Where Can I Find Support
The Hypoglycemia Support Foundation, established nearly 40 years ago, is a national group that offers many resources, including advocacy. They offer salons so that you can personally connect with people like you who are also dealing with bouts of low blood sugar.
Occasionally blood sugar crashes are so extreme they require emergency room care for an immediate dextrose IV treatment. If you have diabetes, wear a medical bracelet that does TK thing? What will this bracelet have on it? A number of one of your contacts? Can you answer and smooth out with this line? have a circle of people who serve as close contacts and are aware of your condition and how to help.
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.
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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What Is The Outlook For People With Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia can be managed when you and your healthcare provider understand what causes your blood sugar to go down. Give your healthcare provider as much information as possible about any hypoglycemic episodes. Fixing the problem may be as simple as changing the times you take medication, eat and exercise. Minor changes to the types of food you eat may also help.
What Else Can You Do To Control Blood Sugar Levels
Yes. People with diabetes should wear identification stating they have diabetes and whether they have recurrent low blood sugar. Those at risk for the health condition should be counseled on checking blood sugars before they drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or do anything physically taxing. In addition, it is important to carry a quick-acting glucose source at all times, and keep a source in their car, office, and by their bedside. Efforts should be made to minimize the hypoglycemic effects of drug regimens and to avoid variable surges in exercise, activity, and drinking alcohol.
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Treating Low Blood Glucose If You Take Medicines That Slow Down Digestion
Some diabetes medicines slow down the digestion of carbohydrates to keep blood glucose levels from rising too high after you eat. If you develop low blood glucose while taking these medicines, you will need to take glucose tablets or glucose gel right away. Eating or drinking other sources of carbohydrates wont raise your blood glucose level quickly enough.
What Causes Low Blood Glucose In People With Diabetes
Low blood glucose levels can be a side effect of insulin or some other medicines that help your pancreas release insulin into your blood. Taking these can lower your blood glucose level.
Two types of diabetes pills can cause low blood glucose
- sulfonylureas, usually taken once or twice per day, which increase insulin over several hours
- meglitinides, taken before meals to promote a short-term increase in insulin
The following may also lower your blood glucose level
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Carbs And Your Blood Sugar
First, a refresher: When you eat, your body coverts the carbohydrates in food into glucose, aka blood sugar, which your cells use for energy. When you change to a low-carb diet, however, the body needs to get most of its fuel from another source. For the first few days, your body will use stored glucose. But when that supply runs out, you start to burn fat for energy.
In the process of breaking breaks down fat, your body creates ketones. Ketones become a central energy source in very low-carb diets. In fact, the ketogenic diet, or keto diet , aims to keep the body in a continued state of ketosis, where the body uses only fat for fuel, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that 45 percent of your daily caloric intake come from carbs if you have diabetes. Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, that means 900 daily calories should come from carbs .
People with diabetes struggle with high blood sugar because their bodies either can’t use or don’t have enough insulin, a hormone critical in lowering blood glucose levels. Low-carb diets help people with diabetes easily reduce the amount of glucose available to the body. Weight loss can be an added benefit of low-carb diets for people with type 2 diabetes, who often need to manage their weight as part of their diabetes care.
Why Am I Having Lows
If you are experiencing low blood sugar and youre not sure why, bring a record of blood sugar, 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 sugar 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.
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What To Do If You Have Low Blood Sugar Symptoms
If you have diabetes and are experiencing mild to moderate hypoglycemia symptoms, you need to immediately eat or drink 15 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates.
Very low blood sugar is a medical emergency. If you or someone else with diabetes is experiencing severe symptoms, such as unconsciousness, its important to administer a medication called glucagon and contact emergency services immediately.
If youre at risk for low blood sugar, its important to talk with your doctor about getting a prescription for glucagon.
You should never give an unconscious person anything by mouth, as it could cause them to choke. If you have diabetes, make sure your family and friends know not to do this if you lose consciousness.
Low blood sugar can occur for a number of reasons. Its usually a side effect of diabetes treatment.
How Much Of A Fluctuation Is Normal
This is a bit of a loaded question, as it can depend on many factors and it also depends on the person.
