How To Help Others Help You
Knowing the signs of low blood sugar, having an action plan, and being prepared with your glucose meter and glucose tablets are vital, but sometimes you might need to rely on other people to help when youre blood sugar drops too low. Take these additional steps so youre prepared and they are, too:
Teach your loved ones.;If youre unable to help yourself, friends, family, or colleagues may need to treat you with an injection of glucagon, a hormone that tells your liver to release stored glucose, the American Diabetes Association says. For this reason, its a good idea to teach those close to you what to do. If they dont know how to give you the injection or if glucagon isnt available, they must call 911 and get you the help you need, Evans says. Low blood sugar thats sustained for a prolonged time can lead to irreversible brain damage, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Wear an ID bracelet.;Evan suggests that everyone with;diabetes;should get a tattoo or wear a medical ID bracelet. The bracelet should say diabetes and whether youre on;insulin;or take other medications, the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston recommends.
Talk to your doctor about your low blood sugar risk.;If you have frequent bouts of hypoglycemia, be sure to talk with your doctor. The solution may be as simple as changing how much or the kind of diabetes medicine you take. However,;never make any changes to your medication regimen;without your doctors approval.
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.
Treating Mild To Moderate Hypoglycemia
If you start feeling any of the symptoms listed above, check your blood sugar as soon as possible, then follow the chart below to treat low blood sugar. If you have any concerns, or cant test immediately, its best to treat first and check when possible.
If your blood sugar is ;
What to do next
51 to 70 mg/dL
10 to 15 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as 4 ounces of fruit juice, 6 to 8 hard candies, or 3 to 4 glucose tablets.
Test your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. Repeat the treatment if necessary.
Under 50 mg/dL
Eat 20 to 30 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as 8 ounces of fruit juice, 12 to 16 hard candies, or 6 to 8 glucose tablets.
Test your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. Repeat the treatment if necessary.
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What To Do When Your Blood Sugar Levels Drop Too Low
People who use insulin and other diabetes medications are at risk for hypoglycemia. Keep this action plan handy so you’re prepared.
If you take insulin or diabetes medication, you may be at risk of developing hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Without quick attention, hypoglycemia can lead to serious complications, so its important to know what to do if it happens to you or someone close to you.
In very severe cases, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures or loss of consciousness, says;;a clinical assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, gerontology, and metabolism at Stanford Health Care, and chief of the Stanford Endocrine Clinic.
It’s possible to have hypoglycemia but have no symptoms, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . On the other hand, symptoms can also come on rapidly. While symptoms vary from person to person, if you develop mild to moderate low;blood sugar;you may:
- Feel shaky or jittery
- Have a headache or be lightheaded
- Turn pale
- Be irritable or combative
- Have blurred vision or see double
Some people feel tingling or numbness in their extremities too, says Rodolfo Galindo, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, metabolism, and lipids at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and chair of the inpatient diabetes taskforce.
How To Prevent Nocturnal Hypoglycemia
Start by talking to your doctor about a bedtime blood sugar target. Ask about your risk for hypoglycemia and if you should get a glucagon kit. Dont miss dinner, exercise before bedtime, or drink alcohol at night. Have a sugar and protein snack before bedtime, like a wheat cracker with cheese.
If you have had symptoms of nocturnal hypoglycemia, work with your doctor on a prevention plan. This may include switching to a longer acting insulin that does not peak during sleep, or changing your insulin dose. You might be asked to set an alarm and check your blood sugar in the early morning for a while. ;For people at high risk for nocturnal hypoglycemia, a continuous glucose monitor may be the best solution. A CGM can check your blood sugar every 5 minutes and can set off an alarm if your sugar gets too high or too low.
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How Can I Stop My Blood Sugar From Crashing
;Here are a few ways to avoid hypoglycemic episodes:
- Get in the habit of self-monitoring your blood glucose. Keeping track of when your blood sugar drops can help you recognize aspects of your routine that may be contributing to your hypoglycemia. Dr. Klonoff recommends a continuous glucose monitor. Its the best tool for automatically checking your blood glucose levels around the clock, he says.
- Change your meal plan. When, what, how much, and how often you eat all play a big part in your blood glucose levels. A dietitian can teach you about healthy, well-balanced food choices that will make it easier for you to maintain an acceptable blood sugar range.
- Keep a stash of glucose tablets on hand. With your doctor’s recommendation, make sure you always have glucose tablets with you. You can stick them in your briefcase, purse, car, desk, school locker, etc. You may also want to keep snacks nearbyfor example, cheese or peanut butter crackers, although doctors suggest over-the-counter glucose tablets for more accurate dosage. Do not eat a healthy sugar-free candy bar during hypoglycemia, warns Dr. Klonoff. Its lack of sugar means that it will not raise your blood glucose level sufficiently when you want it to.
- Certain drinks can help get your blood sugar up as well. Try 8 oz. of fruit juice, a soft drink , or a cup of milk.
Low Blood Glucose During Sleep
Your blood glucose level can drop while you sleep and stay low for several hours, causing serious problems.7 Symptoms of low blood glucose while you sleep can include
- crying out or having nightmares
- sweating enough to make your pajamas or sheets damp
- feeling tired, irritable, or confused after waking up
Although you may not wake up or notice any symptoms, low blood glucose can interfere with your sleep, which may affect your quality of life, mood, and ability to work. Having low blood glucose during sleep can also make you less likely to notice and respond to symptoms of low blood glucose during the day.
