What Is Considered Low Blood Sugar
For the average person with diabetes, low blood sugar means anything under 80 mg/dL .
Very low blood sugars are any readings under 40 mg/dL. Anything under 40 mg/dL is considered extremely dangerous and potentially fatal.
A person is at a significantly higher risk of falling into a diabetic coma if they cannot get their blood sugar above 40 mg/dL for several hours.
If a person is experiencing a severe low, and they are unable to chew food or swallow liquids, they will require an emergency shot of Glucagon .
Signs Of Hypoglycemic Unawareness
Some people have no symptoms of low blood sugar. The only symptom you may have is confusion. Or you may become unconscious before anyone realizes you have low blood sugar.
You may have hypoglycemic unawareness if you:
- Cannot tell by your symptoms that your blood sugar is low.
- Have low blood sugar several times a week.
- Have type 1 diabetes, or have had type 2 diabetes for a long time.
If you have hypoglycemic unawareness, test your blood sugar often, especially before activities like driving a car. Keep quick-sugar foods with you. If you take insulin, carry a glucagon emergency kit. You can also give friends and family instructions to treat low blood sugar.
Complications From Spells Of Hypoglycemia
Mildly low blood sugar levels are somewhat common for people with diabetes. However, severely low blood sugar levels can be life threatening. They may lead to seizures and nervous system damage if left untreated long enough. Immediate treatment is critical.
Its important to recognize your symptoms and treat them quickly. For people at risk for low blood sugar, having a glucagon kit a medication that raises blood sugar levels is important. Talk with your doctor for more information.
You may also want to talk with friends, family members, exercise partners, and co-workers about how to care for you if your blood sugar drops too low.
Its important for them to recognize low blood sugar symptoms and to know how to use the glucagon kit, as well as understand the importance of calling 911 if you lose consciousness.
Wearing a medical identification bracelet is a good idea. It can help emergency responders care for you properly if you need urgent medical attention.
Treat low blood sugar as soon as possible. Avoid driving if you are experiencing low blood sugar, as it can increase your risk for having an accident.
There are several ways you can prevent low blood sugar. Well look at each of these prevention methods in more detail below.
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Low Blood Glucose During Sleep
Your blood glucose level can drop while you sleep and stay low for several hours, causing serious problems.7 Symptoms of low blood glucose while you sleep can include
- crying out or having nightmares
- sweating enough to make your pajamas or sheets damp
- feeling tired, irritable, or confused after waking up
Although you may not wake up or notice any symptoms, low blood glucose can interfere with your sleep, which may affect your quality of life, mood, and ability to work. Having low blood glucose during sleep can also make you less likely to notice and respond to symptoms of low blood glucose during the day.
What You Can Drink With Meals
Add a low-calorie, low-sugar drink or choose water. Proper hydration is essential to helping your body remove excess sugar.
Some drinks that are good for keeping your blood sugar level low include:
- Unsweetened tea
- Unsweetened coffee
- Sparkling water or club soda
- Flavored water or sparkling water without added sugar
- Diet soda or other diet drinks
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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
- Blurry vision
Hypoglycemia Tests And Diagnosis
To diagnose nondiabetic hypoglycemia, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about any medicines you take. Theyâll want to know all about your health and any history of diseases or stomach surgery.
Theyâll check your blood glucose level, especially when you are having symptoms. Theyâll also check to see if you feel better when your sugar goes back to a normal level.
If your doctor suspects hypoglycemia, you may have to fast until you start to have symptoms. Theyâll test your blood glucose level at different times throughout the fast.
To check for reactive hypoglycemia, you may have to take a test called a mixed-meal tolerance test . For this, you take a special drink that raises your blood glucose. The doctor will check your blood glucose levels over the next few hours.
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How Low Can Your Blood Sugar Go Before You Die
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The Danger Of High Blood Sugar
Having a high blood sugar means there is too much sugar in the blood because the body is lacking in insulin. This can happen for many reasons, including not taking enough insulin exogenously, too little exercise, eating too much, or even stress, hormonal changes, or lack of sleep.
High blood sugar is dangerous, but its important to remember that high blood sugar is mostly dangerous over prolonged periods of time .
This means that, for the most part, your blood sugar at diagnosis will not cause long-term complications, and the spike you saw last week from eating an ice cream sundae wont impact you over the long term.
But chronic, prolonged high blood sugars will cause diabetes complications in most people.
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Check Your Blood Sugar Often
Talk with your provider about when you should check your blood sugar every day. People who have low blood sugar need to check their blood sugar more often.
The most common causes of low blood sugar are:
- Taking your insulin or diabetes medicine at the wrong time
- Taking too much insulin or diabetes medicine
- Taking insulin to correct high blood sugar without eating any food
- Not eating enough during meals or snacks after you have taken insulin or diabetes medicine
- Skipping meals
- Waiting too long after taking your medicine to eat your meals
- Exercising a lot or at a time that is unusual for you
- Not checking your blood sugar or not adjusting your insulin dose before exercising
- Drinking alcohol
What Is Considered High Blood Sugar
Blood sugar levels are considered high in people with diabetes once theyre more than the recommended 120 mg/dL, however, having a blood sugar of 145 mg/dL usually wont cause any problems .
For most people, high blood sugars become symptomatic once the blood sugar level reaches between 180-200 mg/dL.
Blood sugars above 200 mg/dL need to be treated immediately with insulin , and any blood sugar over 250 mg/dL requires that you do a urine test for ketones, to make sure youre not spiraling into diabetic ketoacidosis .
This is when the bodys blood turns acidic due to prolonged, dangerously high blood sugar levels and ketones in the blood. This can be fatal if not treated immediately.
This can occur when one is sick or battling an infection, due to a pump infusion site failure or even if you forgot to take your insulin for a few days.
