What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar
The symptoms of high blood sugar can vary depending on severity.
Early signs and symptoms of high blood sugar
When your blood sugar is around 200 mg/dL, but not yet dangerously high, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Shortness of breath
If you are experiencing any of the later-stage symptoms of high blood sugar, seek immediate medical attention.
What Symptoms Do Hypos Cause
If your blood sugar drops below about 4 mmol/L, you may experience:
- Feeling weak or tired and hungry.
- Feeling shaky and sweaty, with cold, clammy skin.
- Irritability and poor concentration.
If your blood sugar continues to drop, you may develop:
- Confusion and drowsiness.
- Collapse and loss of consciousness.
In very severe cases, hypoglycaemia can be fatal.
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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Your Hypoglycemia Action Plan
If you experience symptoms of hypoglycemia, its important to take action. Start with these steps:
Test your blood sugar. If you recognize any of these symptoms and believe your blood sugar may be too low, the first step you should take is to test your blood sugar with your glucose meter, Tan says. Anything less than 70 milligrams per deciliter is considered low blood sugar, according to the National Library of Medicine . However, target levels are often individualized, so talk with your healthcare provider about your optimal numbers, Tan adds.
Eat or drink fast-acting carbs. If you have low blood sugar, you need to take action right away. Your best bet is to consume about 15 grams of carbohydrates, the NLM says. Some options include:
- ½ cup or 4 ounces of orange juice
- ½ cup or 4 ounces of regular soda
- 1 tablespoon of sugar dissolved in water
- 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup
- 5 or 6 hard candies, jelly beans, or gumdrops
- 1 tablespoon of cake frosting
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- ½ cup of applesauce
You can also take three to four glucose tablets or a tube of glucose gel. Everyone who takes medications for diabetes should always have glucose tablets with them, Galindo urges.
Wait, then retest. The next step is to wait 15 minutes, then test your blood sugar again. If blood sugar has reached 100 mg/dl or greater, youre fine. If not…
Act Quickly To Treat The Situation
If you suspect you have low blood sugar, Dr. Fruge recommends quickly treating the situation, which she says should include “eating healthy foods such as complex carbohydrates, beans or fruit.”
“At the Pritikin Longevity Center we serve a cup of fruit with a cup of veggies to prevent a spike in insulin, which can sometimes lead to a later drop in blood sugar again,” she explains. “Adjusting your diabetes medication as prescribed by your physician may also be necessary. It’s important to retest your blood sugar 20 minutes after eating to confirm it has improved.”
Keep a fast-acting carbohydrate snack or two on hand in case your blood sugar dips below healthy levels.
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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.
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.
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What To Eat When You Have Low Blood Sugar Levels
It is vital to know that low blood sugar in non-diabetics can be fatal if it is not diagnosed and treated in time. For recurrent bouts of hypoglycemia, you might need to get tested by your primary care physician for an underlying cause such as a tumor or enzyme deficiency.
Treatment of hypoglycemia varies from person to person, as well as the numbers. A blood glucose level between 70 80 mg/dl can be treated with immediate glucose sources such as glucose tablets or juices. Your primary care physician might advise you to alter your diet and lifestyle.
- One hallmark of treating low blood sugar is a combination of peanut butter and crackers.
- Crackers are an immediate resource of blood sugar that can help you manage your low blood glucose levels almost instantaneously.
- The peanut butter will help to tone down your cravings as well as provide you with essential fatty acids and proteins for maintaining that blood sugar level.
- To prevent low blood glucose levels, keep a jar of unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter handy.
As mentioned above, a blood glucose level between the ranges of 55 to 69 mg/dl is considered significantly low, but not low enough for you to pass out. One rule of thumb is to stock your pantry with fresh fruits and dried nuts for instant rejuvenation.
Understanding Blood Sugar Levels
If you are one of 110 million Americans living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, you have probably had at least one conversation with your doctor about lowering your blood sugar levels.
It is, after all, sustained high blood sugar that often leads to diabetes, and it is lowering blood sugar levels which can turn back the clock and lead to remission.
