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What Happens When Blood Sugar Drops

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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.

What Are The Signs Of Hypoglycemia

An individual may frequently wake up in the middle of the night as a result of nighttime hypoglycemia. In other instances, though, people may know if they experienced hypoglycemia during their sleep if they notice the following symptoms:

  • Waking up with a headache
  • Waking up in a sweat
  • Getting unusual feelings of tiredness throughout the day
  • Experiencing anxiety or heart palpitations
  • Feeling confused, dizzy or weak

How To Treat Low Blood Sugar

If you think you have low blood sugar, be sure to check it.

Keeping your blood sugar levels on target as much as possible can help prevent or delay long-term, serious health problems. While this is important, closely managing your blood sugar levels also increases your chance for low blood sugar . Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low. If you think you have low blood sugar, check it. If you arent able to check it, go ahead and treat it.

Untreated low blood sugar can be dangerous, so its important to know what to do about it and to treat it immediately.

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What You Can Do

If you have diabetes, a great way to help keep anxiety away is to keep your blood sugar in a safe range. Thatâs not as easy as it sounds. But these tips can make it a bit easier:

Be careful with insulin. Too much of it is the most common reason for low blood sugar. If youre taking insulin to treat your diabetes, be sure to use the right type and dose every time. When you inject it, make sure to do it just under your skin. A shot into the muscle absorbs too fast and doesnât last as long.

Go low . Some foods make your blood sugar shoot up fast and drop a few hours later. Other foods keep it on a more even keel. A foodâs glycemic index is a good way to know which is which.

Its a number that gives you an idea of how fast your body turns carbs into sugar. The higher the number, the quicker it happens and the higher your blood sugar will spike. High-glycemic foods include:

  • Carbs like white bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes

Low-glycemic foods include:

A Low Blood Sugar Level Without Diabetes

What Happens When Your Blood Sugar Drops Below 20?

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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What Is The Blood Glucose Test Procedure At Home

Blood sugar testing using a blood glucose meter requires a small sample of blood to be placed on a disposable test strip. Even if you use CGM, you will need a blood glucose meter to calibrate your CGM device daily.

Consult your doctor about which device is best for you and how to use it. Read and follow the instructions that come with your device.

Testing your blood glucose levels at home usually involves the following steps:

  • Wash and dry your hands well.
  • Insert a test strip into your meter.
  • Prick the side of your fingertip with the lancet provided with your device.
  • Gently squeeze your finger until a drop of blood forms on the tip.
  • Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood.
  • In a few seconds, the meter will display your blood glucose level on the screen.

Severe Low Blood Sugar

As your low blood sugar gets worse, you may experience more serious symptoms, including:

  • Having difficulty walking or seeing clearly.
  • Acting strange or feeling confused.
  • Having seizures.

Severe low blood sugar is below 54 mg/dL. Blood sugar this low may make you faint . Often, youll need someone to help you treat severe low blood sugar.

People with diabetes may experience low blood sugar as often as once or twice a week, even when managing their blood sugar closely. Knowing how to identify and treat it is important for your health. Learn how to treat low blood sugar.

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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:

Tips For Managing Diabetes & Alcohol Consumption

What happens to your blood sugar when you work out?

The best thing to do to help manage your diabetes and alcohol consumption is to speak with your doctor. They can give you personalized advice based on your condition and drinking habits.

Here are some tips that can help you manage your alcohol consumption if you have diabetes:

  • One drink per day for women, and two drinks for men, is considered moderate drinking
  • Never drink on an empty stomach, or when your blood sugar levels are low
  • Choose light beer over heavy craft beers
  • Avoid sugary drinks

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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.

Possible Causes With Diabetes

Diabetes affects your bodys ability to use insulin. Think of insulin as the key that unlocks your cells, letting in glucose for energy.

If you have diabetes, a variety of treatments can help the cells in your body use the glucose in your blood. Among these are insulin injections and oral medications that increase insulin production.

If you take too much of these types of medications, your blood sugar may drop too low. You may also sometimes experience low blood sugar if you plan to eat a big meal but then do not eat enough.

Skipping meals, eating less than usual, or eating later than usual but taking your medication at your usual time can also lead to low blood sugar levels.

Unplanned excess physical activity without eating enough can also cause a drop in blood sugar levels.

Drinking alcohol when youre on these medications can also lead to low blood sugar, especially if it replaces food. When your body is trying to get rid of alcohol, it becomes worse at managing blood sugar levels.

