How To Deal With Low Blood Sugar
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Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, happens when the glucose level in the blood falls below the normal range.
Given that glucose is your bodys primary source of energy, this condition can make you run out of steam and can give rise to a range of discomforting symptoms. Thus, you have to take measures to pump up your dwindling blood sugar back within the normal range in order to feel normal again.
If left untreated, your blood sugar level can fall further, which could induce serious complications such as loss of consciousness and seizures. Plus, a severely low blood sugar level poses a risk to your life if not treated immediately.
For those taking insulin, a low blood sugar level is considered to be less than 70 mg/dL. For those who are not diabetic and/or dont take insulin, blood sugar levels typically need to fall below 60 mg/dL before they would experience symptoms.
How To Treat A Low Blood Sugar Level Yourself
Follow these steps if your blood sugar level is less than 3.5mmol/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.
What You Can Do Before To Try And Dodge Any After Effects
Choose creamy puddings like a crème brulee or tiramisu, and fruit-based puddings like a strawberry tart, instead of cakes and cookies, which contain a lot more sugar.
Or, have a sweet pudding just after or close to a balanced meal, and not in isolation.
This will limit the spike in blood sugar because of the protein, fiber and fat from the meal.
Drink lots of water and limit sweet alcoholic drinks such as cocktails, and where possible choose sugar-free mixers.
Choose a pudding containing cinnamon, or sprinkle some in a drink or over your ice cream. Cinnamon has been shown to stabilize blood sugar after consuming carbohydrates .
If the sweet is a packaged food, read the nutrition label anything more than 22.5g sugar per 100g is in the high sugar category, so try to stay as close to this figure as possible.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.
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Treating Low Blood Sugar
You are at risk of having a low blood sugar reaction if you:
- Skip or delay a meal or snack
- Take too much insulin or eat too few carbohydrates
- Drink alcohol, especially without eating carbohydrates
Check your blood sugar if you have any of these symptoms:
- Weakness and/or fatigue
If your blood sugar is less than 70 milligrams per deciliter :
- Eat 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate
- Wait 15 minutes and then recheck your blood sugar
- If your blood sugar is still less than 100 mg/dl, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate and retest your blood sugar in another 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
Important: If you have frequent low blood sugars speak to your doctor. You may need changes in your medication and/or meal plan.
What Are Some Tips To Prevent Nighttime Blood Sugar Level Dips
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Managing Blood Sugar Crashes
If you’re prone to low blood glucose, it’s a good idea to carry a source of fast-absorbing carbs with you. Follow up with your doctor and take a glucose tolerance test if this is your first episode and you don’t have diabetes.
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In the meantime, eat small, frequent meals rather than fewer large meals filled with a mix of healthy, nutrient-rich foods. If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about the best way to prevent low blood sugar. He may adjust your medication or recommend making dietary changes to keep your blood more stable, such as eating high-protein snacks between meals.
When To Avoid Exercise
People with blood sugar levels above 240 mg/dL should check their urine for ketones before engaging in physical activity. If ketones are present, do not exercise. Ketones are the result of stored fat being broken down for energy. Your liver starts breaking down fat when theres not enough insulin in your bloodstream to absorb blood sugar into cells. When too many ketones are quickly produced, they can cause DKA. In this state, ketones may actually make your blood sugar level go even higher and you may need intravenous fluids to rebalance.
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Preventing A Low Blood Sugar Level
If you have diabetes, you can reduce your chance of getting a low blood sugar level if you:
- Check your blood sugar level regularly and be aware of the symptoms of a low blood sugar level so you can treat it quickly.
- Always carry a sugary snack or drink with you, such as glucose tablets, a carton of fruit juice or some sweets. If you have a glucagon injection kit, always keep it with you.
- Do not skip meals.
- Be careful when drinking alcohol. Do not drink large amounts, check your blood sugar level regularly, and eat a carbohydrate snack afterwards.
- Be careful when exercising eating a carbohydrate snack before exercise can help to reduce the risk of a hypo. If you take some types of diabetes medicine, your doctor may recommend you take a lower dose before or after doing intense exercise.
- Have a carbohydrate snack, such as toast, if your blood sugar level drops too low while you’re asleep
If you keep getting a low blood sugar level, talk to your diabetes care team about things you can do to help prevent it.
What If I Have Severe Low Blood Glucose And Cant Treat Myself
Glucagona hormone that raises blood glucose levelsis the best way to treat severely low blood glucose. Available as an injection or a nasal spray, glucagon will quickly raise your blood glucose level. Your doctor can prescribe you a glucagon kit for use in case of an emergency.
If your blood glucose level drops very low, you wont be able to treat it by yourself. Be prepared to address severely low blood glucose by
- talking with your doctor or health care team about when and how to use a glucagon emergency kit. If you have an emergency kit, regularly check the date on the package to make sure it hasnt expired.
- teaching your family, friends, and coworkers when and how to give you glucagon. Tell them to call 911 right away after giving you glucagon or if you dont have a glucagon emergency kit with you.
- wearing a medical alert identification bracelet or pendant. A medical alert ID tells other people that you have diabetes and need care right away. Getting prompt care can help prevent the serious problems that low blood glucose levels can cause.
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Be Careful With Healthy Processed Snack Foods
Some processed snack foods have a health halo. They seem healthy at first glance, and words like wholesome or natural may be used in their marketing to make them seem healthier than they actually are.