Unfortunately, about 25% of newly diagnosed people with type 1 diabetes are diagnosed when they are already in DKA.
If you are experiencing a blood sugar higher than 250 mg/dL along with moderate to high ketones for several hours and cannot get your blood sugar down, contact your doctor immediately and seek emergency medical attention.
People with diabetes are at heightened risk of falling into a diabetic coma from high blood sugar once their blood sugar levels reach 600 mg/dL or higher.
This is a true medical emergency, is extremely dangerous, and can be life-threatening. If you are in this situation, you should call 911.
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What Causes Hypoglycemia In A Child
Hypoglycemia can be a condition by itself. Or it can be a complication of diabetes or other disorder. Its most often a problem in someone with diabetes. It occurs when theres too much insulin. This is also called an insulin reaction.
Causes in children with diabetes may include:
Too much insulin or oral diabetes medicine
The wrong kind of insulin
Incorrect blood-glucose readings
Tingling feelings around the mouth
Nightmares and confusion on awakening
The symptoms of hypoglycemia can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
What Is Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose, also called low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops below what is healthy for you. For many people with diabetes, this means a blood glucose reading lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter .1 Your number might be different, so check with your doctor or health care team to find out what blood glucose level is low for you.
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Whole Grain Bread And Your Blood Sugar
If youâre wanting to lower or manage your blood sugar, itâs helpful to limit your consumption of refined and processed carbohydrates like baked goods and white bread, for example.
When you eat heavier amounts of processed carbohydrates, your body quickly breaks them down into glucose, which enters your blood and can raise your blood sugar levels.
This can pose a problem for those with diabetes or prediabetes because their bodies struggle to produce insulin properly, and insulin is what helps absorb the glucose from your bloodstream.
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Thankfully, high-fiber whole grains like oats and barley can actually help improve blood glucose levels because fiber isnât absorbed by your body and doesnât create a blood sugar spike.
Buying whole-grain bread that is high in these fibrous ingredients and low in refined sugars can be a great way for you to manage your blood sugar. But what should you look for when youâre at the grocery store to make sure you get the best kind?
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Examples Of Appropriate Snacks May Be:
- 6 saltine crackers
- 1 slice toast and 1/2 cup milk
- 1 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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Blood Sugar Levels: What’s Normal What’s Not And How To Measure
What do blood glucose levels mean and what range is healthy? Here’s what you need to know.
Sugar can lead to high blood sugar and contributes to the development of diabetes.
We all want to keep track of our health in every way we can — you may weigh yourself, keep track of your blood pressure or monitor your resting heart rate. But how close of an eye do you keep on your blood sugar?
People with diabetes are all too familiar with their blood sugar levels, but the rest of us might not even think about it much. However, consistently high blood sugar levels can coexist with Type 2 diabetes and cause serious health conditions like kidney disease, nerve problems or stroke.
While that’s no reason to panic, when it comes to our health, it’s important to know exactly what’s going on inside of our bodies. Without further ado, let’s get into what blood sugar means, how to measure it and everything else you need to know.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Each person’s reaction to low blood sugar is different. Learn your own signs and symptoms of when your blood sugar is low. Taking time to write these symptoms down may help you learn your own symptoms of when your blood sugar is low. From milder, more common indicators to most severe, signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Feeling shaky
- Color draining from the skin
- Feeling sleepy
- Feeling weak or having no energy
- Blurred/impaired vision
- Tingling or numbness in the lips, tongue or cheeks
- Nightmares or crying out during sleep
The only sure way to know whether you are experiencing low blood sugar is to check your blood sugar, if possible. If you are experiencing symptoms and you are unable to check your blood sugar for any reason, treat the hypoglycemia.
A low blood sugar level triggers the release of epinephrine , the fight-or-flight hormone. Epinephrine is what can cause the symptoms of hypoglycemia such as thumping heart, sweating, tingling and anxiety.
If the blood sugar level continues to drop, the brain does not get enough glucose and stops functioning as it should. This can lead to blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, confused thinking, slurred speech, numbness, and drowsiness. If blood sugar stays low for too long, starving the brain of glucose, it may lead to seizures, coma and very rarely death.
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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.
What Is Hypoglycaemia
Hypoglycaemia or low blood glucose occurs when your blood glucose level is less than 4 mmol/L, or where symptoms of hypoglycaemia are experienced at a level close to this.
Normally, when blood glucose lowers, your body lowers the amount of insulin it is putting out. This stabilises blood glucose by stopping glucose moving into your bodys cells and releasing stored glucose from your liver. This may not happen if you have diabetes.
When you have diabetes and are taking insulin , you can still get the same low blood glucose level if you run out of glucose coming in from your food. But when your body senses that your blood glucose is becoming lower and it tries to switch off its insulin, it cant. This is because you have injected your insulin .
This means the insulin continues to move glucose into your bodys cells and your liver doesnt start releasing stored glucose. So, your blood glucose level keeps going down and can soon be dangerously low.
Because your brain needs glucose all the time to function, if you cut off the supply of glucose and do not take action, you will eventually become unconscious.The following video from Diabetes UK helps explain the common symptoms, causes and treatment.
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Why Do Hypos Happen
Understanding why you get hypos can help you prevent them from happening as often.
We dont always know why hypos happen, but some things make them more likely. These include:
- missing or delaying a meal or snack
- not having enough carbohydrate at your last meal
- doing a lot of exercise without having extra carbohydrate or without reducing your insulin dose
- taking more insulin than you needed
- drinking alcohol on an empty stomach.
Insulin and some other diabetes medications can make you more likely to have a hypo. Check with your diabetes healthcare team if youre not sure whether the treatment youre on is likely to cause hypos.