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How Low Can Blood Sugar Go Before You Die


Avoiding High Blood Sugar And Dka

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No matter how well they take care of themselves, people with diabetes will sometimes have high blood sugar levels. But the best way to avoid problems is to keep your blood sugar levels as close to your desired range as possible, which means following your diabetes management plan. Checking your blood sugar levels several times a day will let you know when your blood sugar level is high. Then you can treat it and help prevent DKA from happening.

High blood sugar levels don’t always cause symptoms, and a person who isn’t testing regularly might be having blood sugar levels high enough to damage the body without even realizing it. Doctors may use the HbA1c test to find out if someone has been having high blood sugar levels over time, even if the person has not had obvious symptoms.

Here are some other tips for avoiding high blood sugar levels and preventing DKA:

  • Try to eat all your meals and snacks on time and not skip any.
  • Take the right amount of insulin.
  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly and your ketone levels when your diabetes management plan recommends it.
  • Stick to your diabetes management plan.

What Complications Can Hypoglycemia Cause

Passing out from low blood sugar because you have not recognized the early signs and symptoms is called hypoglycemia unawareness, and can be quite dangerous depending on where you are, explains Dr. Klonoff. As doctors are required to report such incidents to the Department of Motor Vehicles, it can also mean a suspended drivers license.


If this is something youre worried about, Wearing a continuous glucose monitor with an alarm for hypoglycemia can alert a person who is prone to developing low blood sugar levels that their blood glucose concentration is becoming dangerously low, so appropriate preventive action can be taken before they lose consciousness, explains Dr. Klonoff.

Blood Pressure Before Death

When a patient is approaching death, the body will begin to shut down as the end nears. Because the heart is unable to pump normally, blood pressure lowers and blood is unable to circulate properly throughout the body. While it is never easy to watch a loved one slip away, this is all part of the natural dying process.

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Diabetes And Blood Sugar: Knowing When To Go To The Hospital

Keeping your blood sugar levels under control can be tough. There are so many factors that can affect blood sugar, like exercise, food, illness, exhaustion, and stress. Any of these can cause your careful control to go right out the window. So how do you know if your loss of control is an emergency?

HYPOGLYCEMIA

Hypoglycemia is the condition of having too little glucose in the blood, usually below 70 mg/dl. It can result from taking too much insulin, not eating, illness or exercise. Hypoglycemia sometimes called insulin shock or insulin reaction can cause serious physical and mental changes.


Symptoms and Risks

Physical changes include shakiness, sweating, chills and feeling clammy, increased heart rate, dizziness, blurred vision, headache, weakness or excessive fatigue, tingling and numbness in the lips or tongue, lack of coordination, nausea and, in worst cases, seizures and unconsciousness.

Mental changes include confusion and delirium, anger, stubbornness, and sadness. On occasion, someone who is suffering an episode of hypoglycemia might be mistaken for being extremely drunk.

All of the symptoms above are preliminary to passing out and/or entering a coma state if left untreated.

What To Do

After 15 minutes, the patient should re-check his or her blood sugar to be certain it has come up to at least 70 mg/dl. If it hasnt, repeat the previous action.

HYPERGLYCEMIA

Symptoms

What To Do

How Long Will The Effects Last

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The effects of low blood sugar will continue and may even get worse until treatment brings your blood sugar level back to normal. It may take several minutes for the symptoms to go away after you start treatment. This may be a temporary problem while you and your healthcare provider are adjusting your medicine. If you are always prone to having low blood sugar, you may need to take special care for the rest of your life to keep your blood sugar at the proper level.


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The Dangers Of Low Blood Glucose

At some time, most people with diabetes experience the sweating and shakiness that occurs when blood glucose levels fall below 70 mg/dl a condition known as hypoglycemia. The average person with type 1 diabetes may experience symptoms of low blood glucose up to two times a week. However, not all are aware that these symptoms can rapidly progress to seizures, coma and even death if hypoglycemia is severe. Though hypoglycemia can be common and occur repeatedly in some people with diabetes, symptoms of low blood glucose should always be taken seriously. People with diabetes and their families, friends or coworkers should be prepared to act quickly and responsibly at the earliest signs of low blood glucose.

What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Coma

The following symptoms are your bodys warning signs that your blood sugar is too high or too low.

