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Symptoms Of High And Low Blood Sugar

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How Does Blood Sugar Level Work

High and Low Blood Sugar Symptoms

With a lack of nutrients and food that contain glucose, the blood sugar level will begin to decline. This is known as hypoglycemia.

After blood sugar becomes low, the pancreas releases a peptide hormone called glucagon. When this happens, the glucose that is stored in the body for energy is instructed to release due to the liver. This causes the glucose to turn into glycogen, known as the glycogenesis process. This is what can help a body to regain energy as the readily stored glycogen, in the liver and muscles, will release into the body.

On the other hand, the blood sugar can also rise and become too high which is known as hyperglycemia.

When the body does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, blood sugar levels begin to increase. This is because glucose relies on the insulin hormone to help it absorb into the bloodstream. Usually, this occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin, known as type 1 diabetes, or does not respond to insulin correctly, known as type 2 diabetes.

Eating too many processed foods can also cause your blood sugar level to rise. If there is not enough insulin present in the body, too much bad food can cause your blood sugar level to build up.

For those with a normal blood sugar level, this will be due to eating the right foods and your body being able to produce and respond to insulin.

You may be wondering what exactly causes an imbalance in blood sugar levels, so here is a roundup:

High Blood Sugar Symptoms

The typical blood sugar target for someone with diabetes who has not yet eaten is 80 to 130 milligrams per deciliter . Within two hours of starting a meal, the level should be less than 180mg/dL. Blood sugar is typically considered high when the levels are over these thresholds.

Keep in mind that your blood sugar targets may be different based on factors like age and other health conditions you may have. The targets are also different for people without diabetes.

Testing your blood sugar levels, such as with a glucometer, is the main way to tell if your blood sugar is too high. However, even before you check your levels, you may experience symptoms of high blood sugar.

What To Do To Prevent Hypoglycemia:

Try to test your blood sugar. If you are too shaky, eat or drink a fast-acting carbohydrate such as:

  • 6 ounces of a regular soft drink
  • 8 ounces skim milk
  • 8 Sweet Tart candies
  • 2 tablespoons raisins

Test blood sugar every 15 to 30 minutes until it is above 100. Eat a second fast-acting carbohydrate if needed. If your next regular meal is more than two hours away, eat a snack such as half a sandwich or three peanut butter or cheese crackers. If you are unconscious, someone should call 911 immediately. You should not be given anything by mouth if you are unconscious.

Be sure to tell your doctor about this episode in case your medication needs to be adjusted.

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How Can I Prevent Low Blood Sugar

Your best bet is to practice good diabetes management and learn to detect hypoglycemia so you can treat it earlybefore it gets worse.

Monitoring blood sugar, with either a meter or a CGM, is the tried and true method for preventing hypoglycemia. Studies consistently show that the more a person checks blood sugar, the lower his or her risk of hypoglycemia. This is because you can see when blood sugar levels are dropping and can treat it before it gets too low.

If you can, check often!

  • Check before and after meals.
  • Check before and after exercise .
  • Check before bed.
  • After intense exercise, also check in the middle of the night.
  • Check more if things around you change such as, a new insulin routine, a different work schedule, an increase in physical activity, or travel across time zones.

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Low Blood Sugar From Not Eating

Handling high and low blood sugar levels

Hypoglycemia can occur with malnutrition and starvation, when you dont get enough food and the glycogen stores your body needs to make glucose are depleted. An eating disorder called anorexia nervosa is one example of a condition that can cause hypoglycemia and lead to prolonged starvation.

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Hyperglycemia Vs Hypoglycemia: What You Need To Know

Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia are dangerous conditions that affect millions of Americans each year. Know the signs, symptoms, and treatments for each.

1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. The disease has grown exponentially over the last six decades and remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. With statistics like these, coupled with growing media coverage on the detrimental effects of the standard North American diet on our health, sugar is getting a bad rap. And with good reason.

Sugar wreaks havoc on our health.Among its many adverse effects, it can cause our blood glucose levels to spike and plummet it can interfere with immune function and increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease it can accelerate aging and tooth decay it can have adverse effects on behavior. In short, sugar is bad news. And the levels of sugar in our blood, play a direct role in our health.

How To Calculate Your Blood Sugar Level: The Complete Guide

To get an accurate reading of your blood sugar level, the best and most effective method is using a glucose meter. This will involve a small prick in your finger so receive a blood sample. The strip is then inserted into the meter and tested.

