Why Does Blood Sugar Go Up And Down
When we eat, carbohydrates break down into sugar molecules, including glucose. Glucose fuels our bodies, but it needs to get into the cells to do it. Insulin is a hormone that unlocks the cells so glucose can get in. When insulin doesn’t work as it should, glucose will stay in the blood. This creates high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia.
Blood sugar can also go too low. This is a condition known as hypoglycemia. This usually happens when you go too long without eating. It can also happen when those with diabetes take too much medication. A few other conditions can cause hypoglycemia, but they are relatively rare. Hyperglycemia and diabetes are much greater problems than hypoglycemia.
Stick To An Eating Schedule
Dr. Kara warns against skipping meals frequently to avoid the rollercoaster of high to low blood sugar surges and dips. Spreading your meals out throughout the day, rather than eating a large breakfast or large dinner can help to regulate blood sugar. Eating regularly from morning through evening is the best strategy.
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Low Blood Sugar Level Causes
Most low blood sugar level causes are preventable and are caused due to a persons lifestyle and diet habits. Low blood sugar is common among diabetic patients who take medications to increase insulin levels.
All of the above causes are risk factors that may or may not be able to be inhibited. They are important to be aware of and act accordingly to keep yourself from getting a too high or too low blood sugar level.
If a person has medical, lifestyle or diet habits that cause irregular blood sugar levels, symptoms will begin to develop along with the drop or spike in blood sugar, and are as follows:
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The Dangers Of Low Blood Sugar And What You Can Do About It
Your blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day, going up or down depending on the food you eat, how much you exercise, the medications you take, and even your stress level.
Most of the time you probably wont notice these fluctuations because theyre within whats considered a target range. However, if your blood sugar gets too low below 70 mg/DL it can be dangerous, especially if you have diabetes.
This condition is called hypoglycemia and its especially common among patients with diabetes who take certain types of medications. A large global study found that 4 out of every 5 patients with type 1 diabetes, and nearly half of those with type 2 diabetes, reported low blood sugar at least once over a four-week period.1
As long as youre aware of the symptoms of hypoglycemia, there are plenty of things you can do to bring your blood sugar back to a healthy level. However, if left untreated, hypoglycemia can cause serious side effects and potentially land you in the hospital.
The hypoglycemia-diabetes connection
Your body converts carbohydrates in foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, and bread products into glucose, and requires insulin to transport it into cells and tissues for energy. Normally, when your blood sugar levels drop too low, your body either produces more glucose or releases extra glucose that has been stored in the liver and muscles.
Know the warning signs of hypoglycemia
Treating low blood sugar
Posted date: April 12, 2022
The Effects Of Low Blood Sugar On Your Body
Every cell in your body needs energy to function. The main source of energy might come as a surprise: Its sugar, also known as glucose. Blood sugar is essential to proper brain, heart, and digestive function. It even helps keep your skin and vision healthy.
When your blood sugar levels fall below the normal range, its called hypoglycemia. There are many identifiable symptoms of low blood sugar, but the only way to know if you have low blood sugar is by taking a blood glucose test.
Learn more about the symptoms of low blood sugar, as well as the long-term effects on the body.
most common reasons for low blood sugar are some medications used to treat diabetes, such as insulin.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesnt make enough insulin, or your body cant use it properly. Too much insulin or oral diabetic medication can lower the blood sugar level, leading to hypoglycemia.
However, contrary to popular belief, low blood sugar isnt exclusive to diabetes, though it is rare. It can also happen if your body makes more insulin than it should.
Another possible cause of low blood sugar is drinking too much alcohol, especially over long periods of time. This can interfere with the livers ability to create a buildup of glucose and then release it into your bloodstream when you need it.
Other causes include:
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Symptoms Of A Low Blood Sugar Level
A low blood sugar level can affect everyone differently. You’ll learn how it makes you feel, although your symptoms may change over time.
Early signs of a low blood sugar level include:
- a fast or pounding heartbeat
- becoming easily irritated, tearful, anxious or moody
If a low blood sugar level is not treated, you may get other symptoms, such as:
- unusual behaviour, slurred speech or clumsiness
- seizures or fits
- collapsing or passing out
A low blood sugar level, or hypo, can also happen while you’re sleeping. This may cause you to wake up during the night or cause headaches, tiredness or damp sheets in the morning.
What To Know About Diabetic Macular Edema
Fiber plays a preventative role, too. Studies have found that high-fiber diets can reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 15 to 19 percent compared to low-fiber diets, according to a March 2018 study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine.
Youll find fiber in plant foods such as raspberries, peas, and whole grains, according to the Mayo Clinic. Beans are another good source of fiber. People with type 2 diabetes who ate at least a cup of legumes daily for three months had lower blood glucose levels as measured by the A1C test, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Beans also are an excellent source of folate, which is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a common diabetes complication, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Men should aim for 30 to 38 g of fiber per day, and women should eat 21 to 25 g per day, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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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:
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.