Whenever you have these symptoms, check your blood sugar. If it is too high or too low, treat it according to your healthcare providers instructions to prevent a diabetic coma. If you have had diabetes for a long time, you may fall into a coma without showing any of the symptoms.

Some symptoms of hyperglycemia are:


  • Tiredness.
  • Taking too much insulin.

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What Are The Causes Of Diabetic Coma

Diabetic coma is mainly caused by an extremely high or low blood sugar level. One of these conditions is diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome. It happens in people with Type 2 diabetes. If you develop this condition:

  • Your blood sugar could be as high as 600 mg/dL.
  • Your urine wont contain ketones usually.
  • Your blood will be much thicker than normal.

Another condition is diabetic ketoacidosis, which is more common in people with Type 1 diabetes. Things to know about this condition include:

  • It could happen with a blood sugar as low as 250 mg/dL or even lower in some cases.
  • Your body uses fatty acids instead of glucose for fuel.
  • Ketones develop in your urine and bloodstream.

Living With Diabetic Ketoacidosis

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Keeping the balance between blood sugar and insulin is the key to controlling diabetic ketoacidosis. In most cases, this means sticking to your insulin schedule. But you may need to adjust the amount of insulin youre taking.

You should also try to recognize when you feel stressed or sick. Small adjustments to your eating or drinking can make a big difference.


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How Can I Check My Blood Sugar

Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.

What Are Some Of The Other Signs That Death Is Imminent

In addition to low blood pressure before death, there are other signs and symptoms that are often seen that a patient is approaching death. Some common signs and symptoms that death may be imminent include:

  • Cold hands, feet, and legs.
  • Mottled skin.
  • Changes in breathing.

Each patient is unique. Some patients may display some of the above symptoms, but not others. There is also no specific order in which to expect to see these signs and symptoms. To receive a free guide to end-of-life signs and symptoms and learn more about blood pressure before death, please complete the form on this page.

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Digestive Endocrine And Circulatory Systems

After you eat, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose. Essentially, glucose is your bodys fuel source.

As your sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which helps glucose get taken up and used by cells throughout your body. If you have insulin-dependent diabetes, you must take the right about of insulin to get the job done.

Any excess glucose goes to your liver for storage.

When you go a few hours without eating, blood sugar levels go down. If you have a healthy pancreas, it releases a hormone called glucagon to make up for the absence of food. This hormone tells your liver to process the stored sugars and release them into your bloodstream.

If everything works as it should, your blood sugar levels should remain in the normal range until your next meal.


Insufficient blood sugar levels can cause a rapid heartbeat and heart palpitations. However, even if you have diabetes, you may not always have obvious symptoms of low blood sugar. This is a potentially dangerous condition called hypoglycemia unawareness. It happens when you experience low blood sugar so often that it changes your bodys response to it.

Normally, low blood sugar causes your body to release stress hormones, such as epinephrine. Epinephrine is responsible for those early warning signs, like hunger and shakiness.

Nighttime Low Blood Sugar

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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.


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How Is Diabetes During Pregnancy Treated

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment focuses on keeping blood glucose levels in the normal range, and may include:

  • A careful diet with low amounts of carbohydrate foods and drinks

  • Exercise

  • Oral medicines for hypoglycemia

Will You Go Into A Coma From Low Blood Sugar

Yes, a person can go into a coma due to low blood sugar level. Sugar levels can become low in diabetic patients as well as in non-diabetics. The cause of low sugar in diabetic patients can be excessive diabetes medication, fasting or starving for longer duration, sudden heavy exercises above the routine or exercising while fasting, and delayed meals. It is often seen in patients who are still on the same dosage of medicine, but have lost significant weight while in non-diabetics excessive exercising, aerobics while fasting or doing unfamiliar exercises can lead to really low blood sugars and maybe even coma. When blood sugar level drops below 60 mg%, the glucose inside the blood is not able to reach the brain cells and fulfill its demand for the brain. If this goes on for few minutes, the person starts sweating and becomes giddy, in this phase if he eats or drinks something sweet he recovers, but if this phase continues for a longer duration, then the brains sugar further reduces and patient collapses or may go into coma. This is a medical emergency and patient needs to be attended to by a doctor or rushed to the hospital immediately.Continue reading > >

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How Can I Treat High Blood Sugar

Talk to your doctor about how to keep your blood sugar levels within your target range. Your doctor may suggest the following:

  • Be more active. Regular exercise can help keep your blood sugar levels on track. Important: dont exercise if ketones are present in your urine. This can make your blood sugar go even higher.
  • Take medicine as instructed. If your blood sugar is often high, your doctor may change how much medicine you take or when you take it.
  • Follow your diabetes meal plan. Ask your doctor or dietitian for help if youre having trouble sticking to it.
  • Check your blood sugar as directed by your doctor. Check more often if youre sick or if youre concerned about high or low blood sugar.
  • Talk to your doctor about adjusting how much insulin you take and what types of insulin to use.

Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar

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How you react to low blood sugar may not be the same as how someone else with low blood sugar reacts. Its important to know your signs. Common symptoms may include:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Hunger

If youve had low blood sugar without feeling or noticing symptoms , you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low and treat it. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous, so be sure to check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel.

You may not have any symptoms when your blood sugar is low . If you dont have symptoms, it will be harder to treat your low blood sugar early. This increases your risk of having severe lows and can be dangerous. This is more likely to happen if you:

  • Have had diabetes for more than 5-10 years.
  • Frequently have low blood sugar.
  • Take certain medicines, such as beta blockers for high blood pressure.

If you meet one or more of the above and you have hypoglycemia unawareness, you may need to check your blood sugar more often to see if its low. This is very important to do before driving or being physically active.


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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.

Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar

Each person’s reaction to low blood sugar is different. Learn your own signs and symptoms of when your blood sugar is low. Taking time to write these symptoms down may help you learn your own symptoms of when your blood sugar is low. From milder, more common indicators to most severe, signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • Feeling shaky
  • Color draining from the skin
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Feeling weak or having no energy
  • Blurred/impaired vision
  • Tingling or numbness in the lips, tongue or cheeks
  • Headaches
  • Nightmares or crying out during sleep
  • Seizures

The only sure way to know whether you are experiencing low blood sugar is to check your blood sugar, if possible. If you are experiencing symptoms and you are unable to check your blood sugar for any reason, treat the hypoglycemia.


A low blood sugar level triggers the release of epinephrine , the fight-or-flight hormone. Epinephrine is what can cause the symptoms of hypoglycemia such as thumping heart, sweating, tingling and anxiety.

If the blood sugar level continues to drop, the brain does not get enough glucose and stops functioning as it should. This can lead to blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, confused thinking, slurred speech, numbness, and drowsiness. If blood sugar stays low for too long, starving the brain of glucose, it may lead to seizures, coma and very rarely death.

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How Can I Help Prevent Low Blood Sugar

You can help prevent low blood sugar if you:

  • Check your blood sugar regularly.
  • Learn your symptoms of low blood sugar so that you can treat it right away.
  • Know what causes low blood sugar.
  • Eat at regular mealtimes. Donât delay or skip meals and donât eat partial meals.
  • Take all medicines exactly as prescribed.
  • Check your blood sugar more often when you are exercising more or eating less, or when you are sick, according to your healthcare providers recommendations.
  • Keep your follow-up appointments with your provider and take your glucose meter or sugar log to show your provider at your checkups.

What Are The Treatments For Hypoglycemia

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Make an appointment with an endocrinologist if you feel like youre having episodes of hypoglycemia, even if youre not diabetic. Theyll talk you through treatment strategies, including:


  • Adjusting your medications. You may need to change how often you take insulin or other medications, which medications youre on, how much you take, and when you take them.

  • Working with a registered dietitian on a personalized meal plan that stabilizes blood sugar levels. Theres no one-size-fits-all hypoglycemia diet, but a nutritionist can help you figure out a consistent meal plan tailored to you, and teach you how to count carbohydrate grams to go along with your health and routine.

  • Increasing and improving self-monitoring of your blood glucose levels. Knowing your blood glucose level throughout the daywhen you get up, before meals, and after meals etc.can help you keep it from getting too low.

  • Limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol interferes with the way your body metabolizes glucose. If you’re prone to hypoglycemia, consider decreasing how much alcohol you consume.

  • Glucose tablets . Make sure you always have glucose tablets on hand, whether at home, school, the office, or the gym. After taking the tablet, check your blood sugar. If its still low, take another tablet. If that doesnt help, check with your doctor.

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