All You Need To Know about Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia): Low blood sugar, commonly known as hypoglycemia, happens when your blood sugar (glucose) dips below a healthy range. If your blood sugar dips too low, it can be a hazardous illness that needs quick care.
Your blood glucose is considered as low when it falls below 70 mg/dL.
Hypoglycemia is more prevalent among patients with diabetes. Taking too much medicine (particularly sulfonylureas or insulin), missing meals, not feeding enough, or exercising more than normal might lead to a decreased sugar if you have diabetes.
In rare situations, hypoglycemia may be a result of other diseases or some types of medicines.
This article will take a closer look at hypoglycemia, as well as the diagnosis, management and how to avoid your blood sugar from dipping too low.
If your blood sugar level is dangerously low, what are the symptoms and signs?
When an individual is fasting, the usual range of glucose in the bloodstream is between 70 and 100 mg/dL. (that is not immediately after a meal). When blood sugar levels are in the high/mid 70s, the body’s biochemical response to hypoglycemia is normally initiated. The liver begins to release its stores at this time, and the hormones described above begin to work their magic. Many people go through this process without experiencing any clinical symptoms. Additionally, the amount of insulin generated decreases as a result of an attempt to prevent a further drop in glucose levels.
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While there is some individual variation, when blood glucose levels are less than 50 mg/dL, the majority of people will experience symptoms suggestive of low blood sugar, according to the American Diabetes Association. Due to the fact that they relate to the nerve system’s response to hypoglycemia, the first set of symptoms is referred to as adrenergic (or sympathetic).
Individuals suffering from hypoglycemia may exhibit any of the following symptoms and signs:
- Hunger that is intense
- Symptoms of vertigo or lightheadedness
- Concentration difficulties
- Modifications to one’s behavior or personality
These signs and symptoms are easily distinguishable in the majority of persons. The vast majority of diabetics only encounter this level of hypoglycemia if they are taking drugs or using insulin to control their blood sugar. People with high circulating insulin levels (whether they have diabetes or insulin resistance) who fast or change their eating habits to dramatically reduce their carbohydrate consumption should also be cautious. Individuals with this condition may also develop mild hypoglycemia.
Persons who are being treated for diabetes and who develop the condition may not exhibit the same symptoms as people who do not have diabetes. This condition has been labeled as hypoglycemia unawareness by researchers. Having low blood sugar levels for an extended period of time before experiencing symptoms can be harmful.
Anyone who has suffered an attack of hypoglycemia can attest to a strong sense of urgency to eat in order to alleviate the symptoms. And that is precisely what these symptoms are intended to accomplish. They serve as alerts to the body, telling it to increase its fuel consumption. At this level, the brain is still able to receive glucose from the bloodstream for energy. The symptoms give a person the time to raise their blood sugar levels before the brain is damaged by the effects of the diabetes.
If a person does not or is unable to respond by eating food that will raise blood glucose levels, the levels of glucose in the bloodstream continue to drop until the person responds. The patients’ blood glucose levels continue to decline, and they eventually reach neuro-glyco-penic levels (meaning that the brain is not getting enough glucose). As a result of this, symptoms such as confusion, drowsiness, and behavioral abnormalities lead to coma and seizure.
What is the prevalence of low blood glucose?
The condition of having low blood glucose is common in patients with type 1 diabetes, as well as in those with type 2 diabetes who take insulin or other diabetic medications. In a large global study of persons with diabetes who use insulin, four out of every five people with type 1 diabetes and nearly half of those with type 2 diabetes described experiencing a low blood sugar incident at least once over a four-week period, according to the findings.
Serious low blood sugar, described as when your blood sugar level level lowers to a point where you are unable to address it yourself, is a rare occurrence. Every year, 2 out of every 100 diabetic adults in the United States who take insulin or certain diabetes medications that help the pancreas release insulin into the blood may experience very low blood glucose levels.
Hypoglycemia and Diet
Low blood sugar can occur if you take too much insulin in regards to the quantity of carbohydrates you consume or drink.
For instance, the following may occur:
- Following a meal high in simple sugars
- If you skip a snack or do not consume an entire meal
- If you consume food later than usual
- If you consume alcohol in the absence of meals
Avoid skipping meals if you have diabetes, even more so if you are on diabetes medication.
Who is at greater risk of developing low blood glucose levels?
