Treating Someone Having A Seizure
Follow these steps if someone has a seizure due to low blood sugar:
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to have a seizure.
Treating An Episode Of Hypoglycaemia
The immediate treatment for hypoglycaemia is to have some sugary food or drink to end the attack.
For example, this could be:
- a glass of fruit juice or non-diet soft drink
- between three and five dextrose tablets
- a handful of sweets
At first you should avoid fatty foods and drinks, such as chocolate and milk, because they don’t usually contain as much sugar and the sugar they do contain may be absorbed more slowly.
After having something sugary, you should have a longer-acting carbohydrate food, such as a few biscuits, a cereal bar, a piece of fruit or a sandwich.
It will usually take around 15 minutes to recover from a mild episode of hypoglycaemia. If you have a blood glucose meter, measure your blood sugar again after 15 to 20 minutes. If it’s still too low , you should have some more sugary food or a drink before testing your levels again in another 15 to 20 minutes.
When treating someone else with hypoglycaemia, if the above treatment isn’t effective, you may be able to help them by applying glucose gel to the inside of their cheeks, and gently massaging the outside of their cheeks.
It may take 10 to 15 minutes before they feel better. This shouldn’t be done if the person is drowsy or unconscious because of the risk of choking.
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.
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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.
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What To Do When Your Blood Sugar Levels Drop Too Low
People who use insulin and other diabetes medications are at risk for hypoglycemia. Keep this action plan handy so youre prepared.
If you take insulin or diabetes medication, you may be at risk of developing hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Without quick attention, hypoglycemia can lead to serious complications, so its important to know what to do if it happens to you or someone close to you.
In very severe cases, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures or loss of consciousness, says a clinical assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, gerontology, and metabolism at Stanford Health Care, and chief of the Stanford Endocrine Clinic.
Its possible to have hypoglycemia but have no symptoms, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . On the other hand, symptoms can also come on rapidly. While symptoms vary from person to person, if you develop mild to moderate low blood sugar you may:
- Feel shaky or jittery
- Have a headache or be lightheaded
- Be irritable or combative
- Have blurred vision or see double
Some people feel tingling or numbness in their extremities too, says Rodolfo Galindo, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, metabolism, and lipids at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and chair of the inpatient diabetes taskforce.
Now Lets Hear From Jim
A few days after I received nutritional education and began watching my carbohydrates more closely, I realized quickly that my insulin dose was too high. On those days, when I went in to work, I quickly went out. I became lucid and unresponsive at one point. I had just recently started work there, and so no one really knew what to do.
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I had a slight headache, but attributed it to sinuses. I chose denial of a little weakness and some mild sweating over succumbing to the low blood sugar. I had left my glucometer at home. The drink machine at the office was not working, and I had left my cooler pack with drinks and snacks on the counter in a rush out the door.
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Why Is Balanced Blood Sugar Important
Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main source of energy for your body. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Once your food is broken down in the stomach, the sugars and starches are turned into glucose, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Your blood carries the glucose to all of your cells to give them energy.
When your blood sugar levels are balanced, your body is able to work as it should. Your moods will be more balanced, and you may have more energy.
When it is out of balance for extended lengths of time, you may be diagnosed with diabetes. If you do not manage your diabetes properly, it may put you at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, slow healing wounds, and nerve damage.
Low Blood Sugar And Nausea
Whether people have diabetes or not, when they have mild low blood sugar, they may feel extremely hungry, often also nauseated. This symptom combination is the first sign of low blood sugar and is caused by the release of the stress hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline.
When your blood sugar drops, it triggers the fight-or-flight response, causing a surge of adrenaline. This flood of adrenaline functions as a helper, moving stored glucose into the bloodstream quickly. However, this surge isnt without effects. Other symptoms like sweating, shakiness, and anxiousness can also be caused by this process.
That said, people with diabetes shouldnt assume their nausea is always related to low blood sugar. The only way to know for certain is to measure your blood sugar. If your levels are within the normal range, other factors may be contributing to your nausea.
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Preventing Low Blood Sugar Levels
Here are some other tips to help you avoid low blood sugar levels:
- Eat all your meals and snacks on time and try not to skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
- Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly, so you can tell if your blood sugars are running too low and your treatment plan needs adjustment.
- Carry something containing sugar with you at all times and take it right away if you have symptoms. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away they may get worse!