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If Your Mind Is Cloudy Hands Shake And You Begin To Sweat You Might Be Experiencing Low Blood Sugar

Medically reviewed in February 2021

The balance between glucose, or sugar, and insulin in an individuals bloodstream is a delicate one. For people with diabetes, glucose and insulin levels are vitaltoo little insulin can cause glucose to climb to dangerous levels. Too much insulin, however, can cause low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, which can be an emergency. Individuals living with diabetes and those around them should know the signs of low blood sugar, and how to quickly treat the condition.

Hypoglycemia can cause seizures or loss of consciousness, making it an important condition to detect and treat as soon as possible. Levels that fall below 70 milligrams per deciliter are considered low and often dangerous.

A drop in blood sugar in diabetics can be caused by a number of factors, including too much insulin or other medication for diabetes, unusually vigorous exercise, drinking alcohol or skipping meals.

Know the symptoms: The first step in treating a drop in blood sugar is knowing the signs. In addition to educating yourself on the symptoms of hypoglycemia, its important to let your family, friends and others around you know what to look for.

The symptoms of low blood sugar usually begin quickly, with mild signs like headache, shakiness, sweating, hunger and irritability. Its possible for low blood sugar to occur at night when an individual is sleeping, too. Nightmares, profuse sweating and confusion when waking can signal a drop in blood sugar.

Listen To Your Doctor

How low can blood sugar drop before going into a coma?

If you follow a meal plan or take medications that increase insulin to manage low blood sugar, its important to stick to the plan your doctor prescribed to help prevent drops in your blood sugar level.

Not eating the right foods or taking the right medications at the correct times can cause your blood sugar to drop. Check in often with your doctor so they can adjust your treatment plan if and when necessary.

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How Does A Continuous Glucose Monitor Work

A CGM works through a tiny sensor inserted under your skin, usually on your belly or arm. The sensor measures your interstitial glucose level, which is the glucose found in the fluid between the cells. The sensor tests glucose every few minutes. A transmitter wirelessly sends the information to a monitor.

The monitor may be part of an insulin pump or a separate device, which you might carry in a pocket or purse. Some CGMs send information directly to a smartphone or tablet. Several models are available and are listed in the American Diabetes Associations product guide.

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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.

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What Would Happen If Your Blood Sugar Is Zero

Low blood sugar can happen when you skip a meal. It can also happen if your pancreas releases more insulin than it should after youve eaten. Another possible cause of low blood sugar is drinking too much alcohol, especially on an empty stomach. This can interfere with the livers ability to release stored glucose into your bloodstream. Hepatitis and other problems with your liver can also lead to low blood sugar. Other causes include kidney disorders, anorexia nervosa, a pancreatic tumor, or adrenal gland disorders. There are a variety of symptoms of low blood sugar, but the only way to be sure what your blood glucose levels are is by taking a blood glucose test. After you eat, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose to fuel your body. As your sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. The insulin helps glucose travel within your bloodstream to cells throughout your body. If you have insulin-dependent diabetes, you must take the right about of insulin to get the job done. Any excess glucose goes to your liver for storage. When you go a few hours without eating, blood sugar levels go down. If you have a healthy pancreas, it releases a hormone called glucagon. That tells your liver to process the stored sugars and release them into your bloodstream. If everything works as it should, your blood sugar levels should remain in the normal range until your next meal.Continue reading > >

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Fasting and Blood Glucose | Jason Fung

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Possible Causes Without Diabetes

Even if you dont have diabetes, you may experience low blood sugar. However, hypoglycemia is much less common in people without diabetes.

Some possible causes of low blood sugar in people who dont have diabetes are:

  • certain medications, such as quinine
  • some medical conditions, such as hepatitis and kidney disorders
  • a tumor that produces excess insulin
  • endocrine disorders, such as adrenal gland deficiency

How Do You Treat Low Blood Sugar

A popular method for treating low blood sugar is to follow the Rule of 15. This is when a person experiencing low blood glucose eats 15 grams of carbohydrates, then waits for 15 minutes for their glucose to rise.

These 15 minutes can feel impossibly long, but its important to be as patient as possible to see if the initial intake of 15 grams of carbohydrates is working.

If glucose levels have not come up in the initial 15 minutes, the person should consume 15 more grams of carbohydrates and repeat the process.

If they are using a continuous glucose monitoring system, they should remember that it can take a few more minutes for the interstitial glucose to reflect the glucose absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. It is best to check a fingerstick in 15 minutes to confirm that glucose is rising, as the rise in glucose could be delayed on CGM.

When in doubt, use a fingerstick to verify glucose levels especially if the symptoms dont match the CGM values.

Another way to treat low blood sugar is by using glucagon.

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