Your Diabetes Devices And Hypoglycemia
Several insulin pumps are now available that make managing blood sugar levels easier, particularly when connected to a glucose meter or a CGM.
Some of the most important advantages of CGM devices are the improved insulin control and the ability to detect trends and lows early. With improved technology, it is now possible for parents to track blood sugar trends in their kids even when they are hundreds of miles apart .
In addition, automated insulin delivery systems, also known an artificial pancreas or a hybrid closed-loop system, will automatically adjust insulin to match your bodys need to help you spend more time in your target range.
Resources that provide people with T1D and their families with more detailed information about pumps and CGM devices are available through JDRF here. For people looking for a deeper understanding of technology that helps people with T1D better manage their blood sugar, JDRF resources are available here.
When To See A Doctor
Early warning signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
If you are experiencing these symptoms and suspect they could be related to your medications, reach out to your provider to see if an adjustment is needed. If you believe your symptoms are from poor food intake, try consuming complex carbohydrates more consistently to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Doing an intense workout on an empty stomach can produce hypoglycemia thats easy to fix. In this case, you can treat hypoglycemia at home with a sports drink or snack, and no further medical help is needed.
When left untreated, severe hypoglycemia can lead to intense symptoms, like jerky movements, inability to eat or drink, muscle weakness, slurred speech, blurry or double vision, seizures, or unconsciousness. For any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare professional immediately.
Since hypoglycemia can cause you to pass out, you should alert the people who you spend time with about your condition so they know what to do in an emergency. Let your coworkers, family, and friends know when they should call 911. You can also wear a medical alert bracelet that notifies others of your health concerns.
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Stages Of Low Blood Sugar
You will notice certain signs when your blood sugar begins to drop. These signs arise in stages, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Each stage is characterized by a specific set of symptoms.
Nausea is one of the signs that occur in the mild stage, but it can also be present in later stages. Many organizations like the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases combine the mild and moderate stages into one.
Other signs of mild to moderate low blood sugar include:
- Blurred vision
Signs of severe low blood sugar include:
- Unable to eat or drink
Symptoms of hypoglycemia during sleep include:
- Crying out or having nightmares
- Sweating enough to make your pajamas or sheets damp
- Feeling tired, irritable, or confused after waking up
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Symptoms Of High And Low Blood Sugar
Both doctors listed symptoms of high blood sugar as increased urination and thirst , fatigue, and unintentional weight loss. Dr. Adimoolam said women specifically could experience recurrent yeast infections. Symptoms of low blood sugar include headache, dizziness and shakiness, nausea, and slurred speech. The main differentiation between symptoms of low and high blood sugar is that you dont have this thirst and increased urination, Dr. Ahn explained.
People who have diabetes can develop what Dr. Adimoolam called hypoglycemia unawareness, where they show no symptoms of low blood sugar because theyre using insulin. Their body is so accustomed to living at low blood sugars that there are no symptoms until the sugar drops to a drastically low number, like less than 50 mg/dL sometimes, she said. The body thinks that that low blood sugar is normal and no longer releases counter-regulatory hormones to raise the blood sugar until the value drops. She emphasized that this rarely happens to those who do not have diabetes.
Can Low Blood Sugar Wake You Up At Night
What are the signs of hypoglycemia? An individual may frequently wake up in the middle of the night as a result of nighttime hypoglycemia. In other instances, though, people may know if they experienced hypoglycemia during their sleep if they notice the following symptoms: Waking up with a headache.
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What Are Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose level, is the level of sugar/glucose present in the blood. Glucose is a simple version of sugar which comes from the food we eat. Therefore, the more food you consume with high sugar levels over a period of time, will typically increase your blood sugar level.
Glucose comes from the foods we eat and its sugar content. When a person consumes a food with high sugar content, that is turned into glucose. The glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream with the support of insulin. This is then distributed between the bodys cells and used as energy.
Foods high in glucose include most carbohydrates and a handful of proteins and fats. Most foods contain glucose as it is simply a natural sugar that occurs in most dietary forms. However, it is carbohydrates that contain the most sugar and 100% of it turns into glucose, through the process mentioned above, once consumed. The concentration of glucose present in the blood will determine your blood sugar level.
Here is a quick video explaining Blood sugar levels chart :
Your blood sugar level can either be low, normal or high. Depending on what you eat and health conditions, it will vary from person to person. Here is a breakdown of how your blood sugar works and how low or high blood sugar levels happens:
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
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What Should I Do If I Experience A Hypoglycemia
Low blood sugar can be treated quickly with fast-acting glucose. If you are at risk for lows, you should always have something fast and sweet with you. Glucose tabs, for example, are available at any pharmacy, are relatively affordable, and are designed to digest quickly and raise blood glucose fast.
Other options are fruit juice, regular soda, candies , or other . It is important that whatever you use to treat the low does not contain a lot of fat or fiber, which slows digestion and takes longer to raise blood sugar.
The general guidelines are to eat 15-20 grams of glucose or simple carbohydrates then check your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. If you are still low, repeat.