You may be wondering what your reading should be. There is no normal reading, an ideal reading differs from person to person. Everyone will get different readings at different times of the day. However, there is a rough range to determining a low, normal and high blood sugar level. Blood sugar level is read in mmol/L, which stands for millimoles per liter. Here is a guide as to what an ideal reading is for each diabetic type and non-diabetic patients:

Child
4 5.9 mmol/L< 7.8 mmol/L 4 5.9 mmol/L< 7.8 mmol/L

It is advised to check it regularly if you are concerned, show regular symptoms or have diabetes. You should check before meals, exercise, before bedtime and after driving. Everyone is different so it is best to ask your doctor if you are unsure how many times and when you should check your blood sugar levels.

Research shows that over 50% who try to estimate their blood sugar level reading are incorrect. This may be due to over underlying medical conditions that did not know they had or poor lack of judgement. Therefore, this suggests it is very important to test at home to check in on your levels regularly to avoid any unnecessary future complications.

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Moderate To Severe High Blood Sugar

If your blood sugar levels are consistently high , you may have moderate to severe symptoms of high blood sugar. These symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision.
  • Restlessness, drowsiness, or difficulty waking up.

If your body produces little or no insulin , you also may have:

  • Rapid, deep breathing.
  • A fast heart rate and a weak pulse.
  • A strong, fruity breath odor.
  • Loss of appetite, belly pain, and/or vomiting.

If your blood sugar levels continue to rise, you may become confused and lethargic. You also may become unconscious if your blood sugar levels are very high.

Diabetic Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Syndrome

Low Blood Sugar vs High Blood Sugar

Diabetic hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome, or HHS, is a complication from very high blood sugars in people with type 2 diabetes.

It doesnt occur in people with type 1 diabetes, who experience a different complication called diabetic ketoacidosis when blood sugar levels are dangerously high.

HHS is a condition of:

  • Extremely high blood sugar level
  • Extreme lack of water
  • In many cases, decreased alertness or consciousness

Normally, the kidneys help to filter out extra blood glucose by increasing the amount of urine removed from the body. This is why one of the symptoms of diabetes is increased urination.

When excess urine is removed from the body, it can lead to dehydration. When the body is dehydrated, it cant make enough urine to flush out the extra sugar.

This leads to hyperosmolality, where the blood has higher concentrations of glucose , salt, and other substances. This can cause water to be drawn away from other sources of fluid, such as the brain, which is why it can cause an altered level of consciousness.

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High Blood Sugar Causes

You may be thinking that hyperglycemia can happen just from eating a super-sugary food, but its not really as simple as that. Sure, eating a lot of sugar or carbs can elevate your blood sugar level, but thats typically when your pancreas kicks into gear and creates insulin to move that glucose into cells throughout the body.

But when someone has diabetes, this finely tuned system gets thrown out of whack. In type 2 diabeteswhich accounts for 90% to 95% of diabetes in adults, according to the CDCthe body either cant make enough insulin or cant utilize insulin well, according to the NIDDK. If someone has prediabetes, their blood glucose will be higher than normal but not quite in the type 2 diabetes range yet, per the NIDDK. And in type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin or makes very little.

In any case, the result is extra sugar hanging around the bloodstream, making you feel like total crap in the short term and putting your health at risk in the long term.

Beware Of Low Blood Sugars

Remember, above all else, its very easy to over-treat a high blood sugar and wind up low. Then youll be tempted to binge-eat and wind up high again. This blood sugar roller coaster is exhausting and dangerous, too.

Frequently finding yourself on the blood sugar roller coaster means your approach to taking insulin and/or how you treat low blood sugars isnt working and needs some fine-tuning. Work with your healthcare team to reduce and prevent these wild swings to ensure your overall safety and quality of life!

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Thyroid And Low Blood Sugar

When the term blood sugar comes to mind, we usually think of high blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, and other problems.

While these issues are common and pose a major threat to our wellbeing, it is also important to bear in mind low blood sugar isnt good for your health either.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a potentially dangerous condition indicated by insufficient glucose amounts for production of energy in the bodys cells.

Main causes of low blood sugar are certain medications, tumors, endocrine disorders, and some medical conditions.

Studies reveal that hypothyroidism is associated with different hormonal, biochemical, and nervous system abnormalities which have the potential to contribute to hypoglycemia.

For example, hypothyroidism is related to low growth hormone and cortisol responses to insulin-induced hypoglycemia, thus blocking the proper counter regulatory protection.

When blood sugar levels decrease, the adrenal glands address this issue by secreting hormone cortisol. Then, the hormone sends a signal which tells the liver to produce higher amounts of blood sugar, thus bringing the levels of glucose to normal.

