How To Treat A Low Blood Sugar Level Yourself
Follow these steps if your blood sugar level is less than 4mmol/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.
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.
How Do I Check My Blood Sugar
Checking your blood sugar is simple and can be done at home with the right equipment. The most traditional and effective way of doing so is with a glucose meter. You wash your hands to wash away germs, prick your finger with a needle, apply the blood from the pricked finger to a test strip and insert it into the machine. Your blood sugar level will appear on the meters display. Alternatively, there are a few modern methods that have been developed. They show results but are considered not to be as accurate as glucose meters.
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What Are The Treatment Options For Hypoglycemia
Children with hypoglycemia have different symptoms, and these vary from one child to another. But no matter what your childs symptoms, the overriding goal is the same to bring the blood sugar back up to normal as rapidly as possible and return your child to good health.
Most often, your childs blood sugar can be brought back up to normal by eating or drinking something that has sugar in it, such as fruit juice, regular soda, table sugar, maple syrup, candy, glucose tablets, glucose gel, or cake frosting. Consider encouraging your child to:
- eat regular meals throughout the day
- eat frequent snacks
For children with diabetes, the goal is to consistently maintain a blood sugar level that is in a healthy range. This involves testing blood sugar often, learning to recognize the earliest symptoms of low blood sugar, and treating the condition quickly, based on instructions given by your childs healthcare providers.
If your child has recurrent or severe hypoglycemia, the first thing is to determine the cause, because different causes have different treatments. While the cause is determined, some children will receive glucose intravenously in the hospital to make sure their blood-sugar level stays normal.
Some causes of hypoglycemia can be treated with changes in your childs diet or medication. For some rare cases of severe hypoglycemia that dont respond to medical treatment, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove most of the pancreas.
Digestive Endocrine And Circulatory Systems
After you eat, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose. Essentially, glucose is your bodys fuel source.
As your sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which helps glucose get taken up and used by 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 to make up for the absence of food. This hormone 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.
Insufficient blood sugar levels can cause a rapid heartbeat and heart palpitations. However, even if you have diabetes, you may not always have obvious symptoms of low blood sugar. This is a potentially dangerous condition called hypoglycemia unawareness. It happens when you experience low blood sugar so often that it changes your bodys response to it.
Normally, low blood sugar causes your body to release stress hormones, such as epinephrine. Epinephrine is responsible for those early warning signs, like hunger and shakiness.
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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
Dont Drive When You Have Low Blood Sugar
It’s dangerous. If you’re driving and you have hypoglycemia symptoms, pull off the road, check your blood sugar, and eat a sugary food. Wait at least 15 minutes, check your blood sugar, and repeat these steps if needed. Eat a protein and carbohydrate source before you drive on. Be prepared. Keep a sugar source, such as glucose tablets, in your car at all times for emergencies.
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Diabetic Alert Dogs Can Help
Not only can dogs deal with low blood sugar like people, but they are also known to help their human companions detect hypoglycemia.
In a July 2016 study published in Diabetes Care, researchers studied eight women ages 41 to 51 with type 1 diabetes and found that dogs could detect isoprene chemicals, a marker of low blood sugar, on participants breath. These results suggest dogs may be able to warn their owners of impending hypoglycemic attacks. Dogs can be trained to detect such episodes.
What Causes Low Blood Sugar Without Diabetes
People with diabetes, especially those who use insulin or take certain types of diabetes medications, are at risk for low blood sugar. In some cases, people who do not have diabetes may have low blood sugar. In these cases, low blood sugar may be caused by:
- Drinking alcohol
- Certain hormone deficiencies
- Severe heart failure, kidney failure, or liver failure
- Certain types of weight-loss surgery (low blood sugar may occur 5 years or more after the surgery
- Other medications, such as certain antibiotics or drugs used to treat heart conditions
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Helping Someone Who Is Hallucinating
A person who is having hallucinations may see, hear, or feel things that aren’t there. The hallucinations can seem very real. This can very be upsetting to them.
If you’re with someone you suspect may have hyperosmolar hyperglycemic syndrome, call 911 right away. Try to stay calm and comfort them. If possible, the affected person should drink a lot of water while waiting for help.
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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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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Conditions That Can Mimic Hypoglycemia
Conditions other than hypoglycemia can have some of the same symptoms, including dizziness, weakness, sweating, and rapid heartbeat.
