How Do I Treat An Episode Of Hypoglycemia
The American Diabetes Association recommends the 15-15 rule for an episode of hypoglycemia:
- Eat or drink 15 grams of carbs to raise your blood sugar.
- After 15 minutes, check your blood sugar.
- If its still below 70 mg/dL, have another 15 grams of carbs.
- Repeat until your blood sugar is at least 70 mg/dL.
If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia but cant test your blood sugar, use the 15-15 rule until you feel better.
Note: Children need fewer grams of carbs. Check with your healthcare provider.
What Is Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose, also called low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in your blood drops below what is healthy for you. For many people with diabetes, this means a blood glucose reading lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter .1 Your number might be different, so check with your doctor or health care team to find out what blood glucose level is low for you.
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.
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Preventing A Low Blood Sugar Level
If you have diabetes, you can reduce your chance of getting a low blood sugar level if you:
- Check your blood sugar level regularly and be aware of the symptoms of a low blood sugar level so you can treat it quickly.
- Always carry a sugary snack or drink with you, such as glucose tablets, a carton of fruit juice or some sweets. If you have a glucagon injection kit, always keep it with you.
- Do not skip meals.
- Be careful when drinking alcohol. Do not drink large amounts, check your blood sugar level regularly, and eat a carbohydrate snack afterwards.
- Be careful when exercising eating a carbohydrate snack before exercise can help to reduce the risk of a hypo. If you take some types of diabetes medicine, your doctor may recommend you take a lower dose before or after doing intense exercise.
- Have a carbohydrate snack, such as toast, if your blood sugar level drops too low while you’re asleep
If you keep getting a low blood sugar level, talk to your diabetes care team about things you can do to help prevent it.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
Mild hypoglycemia can cause such symptoms as:
Severe hypoglycemia can also cause these symptoms:
- not responding or waking up
Teach your child about the symptoms of low blood sugar and what to do. Even young kids who can’t describe their symptoms can learn to tell an adult when they don’t feel well. Help your child understand that they need treatment when they dont feel well. And explain how to find an adult who can help them.
Some people with diabetes can’t sense the early warning signs of low blood sugar. They may not recognize they need quick treatment. This can lead to more serious symptoms as blood sugar levels continue to fall. If you think your child cant sense what low blood sugar feels like, tell the diabetes care team.
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How Is Hypoglycemia Treated
Your doctor will need to identify the cause of your hypoglycemia to determine the right long-term therapy for you.
Glucose will help boost your blood sugar levels in the short term. One way to get additional glucose is to consume 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Drinking fruit juice is an easy way to get extra glucose into your bloodstream. These sources of glucose often briefly correct hypoglycemia, but then another drop in blood sugar often follows.
Eating foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, such as pasta and whole grains, will sustain blood sugar levels after a period of hypoglycemia.
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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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.
Early Symptoms Of Prediabetes
There are usually no signs or symptoms of prediabetes that serve as an early warning. Rarely, people with prediabetes may develop darkened skin in the armpits or the back of the neck, sometimes with tiny skin tags. Other than this, your warning signs are your risk factors. If you have these risk factors you should get your blood sugar checked:
- You are overweight.
- Your waist size is over 40 inches if you are a man, or over 35 inches if you are a woman. A large waist means you have a type of fat inside your belly that increases insulin resistance.
- You have a family history of type 2 diabetes in a parent, brother, or sister.
- Your diet includes lots of red meat and sugar-sweetened drinks.
- You dont get much exercise or physical activity.
- You are Black, Hispanic, Asian, or American Indian.
- You are a woman who has been diagnosed with polycystic ovary disease or gestational diabetes.
- You have sleep apnea.
- You are a smoker.
If you have a large waist size along with high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, you have a condition called metabolic syndrome, which often leads to type 2 diabetes. If you have any of these risk factor warnings, you should get your blood sugar tested. Even if you dont have any risk factors, the American Diabetes Association says you should get tested by age 45.
Prediabetes is diagnosed with several blood tests. Two important tests are a fasting blood sugar and the A1C test, which give you your average blood sugar over the past three months.
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Key Points About Hypoglycemia In Children
Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood glucose is too low to fuel the brain and the body.