Alcohol and drugs can cause major problems with your blood sugar levels, so avoiding them is another way to prevent diabetes problems. Drinking can be particularly dangerous even deadly for people with diabetes because it messes up the body’s ability to keep blood glucose in a normal range. This can cause a very rapid drop in blood glucose in people with diabetes. Drug or alcohol use is also dangerous because it may affect someone’s ability to sense low blood sugar levels.
Learning how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar levels and get them back to normal is an important part of caring for diabetes. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels and recording lows when they occur will help you and your diabetes health care team keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
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.
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Symptoms Of Blood Sugar Dropping Too Fast
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How To Treat Low Blood Sugar
The best way to approach low blood sugar treatment is through prevention. Eating consistent meals and snacks containing carbohydrates, monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly, and taking your medications as prescribed are all ways to prevent hypoglycemia.
If you do develop low blood sugar, there are several things you can do at home.
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How To Avoid Low Blood Sugar
For some people, lows can be very scary, but Ive never passed out from a low or had a seizure, so lows dont scare me as such. But I will still do everything I can to avoid them!
I rarely have lows, and I think there are several reasons for that. Most importantly, I wear a CGM. Since my CGM warns me before I go low, I can be proactive and prevent it from happening. I also test my blood sugars frequently and have spent a lot of time figuring out my insulin needs for different times of the day, types of exercise, and types of food. It didnt happen overnight, but Im happy to say that for me, low blood sugars are rarely severe and they are far apart.
We all experience lows differently, but I think anybody who has ever experienced what low blood sugar feels like will agree that its beyond uncomfortable!
Next time one of your loved ones asks how do you feel when your sugar is low? consider showing them this post and the video. Its impossible to fully understand if you have never tried it yourself, but at least this post should give them some understanding of what you are going through.
Make Some Small Changes
You might try to get more exercise, or limit carbs at your next meal, but donÃ¢t go crazy. Ã¢One blood sugar thatÃ¢s high doesnÃ¢t indicate a need for major changesthat should only be done on a pattern,Ã¢ says Rice, such as Ã¢continuing highs despite following a doctorÃ¢s instructions.Ã¢ If a pattern continues for two to three days or more, then you might want to let your health-care provider know.
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Prevention Of Low Blood Sugar
Do not skip or delay meals. If your diet plan includes snacks, make sure to take these.
Measure insulin dosage carefully and inject it properly. If you cannot see well, a family member or a visiting nurse can prepare your insulin injections for you.
Take only the prescribed amount of insulin or oral medication for diabetes that your doctor has ordered.
Keep exercise consistent from day to day. Eat a snack or reduce your insulin prior to unusual exercise.
If you are taking insulin, notify your doctor if you have low blood sugars four or more times per week or if you have a severe low blood sugar. Severe low blood sugars are those less than 40 mg., those requiring help from another person, or those which cause you to have a convulsion or become unconscious.
If you are taking oral medication for your diabetes notify your doctor or nurse if blood sugars are running less than 80 mg. or if you have a severe low blood sugar.
Whats The Link Between Diabetes And Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is most common, by far, in people with diabetes. Treatment for the diseaseoften involves taking medication to increase insulin. Hypoglycemia can develop if things like food, exercise and diabetes medications are out of balance.
Common pitfalls for people with diabetes include:
- Being more active than usual.
- Drinking alcohol without eating.
- Eating late or skipping meals.
- Not balancing meals by including fat, protein and fiber.
- Not eating enough carbohydrates.
- Not timing insulin and carb intake correctly .
Also, if someone with diabetes uses the wrong insulin, takes too much or injects it incorrectly, that can cause hypoglycemia.
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Eating Or Drinking Carbohydrates
If your blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL, it should be treated by eating or drinking something containing 15 grams of carbohydrate.
Fruit juice and candies are preferred since they are rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream. It doesnt take much juice to treat low blood sugar about one-half cup of juice contains around 15 grams of carbohydrates.
How Does High Blood Sugar Affect The Body
High sugar in the blood can lead to a number of other symptoms and complications. Here are just a few.
Urination and thirst: High blood sugar goes into the kidneys and urine. This attracts more water, causing frequent urination. This can also lead to increased thirst, despite drinking enough liquids.
Weight loss: High blood sugar can cause sudden or unexplained weight loss. This occurs because the bodys cells are not getting the glucose they need, so the body burns muscle and fat for energy instead.
Numbness and tingling: High blood sugar can also cause numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands, legs, and feet. This is due to diabetic neuropathy, a complication of diabetes that often occurs after many years of high blood sugar levels.
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