If you experience low blood sugars often, talk to your doctor. Together, youâll be able to figure out why they are happening and then make adjustments, so they donât happen so often.
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How To Check Your Own Blood Sugar Level
One way to check ones own sugar level is by pricking a finger with a lancet and placing the blood that comes out onto a test strip, then inserting the strip into a glucose monitor. A meter can tell you what your levels are in about 5 seconds. Another option is by taking an oral glucose tolerance test , which takes longer but may also provide more accurate results. A persons individual level will depend on many factors including how old they are, their ethnicity, their weight and height, and the activity theyve performed recently. Blood sugar levels can be checked by pricking a finger to get a drop of blood and putting it on a glucose meter.
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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.
Causes Of Low Blood Sugar
There are many reasons why you may have low blood sugar, including:
- Taking too much insulin.
- Not eating enough carbs for how much insulin you take.
- Timing of when you take your insulin.
- The amount and timing of physical activity.
- Drinking alcohol.
- How much fat, protein, and fiber are in your meal.
- Hot and humid weather.
- Unexpected changes in your schedule.
- Spending time at a high altitude.
- Going through puberty.
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Target Blood Sugar Ranges For Pregnant People With Diabetes
Blood sugar targets during pregnancy are lower due to hormonal influences. The ADA, AACE, and Joslin Diabetes Center have slightly different guidelines for target blood sugar levels during pregnancy. In general, pregnant women with diabetes will want to follow individual guidelines provided by their endocrinologist.
The ADA recommends maintaining blood sugar levels of 95-140 mg/dL for pregnant women. However, some providers recommend an even tighter goal of blood glucose levels below 89 mg/dL before a meal and below 120 mg/dL after a meal.
To keep close tabs on levels, most diabetes specialists recommend that women with diabetes during pregnancy check their blood sugar:
- First thing in the morning
- Before all meals
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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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.
Factors That Can Affect Blood Sugar Levels
If you have prediabetes or diabetes, you may have insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. This means your body has difficulty regulating blood sugar levels on its own.
Its a delicate balance to maintain, so the following list can help you familiarize yourself with factors that can cause your blood glucose levels to go up or down.
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How Are Low Blood Sugar Levels Treated
Your diabetes health care team will give you guidelines for treating low blood sugar levels, depending on your symptoms. If you can, try to test your blood sugar levels to make sure that your symptoms are because of hypoglycemia. If you can’t test blood sugar immediately, don’t delay in treating your symptoms you can always check your blood sugar after you’ve taken steps to get your blood sugar back up into the normal range.
When blood sugar levels are low, the goal is to get them back up quickly. To do that, you should take in sugar or sugary foods, which raise the blood sugar level quickly. Your health care team might suggest that you:
- Eat, drink, or take something that contains sugar that can get into the blood quickly. Your doctor may tell you to have really sugary foods or drinks or might give you glucose tablets or gel to take all of these can help to raise your blood sugar level fast, which is what you need to do when it’s low.
- Wait about 10 minutes to let the sugar work.
- Recheck your blood sugar level with a glucose meter to see if blood sugar levels are back to normal.
- Get a glucagon shot , if your symptoms are severe or get worse after you eat, drink, or take glucose.
Sometimes, blood sugar levels can get so low that you may not be awake enough to eat or drink something to get them back up. When this happens, you may need a glucagon shot.
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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Why Do I Need To Know My Blood Sugar Numbers
Your blood sugar numbers show how well your diabetes is managed. And managing your diabetes means that you have less chance of having serious health problems, such as kidney disease and vision loss.
As you check your blood sugar, you can see what makes your numbers go up and down. For example, you may see that when you are stressed or eat certain foods, your numbers go up. And, you may see that when you take your medicine and are active, your numbers go down. This information lets you know what is working for you and what needs to change.
Tips To Prevent Blood Sugar From Dropping At Night
Sulay Shah, M.D. contributes to topics such as Diabetes.
Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar or low blood glucose, occurs when blood glucose levels drop below normalwhich is typically below a level of 70 milligrams per deciliter . With levels more commonly dipping at nighttime, otherwise referred to as nighttime hypoglycemia, this condition affects mostly patients with diabetes.
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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 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup soft drink
- 1 tablespoon honey
Fifteen minutes after you’ve 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.
How Do I Check My Blood Sugar
You use a blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar. This device uses a small drop of blood from your finger to measure your blood sugar level. You can get the meter and supplies in a drug store or by mail.
Read the directions that come with your meter to learn how to check your blood sugar. Your health care team also can show you how to use your meter. Write the date, time, and result of the test in your blood sugar record. Take your blood sugar record and meter to each visit and talk about your results with your health care team.
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Symptoms Of High Or Low Blood Sugar
When the person has low blood sugar, they may experience hypoglycemia which can be characterized by-
- Dry mouth
People with type 2 diabetes may experience symptoms of high or low blood sugar. The levels can be checked by pricking a finger to get a drop of blood and putting it on a glucose meter.