It may be a condition by itself, or may be a complication of diabetes or another disorder.
To treat low blood glucose right away, your child should eat or drink something with sugar, such as orange juice, milk, cake icing, or a hard candy. They should follow with food with complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein, such as a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Severe or long-lasting hypoglycemia may result in seizures and serious brain injury.
Hypoglycemia: Causes Symptoms And Risk Factors
Classification of hypoglycemia Mild hypoglycemia is associated with the presence of autonomic symptoms and individuals are able to self-treat Moderate hypoglycemia is associated with autonomic* and neuroglycopenic# symptoms and the individual is also able to self-treat Severe hypoglycemia, the individual requires the assistance of another person and unconsciousness may occur *Autonomic symptoms are those manifested as a cause of activation of the sympathetic nervous system and include trembling, palpitations, sweating, anxiety, hunger, nausea and tingling. #Neuroglycopenic symptoms are those manifested in response to decreased levels of glucose to the brain and include difficulty concentrating, confusion, weakness, drowsiness, vision changes, difficulty speaking, headache, dizziness and tiredness
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Intake Of Glucose By Mouth
The blood glucose can usually be raised to normal within minutes with 1520 grams of carbohydrate, although overtreatment should be avoided if at all possible. It can be taken as food or drink if the person is conscious and able to swallow. This amount of carbohydrate is contained in about 34 ounces of orange, apple, or grape juice, about 45 ounces of regular soda, about one slice of bread, about 4 crackers, or about 1 serving of most starchy foods. Starch is quickly digested to glucose, but adding fat or protein retards digestion. Composition of the treatment should be considered, as fruit juice is typically higher in fructose which takes the body longer to metabolize than simple dextrose alone. Following treatment, symptoms should begin to improve within 5 to 10 minutes, although full recovery may take 1020 minutes. Overtreatment does not speed recovery, and will simply produce hyperglycemia afterwards, which ultimately will need to be corrected. On the other hand, since the excess of insulin over the amount required to normalize blood sugar may continue to reduce blood sugar levels after treatment has produced an initial normalization, continued monitoring is required to determine if further treatment is necessary.
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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
- Nightmares or crying out during sleep
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.
What If I Have Severe Low Blood Glucose And Cant Treat Myself
Glucagona hormone that raises blood glucose levelsis the best way to treat severely low blood glucose. Available as an injection or a nasal spray, glucagon will quickly raise your blood glucose level. Your doctor can prescribe you a glucagon kit for use in case of an emergency.
If your blood glucose level drops very low, you wont be able to treat it by yourself. Be prepared to address severely low blood glucose by
- talking with your doctor or health care team about when and how to use a glucagon emergency kit. If you have an emergency kit, regularly check the date on the package to make sure it hasnt expired.
- teaching your family, friends, and coworkers when and how to give you glucagon. Tell them to call 911 right away after giving you glucagon or if you dont have a glucagon emergency kit with you.
- wearing a medical alert identification bracelet or pendant. A medical alert ID tells other people that you have diabetes and need care right away. Getting prompt care can help prevent the serious problems that low blood glucose levels can cause.
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What Is The Difference Between Hypoglycemia And Hyperglycemia
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Low Blood Pressure And High Blood Sugar
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How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed
Hypoglycemia can occur in a fasting state, meaning youve gone for an extended period without eating. Your doctor may ask you to take a fasting test. This test can last as long as 72 hours. During the test, youll have your blood drawn at different times to measure your blood glucose level.
Another test is a mixed-meal tolerance test. This test is for people who experience hypoglycemia after eating.
The results are usually available within a day or two. If your blood sugar level is lower than 55 mg/dl, you may have hypoglycemia.
Keep track of your symptoms with a symptom diary. Your diary should include any symptoms, what youve eaten, and how long before or after a meal your symptoms occurred. This information will help your doctor make a diagnosis.
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.
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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.
How To Treat A Low Blood Sugar Level Yourself
Follow these steps if your blood sugar level is less than 3.5mmol/L or you have hypo symptoms:
You do not usually need to get medical help once you’re feeling better if you only have a few hypos.
But tell your diabetes team if you keep having hypos or if you stop having symptoms when your blood sugar level is low.
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