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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Nondiabetic Hypoglycemia
Nondiabetic hypoglycemia symptoms can vary from person to person and range in severity.
The most common symptoms are:
- Numbness or tingling in your cheeks, lips, or tongue
- Lack of concentration
- Blurred vision or impaired vision
If you have episodes of hypoglycemia and feel any of these symptoms and are not a diabetic, please eat or drink something that will raise your blood glucose level quickly such as hard candy, fruit juice, regular soda, or glucose tablets and seek medical attention if you have severe hypoglycemia.
The most common causes include:
How To Test Your Blood Sugar At Home
To perform a blood sugar test, you will need to prick your finger with a lancet . Youll put a small sample of blood from this onto a strip inserted into the blood glucose meter.
Before you test your blood sugar at home, its important to find out from your doctor what a healthy blood sugar range is for you. Your doctor will determine this range based on factors such as:
- the type of diabetes you have
- how long youve had diabetes
- whether you have any other chronic health conditions
If you dont have a blood sugar testing machine on hand and are experiencing signs or symptoms of low blood sugar with diabetes, your symptoms may be enough to diagnose low blood sugar.
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What Are The Complications Of Low Blood Glucose
Mild-to-moderate low blood glucose can be easily treated. But severely low blood glucose can cause serious complications, including passing out, coma, or death.
Repeated episodes of low blood glucose can lead to
- high blood glucose levels, if worry or fear of low blood glucose keeps you from taking the medicines you need to manage your diabetes8
- hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition in which you dont notice any symptoms of low blood glucose until your blood glucose level has dropped very low
Nighttime Low Blood Sugar
While low blood sugar can happen at any time during the day, some people may experience low blood sugar while they sleep. Reasons this may happen include:
- Having an active day.
- Being physically active close to bedtime.
- Taking too much insulin.
- Drinking alcohol at night.
Eating regular meals and not skipping them can help you avoid nighttime low blood sugar. Eating when you drink alcohol can also help. If you think youre at risk for low blood sugar overnight, have a snack before bed.
You may wake up when you have low blood sugar, but you shouldnt rely on that. A continuous glucose monitor can alert you with an alarm if your blood sugar gets low while youre sleeping.
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What Is Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar is a level of sugar, or glucose, in the blood that is lower than normal. According to the American Diabetes Association, the cut-off value for Level 1 hypoglycemia, or moderately low blood sugar, is 70 mg/dl. However, you may not be regularly measuring your blood sugar if you have not been diagnosed with diabetes. Instead, you might suspect that you have hypoglycemia because of its symptoms. The fatigue, fuzzy thinking, and need to sit down are the result of your body being deprived of its main fuel source: glucose.
Youre Getting Yeast Infections More Often Than Usual
Hyperglycemia may lead you to get more frequent genital yeast infections. The culprit is often a type of yeast known as Candida albicans, per the ADA. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in females the symptoms can include: vaginal itching, redness or soreness pain during sexual intercourse pain or discomfort during urination and thick, abnormal vaginal discharge. While yeast infections are common in people who dont have diabetes, having more glucose in your blood puts you at higher risk of getting them. The yeast feeds off the glucose, and if your blood sugar is high theres more glucose in the urinary tract, explains Bandukwala. Uncircumcised men with hyperglycemia are also at risk, he says.
Were also seeing this happen a little more now with patients who take SGLT-2 inhibitors, which force the body to expel more glucose through the urine, the endocrinologist adds. The FDA has added a warning to the prescribing information for SGLT-2 inhibitors about a far more rare and potentially fatal genital condition, known as necrotizing fasciitis of the perineum, or Fourniers gangrene .
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Its Easy To Miss The Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
Dr. Block explains, Most of the time, people experience symptoms of low sugar, but they may not recognize those symptoms. This can include irritability, anxiety, palpitations, confusion and fatigue. The symptoms are nonspecific, so it is important to have regular meals and snacks with a healthy well-balanced diet. If symptoms do not improve with dietary changes, it is important to check in with your physician to help assess hypoglycemia. They may recommend advanced blood testing, a professional continuous glucose monitor or nutrition counseling.
What To Know About Blood Sugar
Dr. Block tells us, “Blood sugar is what your body uses to process and produce energy. It is important to include healthy carbs in your diet like veggies, fruits and dairy to provide fuel to your body. Low blood sugar and skipping meals can cause fatigue.” McDermott says, “When we discuss blood sugar, we are talking about glucose in the bloodstream. This glucose is an energy source for our body. Insulin helps get the glucose into our cells to be able to be used for our daily activities, from using your brain at work to running after the dog. Increases and decreases of blood sugar throughout the day is essential for optimal functioning. Glucose fuels your brain and your muscles. We just want to keep blood sugars within a healthy range, both on the higher and the lower ends.”
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Youre Hungrier Than Usual But Losing Weight
Many people with uncontrolled high blood sugar find that theyre hungrier than usual, which signals a symptom called polyphagia, MedlinePlus notes. And although youre eating more, you may be losing weight for no apparent reason if your blood sugar levels are too high, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Since your body is not getting energy from the preferred source, glucose, it has to turn to muscle and fat, Zanini explains. When your body starts breaking down muscle and fat for energy, you experience unintentional and unhealthy weight loss. In addition to these changes in weight and appetite, you may notice weakness in your muscles and experience more frequent falls, Emanuele adds.
Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
Having diabetes is like trying to keep the peace between two feuding side of your family: the Lows and the Highs. You get pretty good at avoiding them, but then you unexpectedly bump into Aunt Low in the grocery store, and theres now avoiding her.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, happens when insulin has actually done its job too well and has transferred glucose from your blood to your cells so effectively that your blood sugar goes low, increasing the risk of insulin shock. It can happen if you dont eat enough carbohydrates, exercise more than planned, inject too much insulin, or for reasons yet unknown .
Low blood sugar generally kicks in at 70 mg/dL or less, but target glucose levels vary, so be sure to talk to your doctor about what levels are healthy for you. Everyone will react to a low differently, so its important to be aware of all the signs and be ready to react. Here are 14 signs of low blood glucose:
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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.
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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You Notice Tingling And Numbness In Your Hands Or Feet
As mentioned, uncontrolled blood sugar can cause nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy. What you may notice is a tingling sensation or even numbness in your hands and feet. Some people experience pain in their hands and feet as well. Though neuropathy is most common in people who have had diabetes for a long time, it can occur in anyone with poorly controlled diabetes.
What Is Nondiabetic Hypoglycemia
Nondiabetic hypoglycemia is low blood sugar, also called glucose, that occurs in people who do not have diabetes.
Hypoglycemia without diabetes is very rare, and usually only occurs when you have other medical conditions.
If you have hypoglycemia, this means your fasting levels of blood sugar are below 70 milligrams per deciliter , or 3.9 millimoles per liter , with fasting meaning you havent eaten in a long time.
Please see your doctor or healthcare provider if you have low blood sugar and are uncertain of the cause.
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How Do I Treat Low Blood Glucose
If you begin to feel one or more symptoms of low blood glucose, check your blood glucose level. If your blood glucose level is below your target or less than 70 mg/dL, follow these steps
At What Number Range Are You Considered Diabetic
Question Originally asked by Community Member teresa At What Number Range Are You Considered Diabetic what numbers must you have to be consider borderline and what number range to be considered to be diabetic such as type 2 diabectic and type 1 Answer Hello teresa, Diagnosis of diabetes is based on blood sugar measurements. The difference between type 1 and type 2 is not based on blood sugar levels, but in the mechanisms that raise blood sugar. Fasting glucose levels above 140 mg/dl on at least two occations are diagnosic for diabetes. Anything above 110mg/dl but less than 140mg/dl after fasting is considered impaired impaired glocose tolerence. There is a formal test, called a glucose tolerance test, that involves ingesting a specified amount of glucose and lthen measuring how the blood sugar levels increase and fall. Likely, anybody with a blood sugar level about 200 mg/dl on at least 2 occasions without fasting is likely diabetic and needs to be treated. To your health, Neil MD You should know Answers to your question are meant to provide general health information but should not replace medical advice you receive from a doctor. No answers should be viewed as a diagnosis or recommended treatment for a condition. Answered By: Neil MDContinue reading > >
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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.
Rebound Hypoglycemia After Eating
If sugar comes from the food you eat, why would blood sugar be low after eating? It may be due to a phenomenon called reactive hypoglycemia. This refers to low levels of blood glucose that react to high levels. According to Mayo Clinic, it can occur within 4 hours of eating a meal.
Say breakfast includes pancakes, syrup, and fruit juice. The meal is full of carbs: starch in the pancakes, added sugar in the syrup, and natural sugar in the fruit juice. Those carbohydrates get absorbed fast.
Blood sugar can skyrocket, especially in people who have prediabetes or diabetes. You may feel a sugar high, or burst of energy, within minutes to an hour of eating. Thenthe crash. The higher they fly, the harder they fall, is spot-on for blood sugar. If it went up, up, up, it will go down, down down, possibly below normal levels and into the range of hypoglycemia.
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Causes Of Low Blood Sugar
There are many reasons why you may have low blood sugar, including:
- Taking too much insulin.
- Not eating enough carbs for how much insulin you take.
- Timing of when you take your insulin.
- The amount and timing of physical activity.
- Drinking alcohol.
- How much fat, protein, and fiber are in your meal.
- Hot and humid weather.
- Unexpected changes in your schedule.
- Spending time at a high altitude.
- Going through puberty.
When Are Hypoglycemia And Hyperglycemia An Emergency
Mild hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are usually treatable at home.
If you have mild hypoglycemia, consuming a small amount of glucose can quickly raise your blood sugar.
If you skipped a dose of medication and have symptoms of mild hyperglycemia, taking your insulin or diabetes medication can help stabilize your blood sugar level.
Hypoglycemia is an emergency if you experience confusion, blurry vision, or seizures.
Hyperglycemia is an emergency if you have:
- shortness of breath
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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.
How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed
If you suspect you have low blood sugar, its important to check your blood sugar right away. If you dont have a blood glucose meter and youre on diabetes medications that increase insulin, talk with your doctor about getting a meter.
If you experience low blood sugar often say, a few times a week see your doctor right away to find out why. Your doctor will begin your visit by requesting your medical history, asking questions about your eating habits, and learning more about the symptoms youre experiencing.
If you dont have diabetes but suspect you have hypoglycemia, talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor will use three criteria, sometimes referred to as Whipples triad, to diagnose low blood sugar:
- Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor may require you to fast, or abstain from drinking and eating for an extended period of time, so they can observe your low blood sugar signs and symptoms.
- Documentation of low blood sugar when your signs and symptoms occur. Your doctor will order a blood test to analyze your blood sugar levels in a laboratory.
- Disappearance of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will want to know whether the signs and symptoms go away when your blood sugar levels are raised.
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