But all this talk of lowering blood sugar begs the question: can your blood sugar levels get too low?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is yes! And low blood sugar can, in fact, be far more dangerous than high blood sugar.
The technical term for low blood sugar is hypoglycemia, which typically occurs when blood sugar levels drop below 70 milligrams per deciliter .
While the only clinical way to know if your blood sugar is too low is to test it, there are also some early warning signs that can also signal to you that it’s time for a sugary snack.
If you do begin to feel any of these symptoms, or you test your blood sugar levels and find them to be under 70ml/dl , it is important to act quickly. If hypoglycemia is left untreated it can cause seizures, a coma, and even death.
We will get into the symptoms in a minute, but first lets discuss the causes.
The three main things which can affect blood sugar are:
Any medication which increases insulin or lowers blood sugar can cause hypoglycemia. Here are a few common ones to be aware of:
Typical actions that can lead to an episode of hypoglycemia include:
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When Blood Sugar Is Too Low
Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it’s also formed and stored inside the body. It’s the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. Our brains depend on glucose to function, even when we’re sleeping.
The is the amount of glucose in the blood. When these levels drop too low, it’s called hypoglycemia . Very low blood sugar levels can cause serious symptoms that need to be treated right away.
Check Blood Sugar Regularly
People who regularly check their blood sugar tend to have better-controlled blood sugar overall. Checking blood sugar levels at home helps people become aware of their blood sugar trends. It can also help people identify how their lifestyle habits affect their blood sugar and make adjustments to achieve better blood sugar control.
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Exercise Food And Alcohol
For people with type 1 diabetes, maintaining the correct blood glucose level involves balancing how much insulin you inject, the amount of food you eat, and how much energy you burn during exercise.
Hypoglycaemia may occur if you’ve taken your dose of insulin as usual, but your carbohydrate intake is lower than normal or has been used up more quickly. This may happen if you delay or miss a meal or snack, don’t eat enough carbohydrate, or exercise more than usual.
People with diabetes who’ve drunk too much alcohol, or drank alcohol on an empty stomach, can also get hypoglycaemia.
However, it’s not always possible to identify why a particular episode of hypoglycaemia has occurred, and sometimes it happens for no obvious reason.
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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The Effects Of Low Blood Sugar On Your Body
Every cell in your body needs energy to function. The main source of energy might come as a surprise: Its sugar, also known as glucose. Blood sugar is essential to proper brain, heart, and digestive function. It even helps keep your skin and vision healthy.
When your blood sugar levels fall below the normal range, its called hypoglycemia. There are many identifiable symptoms of low blood sugar, but the only way to know if you have low blood sugar is by taking a blood glucose test.
Learn more about the symptoms of low blood sugar, as well as the long-term effects on the body.
most common reasons for low blood sugar are some medications used to treat diabetes, such as insulin.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesnt make enough insulin, or your body cant use it properly. Too much insulin or oral diabetic medication can lower the blood sugar level, leading to hypoglycemia.
However, contrary to popular belief, low blood sugar isnt exclusive to diabetes, though it is rare. It can also happen if your body makes more insulin than it should.
Another possible cause of low blood sugar is drinking too much alcohol, especially over long periods of time. This can interfere with the livers ability to create a buildup of glucose and then release it into your bloodstream when you need it.
Other causes include:
Be Consistent With Your Meal
A well-balanced diet is necessary for diabetics. To prevent hypoglycemia, eat a minimum of three proper meals comprising whole-grain cereals such as quinoa and oats, fruits such as apples, bananas or berries, and dried nuts.
Snack occasionally, but wisely. Reduce your portion size and limit high-sugary beverages or sources of refined sugar. Lastly, try not to skip or delay your meals. At times, your primary care physician might advise a low-carb and high protein diet to prevent any surges in glucose. However, this might predispose to hypoglycemia.
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What You Should Know About Low Blood Sugar
If youre worried about Low Blood Sugar, there are some things that you should know. This article is meant to help you deal with this condition. If youre diabetic, you need to watch your sugar levels carefully. A small amount of glucose can cause dangerous consequences. This can lead to serious complications, like death. You should be aware of the warning signs of hypoglycemia. To help you identify the symptoms, you should learn more about the disease and how to manage it.
