise can lower blood sugar. Therefore, if youre prone to hypoglycemia, its even more important to consume a fiber-rich carbohydrate, preferably with some protein as well, before and after being active to avoid low blood sugar.
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
- 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
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Are There Any Newer Technologies To Prevent Hypoglycemia
We are lucky that in this day and age, we can predict hypoglycemia and prevent it through technology like continuous glucose monitors, explains Dr. Shah. Additionally, he notes that there are newer insulins available to help decrease episodes of hypoglycemia.
One of our roles as your doctor is to educate every patient about the self-management of diabetes and to create a personalized care plan, explains Dr. Shah. By self-managing your condition you will really feel empowered enough to take control of your health.
I’m A Doctor And Here’s How To Tell If You Have A Bad Heart Including Measuring Your Sodium And Blood Sugar Levels
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, but there’s many ways you can prevent and avoid it. Lifestyle choices play a major role in heart disease and by eliminating bad habits, the risk is greatly reduced. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Ninety percent of the nearly 18 million heart disease cases worldwide could be prevented by people adopting a healthier diet, doing regular exercise, and not smoking.”
Dr. Sanjeev Aggarwal, a cardiovascular surgeon and Medical Advisor at Hello Heart tells us, “Performing regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco use and making heart-healthy food decisions are simple lifestyle choices that can dramatically lower the risk of heart disease. Home self-measurement of blood pressure is an important tool in diagnosing and controlling high blood pressure. Several clinical studies have demonstrated improved diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure with self-measured blood pressure at home, an important step to avoiding heart disease.”
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