The problem occurs when the repeated release of cortisol in patients with hypoglycemia suppresses pituitary function. The thyroid gland cant operate properly without adequate pituitary functioning.

Evidence suggests that dysfunction of pituitary could be a direct consequence of hypothyroidism, rather than a cause of thyroid dysfunction.

Examples Of Appropriate Snacks May Be:

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  • 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.

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How Do You Treat Hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar levels happen when theres too little glucose left in the bloodstream to continue supplying fuel to your organs, muscles, and tissues. It most often occurs when you dont eat enough food, especially carb-containing foods, given your blood-sugar-lowering medications and physical activity levels, ONeill says. Levels can decrease gradually or suddenly.

When the amount of glucose in the bloodstream drops to too-low levels, the body reacts by releasing epinephrine, also called adrenaline or the fight or flight hormone. Epinephrine revs your heart rate and can cause sweating, shaking, anxiety, and irritability. If not enough glucose is able to reach the brain, the result may be difficulty concentrating, confused thinking, and slurred speech. In extreme cases, a lack of glucose within the brain can lead to seizures, coma, and even death, she says.

People with low glucose levels can use the ADAs 15-15 Rule, which advises people consume 15 g of carbs, wait 15 minutes, and check their levels again. If the number is still low, repeat until reaching at least 70 mg/dL.

You can find 15 g of carbs in:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 small piece of fresh fruit
  • cup of yogurt
  • Three to four hard candies
  • Glucose tablets as indicated on the label
  • Glucose gel as indicated on the label

Once your glucose levels are back to normal, the ADA suggests going ahead and eating your next scheduled meal or snack, which will help prevent levels from dropping again.

When To Call The Doctor

If signs of low blood sugar do not improve after you have eaten a snack that contains sugar, have someone drive you to the emergency room or call your local emergency number . DO NOT drive when your blood sugar is low.

Get medical help right away for a person with low blood sugar if the person is not alert or cannot be woken up.

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How Can I Prevent Low Blood Glucose

Your best bet is to practice good diabetes management and learn to detect hypoglycemia so you can treat it earlybefore it gets worse.

Monitoring blood glucose, with either a meter or a CGM, is the tried and true method for preventing hypoglycemia. Studies consistently show that the more a person checks blood glucose, the lower his or her risk of hypoglycemia. This is because you can see when blood glucose levels are dropping and can treat it before it gets too low.

If you can, check often!

  • Check before and after meals.
  • Check before and after exercise .
  • Check before bed.
  • After intense exercise, also check in the middle of the night.
  • Check more if things around you change such as, a new insulin routine, a different work schedule, an increase in physical activity, or travel across time zones.

What Happens If My Blood Glucose Level Becomes Too Low

Lesson 3: High vs. Low Blood Sugar (English)

Sometimes blood glucose levels drop below where they should be, which is called hypoglycemia. For most people with diabetes, the blood glucose level is too low when it is below 70 mg/dL.

Hypoglycemia can be life threatening and needs to be treated right away. Learn more about how to recognize and treat hypoglycemia.

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How Do I Measure Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, you probably already keep a watchful eye on your blood sugar through the use of a continuous glucose monitor or a blood sugar meter . Blood sugar measurement is also typically included in routine lab work for people without diabetes your physician will usually order a glycated hemoglobin test, which measures your average blood sugar over the past two to three months.

Say your A1C test comes back with no sign of diabetes constantly measuring your blood sugar can still be helpful. For instance, some people experiment with using a CGM to see how their body responds to different types of food. However, its good to note that this is a fairly cost-intensive way of figuring out your nutrition, and writing down a food diary that includes how you felt after each meal will also help you figure out what to eat.

Check out these blood sugar monitors if youre looking for recommendations on how to keep track of your levels at home.

Preventing Low Blood Sugar

Preventing low blood sugar is better than having to treat it. Always have a source of fast-acting sugar with you.

  • When you exercise, check your blood sugar levels. Make sure you have snacks with you.
  • Talk to your provider about reducing insulin doses on days that you exercise.
  • Ask your provider if you need a bedtime snack to prevent low blood sugar overnight. Protein snacks may be best.

Do not drink alcohol without eating food. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day and men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. Family and friends should know how to help. They should know:

  • The symptoms of low blood sugar and how to tell if you have them.
  • How much and what kind of food they should give you.
  • When to call for emergency help.
  • How to inject glucagon, a hormone that increases your blood sugar. Your provider will tell you when to use this medicine.

If you have diabetes, always wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. This helps emergency medical workers know you have diabetes.

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