If you have any of the following, you are more prone to get low blood sugar:
- Type 1 diabetes
- use insulin or one of the other diabetic medications
- are over the age of 65
- had low blood glucose levels in the past
- have additional health issues, such as kidney disease, heart disease, or cognitive dysfunction
If you have diabetes, you can decrease your risk of developing hypoglycemia if you:
- Regularly check your blood sugar level and be aware of the symptoms of hypoglycemia so you can treat it swiftly.
- Carry a sugary food or beverage with you at all times, such as glucose tablets, a carton of fruit juice, or some candy. If you have a glucagon injection kit, keep it on you at all times.
- Avoid skipping meals.
- Consume alcohol with caution.
- Consume little amounts of liquid,
- monitor your blood sugar often, and follow up with a carbohydrate snack.
- Exercise with caution; consuming a carbohydrate snack prior to exercise can help lessen the risk of hypoglycemia.
If you use certain types of diabetes medication, your doctor may advise you to take a reduced dose prior to or following vigorous exercise.
If your blood glucose drops too low while you sleep (nocturnal hypoglycaemia), have a starch snack, such as toast.
How to treat hypoglycemia(Low Blood Sugar)
Maintaining optimal blood sugar control can delay or prevent long-term, significant health consequences. While this is critical, closely monitoring your blood sugar levels also raises your risk of hypoglycemia (hypoglycemia). Low blood sugar is defined as less than 70 mg/dL. Check your blood sugar if you believe you have low blood sugar. If you are unable to check it, treat it.
Low blood sugar left untreated can be deadly, therefore it’s critical to know what to do and to treat it immediately.
The Rule of 15-15
If your blood sugar is between 55 and 69 mg/dL, boost it using the 15-15 rule: consume 15 grams of carbs and check your blood sugar 15 minutes later. If it remains inside your goal range, continue with another serving. Rep these processes till it reaches the desired range. Once it is within range, consume a nutritious meal or snack to prevent it from falling too low again.
The Rule of 15-15
If your blood sugar level is between 55 and 69 mg/dL, you can cure it by following the 15-15 rule: consume 15 grams of carbs. After 15 minutes, recheck it. Rep if you remain outside your target range.
These things contain around 15 grams of carbohydrates:
- 4 oounces (½ oz) juice or normal soda
- 1 teaspoon sugar, honey, or maple syrup
- Candies such as hard candies, jellybeans, or gumdrops (see food label for how much to eat).
- three to four glucose pills (follow instructions).
1 gram glucose gel (usually 1 tube; follow instructions).
Keep the following points in mind:
- After eating, it takes a bit of time for blood sugar levels to rise. Allow time for the treatment to take effect. Following the 15-15 rule is beneficial.
- Young children, particularly newborns and toddlers, typically require less than 15 grams of carbohydrates.Consult your physician to determine how much your child requires.
- You should avoid carbs high in fiber, such as beans or lentils, as well as carbs high in fat, such as chocolate. Fiber and fat both lower the rate at which sugar is absorbed.
- Check your blood sugar frequently at times when lows are more prevalent, such as hot weather or travel.
Treating Severe Hypoglycemia(Low Blood Sugar)
A blood sugar level of less than 55 mg/dL is regarded dangerously low. You will be unable to apply the 15-15 rule to it. Additionally, depending on your symptoms, you may be unable to check or treat your blood sugar on your own. Assure that your family members, friends, and caregivers are aware of the symptoms of low blood sugar so they can assist you in treating it if necessary.
Injectable glucagon is the most effective treatment for severe hypoglycemia. A prescription is required to obtain a glucagon kit. Consult your physician to determine whether you should have a kit. Ensure that you understand how and when to use it. Notify family members and others in your immediate vicinity of the location of your glucagon kit and ensure they are informed on how to use it as well.
It is critical to contact a doctor immediately following a glucagon injection for emergency medical assistance. If a person loses consciousness (passes out) as a result of severe hypoglycemia, they usually regain consciousness within 15 minutes of receiving a glucagon injection. If they do not regain consciousness after 15 minutes of the injection, they should be given another dose. When the individual is awake and capable of swallowing:
- Provide the individual with a quick-acting source of sugar (regular soft drink or fruit juice).
- Then, have them consume a slow-acting sugar source (crackers and cheese or a sandwich with meat).
Additionally, it is critical that friends, family, coworkers, instructors, coaches, and other people with whom you interact frequently understand how to monitor your blood sugar and manage severe hypoglycemia before it occurs.