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What Extreme Conditions Can Occur If Hypoglycemia Is Left Untreated
Although severe episodes which can trigger potentially life-threatening comas are rare, they require immediate emergency room care, so its best to make sure you are tracking your blood sugar so that you never have to worry about getting to that point. A drop in blood sugar means less fuel for your brain, so its critical for your body to receive enough glucose. Hypoglycemia that leads to extended, reduced brain function is the biggest concern, as this can lead to seizures and loss of basic bodily functions controlled by the brain, which can ultimately lead to death, explains Dr. Dyer.
What Is Low Blood Sugar And Why Is It Scary
Low blood sugar can feel different for different people, both when it comes to when we feel low and how the symptoms manifest.
In a non-diabetic body, blood sugar levels rarely dip below 70 mg/dL, but if you manage your diabetes with insulin and if too much insulin is present in the body, blood sugars start to drop below normal levels.
Without enough glucose in your bloodstream, your brain and entire body will struggle to function and most people will start feeling the symptoms of low blood sugar.
If not treated with glucose, blood sugar can continue to drop, which can lead to a severe low blood sugar. A severe low blood sugar is defined as a situation where your blood sugar is so low that you need help from someone else to get your blood sugar back into a safe range.
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.
Does Everyone Have Symptoms From Hypoglycemia
Some people dont have symptoms or dont notice them. Healthcare providers call that situation hypoglycemia unawareness. People with such a challenge arent aware when they need to do something about their blood sugar. Theyre then more likely to have severe episodes and need medical help. People with hypoglycemia unawareness should check their blood sugar more often.
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What Can Happen When We Dont Prepare For A Low Blood Sugar
The week after, Paloma and her friend were on the road again. This time she didnt bring Gvoke and as she was trending low during the trip, she ate all of her low snacks before they arrived at their hotel.
That night, she woke up and checked her CGM to find that her blood sugar had dropped to 40 mg/dL , and thats when her low symptoms intensified, and she started feeling poorly. But she was out of snacks and didnt have her glucagon with her, so there was no way of treating the low.
Her friend ran to the vending machine in the hallway, but it was malfunctioning. As time was ticking, her friend ended up punching through the glass of the machine to get to the snacks.
At this point, they were both panicking and once her friend returned with the snacks, Paloma ate as much as she could. This experience left them both emotionally drained and she had to fight resistant high blood sugars throughout the following day.
What Should I Do If My Blood Sugar Is Low Right Before A Meal
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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.
Prevention Of Low Blood Sugar
Do not skip or delay meals. If your diet plan includes snacks, make sure to take these.
Measure insulin dosage carefully and inject it properly. If you cannot see well, a family member or a visiting nurse can prepare your insulin injections for you.
Take only the prescribed amount of insulin or oral medication for diabetes that your doctor has ordered.
Keep exercise consistent from day to day. Eat a snack or reduce your insulin prior to unusual exercise.
If you are taking insulin, notify your doctor if you have low blood sugars four or more times per week or if you have a severe low blood sugar. Severe low blood sugars are those less than 40 mg., those requiring help from another person, or those which cause you to have a convulsion or become unconscious.
If you are taking oral medication for your diabetes notify your doctor or nurse if blood sugars are running less than 80 mg. or if you have a severe low blood sugar.
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Causes Not Related To Diabetes
According to the Endocrine Society, non-diabetes-related hypoglycemia is rare but can occur. There are two types:
- fasting hypoglycemia, often associated with an underlying condition
- reactive hypoglycemia, which occurs within a few hours of a meal
Causes of fasting hypoglycemia may include:
- binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption
- liver, heart, or kidney disease
- tumors that affect the pancreas
- low hormone levels
- certain medications, such as salicylates or sulfa
Causes of reactive hypoglycemia include:
- a person with prediabetes
- enzyme deficiency
- stomach surgery
Doctors are still not clear about what exactly causes reactive hypoglycemia. However, they know people with this condition tend to have excessive insulin in their blood.
Nighttime Low Blood Sugars
You may experience a low blood sugar night. The low blood sugar might wake you up and your symptoms might be similar to those you have during the day. However, the symptoms may be different. You might have nightmares, sleep poorly, perspire, or feel hot and cold. In the morning you may have a headache, feel nauseated, or feel confused. Notify your doctor if this happens. Check your blood sugar at the time you have the symptoms.
Treatment for a low blood sugar that occurs at night is the same as described earlier.
Your doctor may request that you check a 3:00 a.m. blood sugar 1 to 2 times per week in order to detect any low blood sugars during the night.
Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.
Signs Of High Blood Sugar
Someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes will be familiar with how it feels to have hyperglycemia. But for the millions of people who have diabetes or prediabetes and are unaware of it, knowing the signs of high blood sugar could prompt them to seek care and get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
While type 1 diabetes symptoms can come on suddenly and severely, its important to note that type 2 diabetes symptoms can creep up gradually and be so mild that theyre not noticeable, the NIDDK explains. And most people with prediabetes actually have no symptoms, per the NIDDK. So its extremely important to get screened if you have risk factors, like having a family history, being overweight, or being over age 45, the NIDDK says.
Still, there are many potential signs of high blood sugar in the short and long term that it doesnt hurt to be conscious of, especially if you are at elevated risk.
Early on, hyperglycemia can make you feel off in a variety of ways:
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.
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A Few Final Notes On Keeping Blood Sugar Stable
Taking an active, intentional approach to your blood sugar levels is crucial to your quality of life and overall health, ONeill says. Avoiding too-high or too-low blood sugar levels will help you avoid adverse symptoms and health complications, and staying within your target range can enable you to feel your best and do whatever you want to do in life, she says.
Test your blood sugar regularly, listen to your body, and dont ever hesitate to reach out to your doctor.
Additional reporting by Karen Appold.