How Is It Treated
You can treat a sudden episode of low blood sugar by eating or drinking something with sugar in it. Some examples of “quick-sugar foods” are fruit juice, soda, milk, raisins, and hard candy. You may also take glucose tablets. This is usually all that’s needed to get your blood sugar level back up in the short term.
If your hypoglycemia is caused by a health condition, you may need treatment for that condition. There also may be steps you can take to avoid low blood sugar. For example, talk to your doctor about whether changes in your diet, medicines, or exercise habits might help.
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.
How Can I Prevent Low Blood Sugar
Your best bet is to practice good diabetes management and learn to detect hypoglycemia so you can treat it earlybefore it gets worse.
Monitoring blood sugar, with either a meter or a CGM, is the tried and true method for preventing hypoglycemia. Studies consistently show that the more a person checks blood sugar, the lower his or her risk of hypoglycemia. This is because you can see when blood sugar levels are dropping and can treat it before it gets too low.
If you can, check often!
- Check before and after meals.
- Check before and after exercise .
- Check before bed.
- After intense exercise, also check in the middle of the night.
- Check more if things around you change such as, a new insulin routine, a different work schedule, an increase in physical activity, or travel across time zones.
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Knowing Your High And Low Blood Sugar Symptoms Allows You To Test
Once you understand symptoms of high and low blood sugar, it is possible to test quickly and avoid serious problems.
Keeping to a clear target range is one of the key goals of diabetes management, and knowing when you have the symptoms of high or low blood sugar levels allows you to test your blood sugar and make a correction.
It can be important to recognise the difference between low and high blood sugar symptoms. Being able to spot when youre high or low and sugar can help you to manage your diabetes.
Where possible, its best to check with your blood glucose meter, whether you are high or low, before taking any remedial action. If blood sugar is regularly high you may get recurrent episodes of thrush.
High blood sugar is serious and can result in nausea, vomiting or loss of consciousness. In type 2 diabetes, this can in the form of a condition called Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State and in type 1 diabetes in the form of ketoacidosis.
It is important to seek emergency medical help.
Very low blood sugar can lead to convulsions and unconsciousness. It is important to seek emergency help if the person with diabetes is unable to bring their sugar levels back to normal.
The University of Birminghams Medical School states that if the body becomes used to being low on sugar, hypo symptoms can become less noticeable. Loss of symptoms of low blood sugar in particular can be dangerous.
If you have difficulty recognising the symptoms of hypoglycemia, speak to your doctor.
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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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.
What Are All The Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
There is a long list of low blood sugar symptoms, which we have listed below. Some lists overlap symptoms of high blood sugar with symptoms of low blood sugar. That is because some people will have certain symptoms with low blood sugars, while another person with diabetes may experience the same type of symptom with a high blood sugar. Here is a fairly exhaustive list of symptoms of low blood sugar:
- talking or crying in sleep
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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.
How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy
Follow these steps:
They may need to go to hospital if they’re being sick , or their blood sugar level drops again.
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to lose consciousness.
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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.
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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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.
Check Your Blood Sugar Level Regularly
The best way to become familiar with your blood sugar trends is to check your blood glucose. Checking your blood glucose regularly will help you identify how you respond when your blood sugar is high or low.
People who check their blood sugar regularly tend to have better blood glucose control compared to those who dont.
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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.
I had felt it coming, but I was in the middle of work with my new project, and my boss needed it turned in by the end of the morning. I kept working, thinking my breakfast was still digesting, and it would counteract my low feelings.
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.
It was as if the universe was conspiring against me, and handing me the low blood sugar agenda that I didnt want or need.
I sat unable to speak or move. I heard the administrative manager calling for EMS. I shook my head, but again I could not speak-confusion taking over. I reached for her desk where she had an unopened soda on one corner, but I was too weak. Too confusedLights fadingGoing downGoodnight!
How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed
If you suspect you have low blood sugar, its important to check your blood sugar right away. If you dont have a blood glucose meter and youre on diabetes medications that increase insulin, talk with your doctor about getting a meter.
If you experience low blood sugar often say, a few times a week see your doctor right away to find out why. Your doctor will begin your visit by requesting your medical history, asking questions about your eating habits, and learning more about the symptoms youre experiencing.
If you dont have diabetes but suspect you have hypoglycemia, talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor will use three criteria, sometimes referred to as Whipples triad, to diagnose low blood sugar:
- Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor may require you to fast, or abstain from drinking and eating for an extended period of time, so they can observe your low blood sugar signs and symptoms.
- Documentation of low blood sugar when your signs and symptoms occur. Your doctor will order a blood test to analyze your blood sugar levels in a laboratory.
- Disappearance of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will want to know whether the signs and symptoms go away when your blood sugar levels are raised.
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Get A Free 7 Day Diabetes Meal Plan
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Key Points About Hypoglycemia In Children
Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood glucose is too low to fuel the brain and the body.
It may be a condition by itself, or may be a complication of diabetes or another disorder.
To treat low blood glucose right away, your child should eat or drink something with sugar, such as orange juice, milk, cake icing, or a hard candy. They should follow with food with complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein, such as a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Severe or long-lasting hypoglycemia may result in seizures and serious brain injury.
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Low Blood Sugar After Meals
If a person has low blood sugar shortly after finishing a meal, they could have reactive hypoglycemia.
People recovering after recent stomach surgery may be at a higher risk of this after meals. This is because food passes through the stomach too quickly.
Similarly, people who experience pre-diabetes may notice a drop in blood sugar levels after eating because their bodies cannot regulate insulin properly.
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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What Are The Signs Of High And Low Blood Sugar
The symptoms vary depending on whether you have hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. Find out how to spot the warning signs and stabilize your glucose.
One of the challenges of managing diabetes is maintaining consistent blood sugar levels. Even with diligence, some situations can cause high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, while others can bring on low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.
After all, its not just carbohydrate intake that influences the amount of glucose coursing through your bloodstream when you have type 2 diabetes. Emotional stress and certain medications can increase your blood sugar levels, and a boost in activity can cause it to drop, says Megan ONeill, CDCES, a medical science liaison for diabetes care at Abbott healthcare company in Monterey, California. Sometimes people experience a spike in their blood sugar early in the morning due to the dawn effect, a temporary surge of hormones that occurs as the body prepares to wake, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
For people with diabetes, managing blood glucose levels is especially important, ONeill says. Levels that are too low or high can result in complications that affect your kidneys, heart, and vision, reduce your quality of life, require expensive interventions, or even be fatal.
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- Between 80 and 130 milligrams per deciliter before meals
- Less than 180 mg/dL two hours after meals
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