As an example, fasting blood sugar that bounces between 80 mg/dL and 110 mg/dL is pretty normal those values are still considered within range.
Another normal fluctuation example would be if your blood sugar was 6.4 mg/dL one afternoon, and then a few hours later your blood sugar was 6.9 mg/dL.
Whats not necessarily normal is if your blood sugar is 75 mg/dL one morning, and then 140 mg/dL the next morning thats a large fluctuation!
The only way to know your sugar level is to check, and check often!
You may check your blood sugar before breakfast and find its 95 mg/dL , but that doesnt mean your blood sugar is going to stay at that level all day.
Ideally you want to be working toward having a blood sugar level that is within a healthy range on a consistent basis.
Fasting blood sugar:
- Between 70-100 mg/dL or 4-5.6 mmol/l
- 70-110 mg/dL or 4-6 mmol/l
- 70-130 mg/dL or 4-7.2 mmol/l
Postprandial blood sugar :
- Under 140 mg/dL or 7.8 mmol/L
The more consistent your blood sugar is on a daily basis, the better off you are. Throughout the day your levels may vary around 20-30 mg/dL naturally your goal is to stay within range as much as possible.
How Can I Prevent Hypoglycemic Episodes
The key to preventing hypoglycemic events is managing diabetes:
- Follow your healthcare providers instructions about food and exercise.
- Track your blood sugar regularly, including before and after meals, before and after exercise and before bed.
- Take all your medications exactly as prescribed.
- When you do have a hypoglycemic event, write it down. Include details such as the time, what you ate recently, whether you exercised, the symptoms and your glucose level.
How To Recognize Hypoglycemia
The first signs of hypoglycemia include feeling sweaty, shaky, and hungry. However, not everyone has these symptoms or notices them in time to prevent low blood sugar from getting worse. Its also important to know that your symptoms of hypoglycemia will change the longer you have T1D.
As hypoglycemia gets worse, symptoms can include:
- Feeling weak
- Having difficulty walking or seeing clearly
- Acting strange or getting disoriented
- Having seizures
Severe hypoglycemia may make you faint or pass out. This is dangerous if you are driving, climbing stairs, or doing other activities where you need to stay aware of things around you.
Hypoglycemia can happen at night. If it does, you are likely to wake up, but its important not to rely on your body to wake you up. A continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, can alert you and those around you with an alarm to let you know if your blood sugar starts getting low while you are sleeping.
Its a good idea to check your blood sugar often when lows are likely, such as in hot weather or when you travel. Your CGM can also let you know when your blood sugar is getting lower.
Watch out for hypoglycemia unawareness.
You might not have early warning signs of low blood sugar. This is called hypoglycemia unawareness, and it raises the risk of having severe lows. It is more likely if:
- You have had diabetes longer than 5 or 10 years
- You have frequent episodes of hypoglycemia
- You take certain medicines, such as beta blockers for high blood pressure
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Can Drinking Water Lower Blood Sugar Levels
If you experience a high blood sugar reading you should drink water as high blood sugar can make you dehydrated. Water doesnt directly lower blood sugar, but it can help dilute your blood which would temporarily fix your high blood sugar.
You should also avoid eating anything until your sugar level returns to an acceptable range. Contact your doctor if your blood sugar is above 400 mg/dL .
How Do I Use An Emergency Glucagon Kit
Most often, an emergency glucagon kit contains a vial of powder , a syringe already filled with saline . Other kits may include an auto-injector, or a nasal spray .
To use a kit by injection, follow these steps:
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Always Follow Up With The Doctor
It is very important to call your doctor as soon as possible after experiencing nocturnal hypoglycemia. The patient and doctor should try to figure out what caused the episode and how to prevent it from happening again.Often the doctor will suggest:
Changing the dose or timing of insulin or other medications
Setting an alarm for the early morning so that the patient can test their blood glucose levels and determine how often the episodes occur
Having the person wear a continuous glucose monitor that checks blood glucose every five minutes with an alarm that wakes the patient from sleep if levels start to drop too low. This option is usually reserved for patients who experience frequent or severe nocturnal hypoglycemia
Whats Needed To Be Prepared For Severe Hypoglycemia
Being prepared for severe hypoglycemia is an important part of diabetes management. This involves the person talking with their doctors about the signs and symptoms of low blood glucose and the actions to take. Other areas would likely include keeping blood glucose under control and wearing a diabetes identification bracelet or necklace to ensure proper emergency care for severe hypoglycemia. Using a glucagon kit would also be part of this conversation.