Acute hypoglycemic condition that can lead to neuro-glyco-penic levels occurs when the brain is not getting enough glucose. The symptoms of this condition include confusion, drowsiness, changes in behavior, and seizures. In severe cases, a patient may even go into a coma or have a seizure. In this case, a glucose injection is required. There is no treatment available for low blood sugar, but it is important to know what you can do to help yourself.
Before your appointment, make sure you are fasting for at least eight hours. Also, remember to write down all your important information and any medications that youre taking. A diary can also help you determine which changes in your body indicate a low blood sugar level. Keeping a diary of your glucose readings will help you learn the signs and prevent hyperglycemia. This way, youll be able to take action when it strikes you.
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.
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Other Causes Of Low Blood Sugar
While low blood sugar is often associated with diabetes, it can also be affected by other factors. According to Dr. Danine Fruge, Medical Director of the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida, the causes of blood sugar problems can include not only “diabetes, prediabetes , reactive hypoglycemia or other health issues, but also by not eating enough, taking too much insulin or even taking certain diabetes medications.”
Other medications can also cause hypoglycemia, like quinine, or Qualaquin, which is used to treat malaria, or various medications for kidney failure. Exercising more than usual can also cause it, especially while taking such medications.
Some other potential causes for low blood sugar include:
- Heavy drinking without eating
- Eating without ingesting enough carbohydrates
- Eating fewer carbs than usual without reducing insulin amounts, or improper balancing of liquid/solid carbs and timing of insulin
- Hormone deficiencies due to adrenal or pituitary tumor disorders, or in children without sufficient growth hormone
- Long-term starvation, such as that which can occur with anorexia nervosa
- Serious illness like hepatitis, kidney disorders and liver disease
- Pancreatic tumors that make the body secrete too much insulin
What Is Hypoglycemia And Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia is the state of having a blood glucose level that is too low to effectively fuel the body’s cells.
Glucose, which comes from carbohydrates found in foods, is a main source of energy for all of the cells of the body and, especially, the brain. While the body is quite good at extracting glucose from the foods we eat, it relies on a hormone called insulin to actually get the glucose inside the cells of specific organs: the liver, fat, and muscle.
We can think of insulin as holding the key to a cell without insulin, the glucose just remains in the blood, where its also known as blood sugar. During an episode of hypoglycemia, theres not enough glucose in the blood. The normal range is approximately 70 to 150 mg/dl .
Hypoglycemia is most common in newborns. In older children, its most often seen as a complication of insulin therapy for diabetes but can sometimes have other causes as well.
In the majority of cases, hypoglycemia is temporary, easily treated, and usually does not have serious consequences. There are several rare disorders in which hypoglycemia is recurrent and potentially life-threatening. However, with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, these can be effectively managed.
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Whats The Link Between Diabetes And Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is most common, by far, in people with diabetes. Treatment for the diseaseoften involves taking medication to increase insulin. Hypoglycemia can develop if things like food, exercise and diabetes medications are out of balance.
Common pitfalls for people with diabetes include:
- Being more active than usual.
- Drinking alcohol without eating.
- Eating late or skipping meals.
- Not balancing meals by including fat, protein and fiber.
- Not eating enough carbohydrates.
- Not timing insulin and carb intake correctly .
Also, if someone with diabetes uses the wrong insulin, takes too much or injects it incorrectly, that can cause hypoglycemia.
Questions Caregivers Should Ask
As a family member, friend, or caregiver, you want to do your best to keep your loved one, friend, or patient safe from severe hypoglycemia. But knowing whats best can be overwhelming. Here are some questions to help you get started.
- What are my loved ones/friends/patients chances for severe hypoglycemia?
- How often should my loved one/friend/patient check their blood glucose?
- What should I do if there is no change after giving the glucagon?
- What would be the best food or drink to give my loved one/friend/patient once they wake up?
- Should I talk with a diabetes educator?
- How can I help treat their hypoglycemia?
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THESE RESOURCES WERE MADE FROM THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF LILLY DIABETES AND XERIS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.
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