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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Can A Continuous Glucose Monitor Help With Low Blood Sugar
A continuous glucose monitor measures the bodys glucose levels in real-time by sensing the glucose present in tissue fluid . A CGM typically provides your glucose level every five minutes, which can be really helpful for tracking and finding patterns in how your glucose changes throughout the day. With CGM you can see how much time you spend in your target glucose range each day , notice trends, and develop strategies to improve your diabetes management.
CGMs can sound alerts when glucose levels drop below a certain threshold or are predicted to do so soon. This can be especially helpful for people who experience hypoglycemia unawareness, nighttime low blood sugar, or frequent hypoglycemic events. CGMs also allow you to share your glucose readings with your loved ones and care-partners in real time, so that they can let you know or help you out if your blood sugar starts to drop.
If you are interested in trying CGM, ask your healthcare team if the technology is available to you. You can also try ten-days of CGM for free.
How Long Does It Take For Blood Sugar To Go Down
Multiple factors, such as dietary patterns, health, and medications, can influence a persons blood sugar levels. A person can seek a doctors advice on the best strategies to manage their blood glucose. As an individuals blood sugars can fluctuate and go down quickly, it is important to monitor them closely.
Typically, medications such as insulin can help reduce blood sugars quickly. Different types of insulin exist, and each type has a different onset and duration meaning how long it takes to work and how long the effects last, respectively.
For example, rapid-acting insulin typically begins to work within about 15 minutes , has the strongest effect in approximately an hour, and lasts for a few hours.
Other methods, such as exercise, can help lower blood sugars for up to about 24 hours by making the body more sensitive to insulin. Generally, it is advisable to exercise 13 hours after eating, as this is likely when blood sugar levels will be highest. However, it is important to check these levels before exercising and to check them regularly, particularly after any grueling activity.
If a person takes insulin, their risk of experiencing hypoglycemia may be highest 612 hours after exercising. Additionally, it is worth noting that health experts advise caution if exercising with high blood sugars, as physical activity may cause them to rise even higher.
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Examples Of Appropriate Snacks May Be:
- 6 saltine crackers
- 1 slice toast and 1/2 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.
How To Treat A Low Blood Sugar Level Yourself
Follow these steps if your blood sugar level is less than 3.5mmol/L or you have hypo symptoms:
You do not usually need to get medical help once you’re feeling better if you only have a few hypos.
But tell your diabetes team if you keep having hypos or if you stop having symptoms when your blood sugar level is low.
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Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
With hypoglycemia, the blood sugar falls below the normal, healthy levels mentioned earlier, which can occur for a variety of reasons.
“Although some people with blood sugar problems may not experience symptoms,” Dr. Aldasouqi continued, “there are some key things to look out for. For those with low blood sugar, someone might have symptoms like anxiety, sweating, increased heart rate, confusion, and may go into what is called ‘a hypoglycemic coma’… The term ‘diabetic coma’ is also used by some.”
Other symptoms of low blood sugar may include:
- Tingling or numb lips, tongue or cheek
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.
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Why Am I Having Lows
If you are experiencing low blood glucose and youre not sure why, bring a record of blood glucose, insulin, exercise, and food data to a health care provider. Together, you can review all your data to figure out the cause of the lows.
The more information you can give your health care provider, the better they can work with you to understand what’s causing the lows. Your provider may be able to help prevent low blood glucose by adjusting the timing of insulin dosing, exercise, and meals or snacks. Changing insulin doses or the types of food you eat may also do the trick.
High And Low Blood Sugar Levels Monitoring
Blood sugar management can get difficult at times. Keeping a glucometer will prove beneficial for blood sugar monitoring and controlling diabetes better. Aglucometeris a device that helps you take a sugar reading comfortably, from wherever you are. The ones which connect via a smart app allow you to share readings with your doctor and also help keep track of your past readings.
For the right advice, you should always consult your health coach. They give you advice based on your age, lifestyle and medication. They are especially helpful during an emergency.
It is only when you know whether your sugar level is high, low or in the controlled range that you will be able to optimise your diet and lifestyle.
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.
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Warning Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia can cause both short- and long-term complications. Know the signs so that you can treat the condition as soon as youre aware of it.
As a person living with diabetes, you know how important it is to reduce blood sugar when it is too high, a phenomenon called hyperglycemia. But blood sugar that is too low, or hypoglycemia, is equally critical to avoid.
Hypoglycemia happens when the amount of blood glucose drops to a level thats too low to sustain normal functioning, says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, who is based in Sparta, New Jersey. In most people, this is defined as a blood sugar level at or below 70 milligrams per deciliter .
Hypoglycemia is common among people with type 2 diabetes, according to a review published in June 2015 in the journal PLoS One. Individuals with the condition had an average of 19 mild or moderate episodes of hypoglycemia per year and nearly one severe episode per year on average, according to the researchers. Low blood sugar was particularly common among those taking insulin.
This decrease in blood sugar levels can cause both short-term complications, like confusion and dizziness, as well as more serious issues, including seizures, coma, and, rarely, death, according to the American Diabetes Association .
Hypoglycemia is usually the result of a too-high dose of insulin or a change in diet or exercise habits, according to Harvard Health Publishing.