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Treating Low Blood Sugar At Night
There are two ranges of blood sugars to treat if your child is low because they need more carbohydrates if their blood sugar is less than 50.
Nighttime Low Blood Sugar Treatment For Children UNDER 5 Years Old:
|Blood Sugar 50 or less||Blood Sugar 51-100|
- Any 15 gram carbohydrate item
- 14 cup = 2 ounces
- 12 cup = 4 ounces
Do you still have questions about managing your childs blood sugar levels during the day or at night? Contact the diabetes team at Childrens Diabetes Center, Childrens Hospital & Medical Center at for more information about how to treat your childs blood sugar levels to keep them safe.
Preventing Low Blood Sugar
Preventing low blood sugar is better than having to treat it. Always have a source of fast-acting sugar with you.
- When you exercise, check your blood sugar levels. Make sure you have snacks with you.
- Talk to your provider about reducing insulin doses on days that you exercise.
- Ask your provider if you need a bedtime snack to prevent low blood sugar overnight. Protein snacks may be best.
DO NOT drink alcohol without eating food. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day and men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. Family and friends should know how to help. They should know:
- The symptoms of low blood sugar and how to tell if you have them.
- How much and what kind of food they should give you.
- When to call for emergency help.
- How to inject glucagon, a hormone that increases your blood sugar. Your provider will tell you when to use this medicine.
If you have diabetes, always wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. This helps emergency medical workers know you have diabetes.
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Who Should Have Glucagon Emergency Kits
Glucagon emergency kits are appropriate for anyone who have had previous episodes of severe hyperglycemia, as well as anyone with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes using multiple shots of insulin a day. If the patient is unaware that their blood glucose is low because they do not feel symptoms, an emergency glucagon kit would also be very helpful.
What Else Should I Do
- Always carry fast acting carbohydrates with you
- Wear identification that says you have diabetes
- Make a note of any hypos you have and discuss it with your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator
- Make sure your family, friends, co-workers, school staff and carers know how to recognise and treat hypoglycaemia
- Look for the cause of your hypo so you can try to prevent it from occurring again
- Contact your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator if you are having hypos often
- If youre taking medication called Acarbose carry pure glucose with you such as glucose tablets, glucose gel or Lucozade
- Eat carbohydrates if you are drinking alcohol
- Test your blood glucose level and ensure it is above 5mmol/L before driving a motor vehicle.
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Talk To Your Doctor Or Nurse
If you use insulin and your blood sugar is frequently or consistently low, ask your doctor or nurse if you:
- Are injecting your insulin the right way
- Need a different type of needle
- Should change how much insulin you take
- Should change the kind of insulin you take
DO NOT make any changes without talking to your doctor or nurse first.
Sometimes hypoglycemia can be due to taking the wrong medicines. Check your medicines with your pharmacist.
How Can I Treat Low Blood Sugar Quickly
If you feel symptoms of low blood sugar, test your levels with a blood glucose monitor as soon as possible. If your sugar levels are low , you can follow the 15-15-15 Rule:
Eat 15 g of a fast-acting carbohydrate . Common examples of 15 g include: a half cup of fruit juice, 6 to 8 hard candies, or 3 to 4 glucose tablets.
After 15 minutes, retest your sugar levels.
If they are still low, eat 15 g more.
If you are having a severe hypoglycemic attack or are unable to treat yourself, you may need a trained person to administer an emergency injection from your glucagon kit or a nasal spray of Baqsimi. If needed, you can eat 15 g of a fast-acting carbohydrate right after. If, after 15 minutes, you are still feeling confused or unconscious, have someone call 9-1-1.
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