Surprisingly, these snacks can contain just as much sugar as chocolate and candy bars.
Dried fruit is a great example. Its full of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. However, it also contains concentrated amounts of natural sugar , so you should moderate your intake to keep from overdoing it (
Save those sugary breakfasts for special occasions and try these low sugar breakfasts instead:
- oatmeal sweetened with fresh fruit
- Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
- egg scramble with cheese and veggies
- avocado on whole grain toast
Choosing a low sugar option with plenty of protein and fiber at breakfast will also help you feel full until lunchtime, preventing unnecessary snacking .
Checking For Low Blood Sugar Levels
The warning signs of hypoglycemia are the body’s natural response to low blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels fall too low, the body releases the hormone adrenaline, which helps get stored glucose into the bloodstream quickly. This can make someone:
- start shaking
- have an increased heart rate
If the hypoglycemia isn’t treated, more serious symptoms may happen, such as drowsiness, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
The only way to know for sure if you’re having a low blood sugar level is to test. Blood sugar levels can be tested with a . This computerized device measures and displays the amount of glucose in a blood sample. But if you can’t quickly check your blood sugar level, it’s important to treat yourself for hypoglycemia immediately to prevent symptoms from getting worse.
Sometimes a person with diabetes may have symptoms of low blood sugar levels, but blood sugar levels are not actually low. This is a called a false reaction. The hormone adrenaline is not just released when blood sugar drops too low it’s also released when blood sugar levels fall quickly when they’re too high. If you’re having a false reaction, you might actually have blood sugar levels in a healthy range but feel as if you have low blood sugar. Testing blood sugar levels before treating yourself for hypoglycemia can help you figure out if you’re having a false reaction.
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Check For Sugar In Canned Foods
Canned foods can be a useful and inexpensive addition to your diet, but they can also contain a lot of added sugar.
Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars. However, these arent usually an issue since they dont affect your blood sugar the same way added sugar does.
Avoid canned foods that are packed in syrup or have sugar on the ingredient list. Fruit is sweet enough, so go for versions labeled packed in water or no added sugar.
If you buy canned fruits or vegetables that do have added sugar, you can remove some of it by rinsing them in water before you eat them.
What To Eat When You Have Low Blood Sugar
When your blood sugar dips, it can leave you feeling hungry, shaky, and lightheaded. This can happen to anyone who hasnt eaten in several hours. When blood sugar drops below normal levels, its called hypoglycemia. In people with , hypoglycemia can be a life-threatening complication of diabetes medication, other health problems like infection, or inadequate caloric intake.
You can lower your chances of low blood sugarand treat it when it occurswith some simple steps.
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Preventing Low Blood Sugar
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Different people may feel low blood sugar levels differently. People with low blood sugar may:
- feel hungry or have “hunger pains” in their stomach
- feel shaky or like they’re trembling
- have a rapid heart rate
- feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
- have pale, gray skin color
- have a headache
- have seizures or convulsions
- lose consciousness
If you have diabetes, try to remember how your body reacts when your blood sugar levels are low. It may help you figure out when you’re having a low blood sugar level more quickly the next time.
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Avoid Drinking Too Much Coffee
Coffee is great.
I love it!
Maybe a bit too much
However, individuals with poor liver and/or adrenal function tend to get a stress response from drinking coffee.
Coffee/caffeine stimulates the metabolism and demands a lot of energy and resources it can quickly lower your blood sugar if you havent eaten enough, or if your liver isnt working at a 100% capacity and you cant mobilize energy.
If your blood sugar is wonky or you have a tendency to get hypoglycemic, reduce coffee to maybe 1 cup per day and/or make sure to put some milk and sugar in your coffee.
What Causes High Blood Sugar
To better manage hyperglycemia, its helpful to know potential triggers. Probably the first thing most people think about is foodin particular, carbohydratesand I would say even more specifically, simple carbohydrates would be the most likely culprit, says Dr. Hong. Foods that have a high glycemic index include things like white bread, potatoes, or rice.
Beyond that, a common cause for a rise in blood sugar is a missed insulin dose, but its not always a matter of forgetting an injection. For example, in patients who are using an insulin pump, if the pump malfunctions or if there is a kink in the tubing or the infusion site is lodged and they are not aware that the insulin is not infusing, then that may happen, says Lorena Wright, M.D., an endocrinologist and the director of the LatinX Diabetes Clinic atUW Medicine. Insulin that is exposed to heat wont work as well either. Its not toxic, but it’s just not as effective, says Dr. Wright. That means your typical dose might not be as potent as youre used to, making the insulin less effective.
What about stress or hormone fluctuations? Yes, absolutely, stress can certainly cause a rise in blood sugars, says Dr. Hong. In regards to hormonal fluctuations, some female patients with type 1 diabetes will experience differences in their blood glucoses depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle but this effect is not often seen in patients with type 2 diabetes.
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How To Treat Someone Who’s Having A Seizure Or Fit
Follow these steps if someone has a seizure or fit caused by a low blood sugar level:
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to have a seizure or fit.
How Do I Treat Low Blood Glucose
If you begin to feel one or more symptoms of low blood glucose, check your blood glucose level. If your blood glucose level is below your target or less than 70 mg/dL, follow these steps
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