These include a wide variety of conditions, such as:
To decide if your symptoms are due to hypoglycemia, your healthcare provider will look for signs of the “Whipple Triad.”
- Low plasma glucose measurements while you have symptoms
- No symptoms when your glucose increases to normal levels
Without these three indications, your healthcare provider will likely evaluate you for other conditions that have similar symptoms.
What Are Clinical Trials For Low Blood Glucose
Clinical trialsand other types of clinical studiesare part of medical research and involve people like you. When you volunteer to take part in a clinical study, you help doctors and researchers learn more about disease and improve health care for people in the future.
Researchers are studying many aspects of low blood glucose levels in diabetes, such as
- how to diagnose and treat low blood glucose among people with diabetes
- medicines that can treat symptoms of low blood glucose in people with hypoglycemia unawareness
- educational approaches to reduce fear of low blood glucose, which can make it harder for you to control your diabetes
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Treatment For High Blood Sugar Levels
For those with high blood sugar levels, it is vital to keep track of your blood sugars at home on a daily basis. This can be done with a glucose meter. These test monitors are often provided to diabetic patients so that they can manage their blood sugar levels at home everyday. They are available to purchase online if you are non-diabetic but wish to check on your levels regularly for safety.
Diabetic patients can be prescribed medications to help with insulin levels when their blood sugar is high. Those with type 1 diabetes will be prescribed medication which needs to be taken several times daily. This type of diabetes has no cure but can be managed with the right medication.
Those with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes can treat their high blood sugar with a change in diet or exercise. A healthier balanced diet is usually advised and sometimes, insulin medication is also prescribed if the blood sugar level becomes abnormally higher than the high reading for diabetic patients.
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When You Have Low Blood Sugar
First, eat or drink 15 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate, such as:
- Three to four glucose tablets
- One tube of glucose gel
- Four to six pieces of hard candy
- 1/2 cup fruit juice
- 1/2 cup soft drink
- 1 tablespoon honey
Fifteen minutes after youve eaten a food with sugar in it, check your blood sugar again. If your blood sugar is still less than 70 mg/dL, eat another serving of one of the foods listed above. Repeat these steps until your sugar becomes normal.
What Are The Early Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
People who test their blood sugar regularly, or wear a continuous glucose monitor , will be able to see their blood sugarand when it fallsby testing their blood sugar .
Early signs of low blood sugar may include:
Many individuals will start to have symptoms when their blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dl. However, this is different for everyone. Some people may begin to have symptoms of low blood sugar levels before their blood glucose level drops to 70 mg/dl. Others have something called hypoglycemic unawareness, which is when you do not realize your blood sugar is low. It is important to check your blood sugar as directed by your healthcare professional, so you know if it is too low, too high, or in the target range.
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What Can Cause Low Blood Sugar Levels
Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely are:
- skipping meals and snacks
- not eating enough food during a meal or snack
- exercising longer or harder than usual without eating some extra food
- getting too much insulin
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
Also, some things may increase how quickly insulin gets absorbed into the bloodstream and can make hypoglycemia more likely. These include:
- taking a hot shower or bath right after having an insulin injection increases blood flow through the blood vessels in the skin, which can make the insulin be absorbed more quickly than usual
- injecting the shot into a muscle instead of the fatty layer under the skin
- injecting the insulin into a part of the body used a lot in a particular sport .
All of these situations increase the chances that a person may get hypoglycemia.
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.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
The good news is that you can use test strips or a continuous glucose monitor to measure your blood sugar levels, past research establishes. Its important to know that some people can feel symptoms of low blood glucose even if the blood sugar is normal, called pseudohypoglycemia. On the flip side, some mild cases of low blood sugar may not cause any symptoms at all. This is where regular at-home testing becomes important if you have diabetes, especially if you have type 1 diabetes, as established by previous research.
One of the first physical symptoms of hypoglycemia is hunger. At first, you might pass this off as being hangry if you have other symptoms like irritability from not eating in a while. But aside from hunger and irritability, the Mayo Clinic outlines other early signs of hypoglycemia, such as:
- Shakiness, which is especially noticeable in your hands
- Concentration difficulties
- Increased heart rate
In more severe or prolonged hypoglycemia, loss of consciousness and seizure are also possible.
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