Faq: Frequently Asked Questions
Who is most at risk for hypoglycemia? Aside from diabetics, Dr. Jennifer Shine Dyer notes that children are more prone toexperience episodes of hypoglycemia because of their smaller body size, as well as having less fat to burn to maintain energy when glucose levels are low. Eating meals every 4 to 6 hours should maintain glucose levels if this is the only cause of hypoglycemia, she says.
How do I know it’s low blood sugar?;;To know if you’re suffering from hypoglycemia, you’ll need to begin tracking your glucose levels under the supervision of your doctor. Drugstores and pharmacies carry test strips, as well as glucose meters, which will help. You can even see the effect that different foods have on your body by checking your blood sugar after eating.
Does fasting affect my blood sugar levels?;Yes, going without food can trigger hypoglycemia. If you have diabetes and are concerned about hypoglycemia, aim to eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks that are low in processed sugars every three hours or so.
Does alcohol consumption trigger low blood sugar?Excessive alcohol consumption, defined as more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men, especially with little food, can keep your liver from releasing glucose, which can lead to hypoglycemia.
Hypo Vs Hyper Your Greek Lesson For The Day
Glycemia is defined as the presence of glucose in the blood.
Hypo comes from the Greek word;hupo, which translates as;under or, more typically, less.
Hyper is also a holdover from the Greeks, from the Greek word;huper, which translates as;over or above.
So extending that logic, hypoglycemia is a low blood sugar level and hyperglycemia is a high blood sugar level.
Now that we have that sorted…
What Complications Can Be Caused By Hypoglycemia
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.
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Repeated Use Of The Same Injection Site
Certain people with diabetes need to use insulin injections daily for managing their diabetes. If you repeatedly inject insulin into the same site, over time, it can lead to an accumulation of fat and scar tissue underneath the surface of your skin. This is known as lipohypertrophy.
Lipohypertrophy has an impact on the manner in which the body absorbs insulin. Continuing to inject insulin at the same site puts you at a potentially higher risk of having an episode of hypoglycemia or even hyperglycemia. This is why it is crucial to keep rotating the injection site.
It is also essential to keep in mind that different parts of your body absorb insulin in different ways. For example, the absorption time is the fastest when you inject insulin in the abdomen, followed by the arm. It surprises many people to learn that the buttocks have the slowest rate of absorption.
Can Hypoglycemia Occur Without Diabetes
While hypoglycemia is commonly associated with diabetes mellitus, there are other medications and conditions that cause itbut hypoglycemia without diabetes is quite uncommon, according to Satjit Bhusri, MD, founder of Upper East Side Cardiology in New York City.
Diabetes is defined by excess sugar in the blood, or hyperglycemia. Hypoglycemia is defined by insufficient sugar in the blood.;
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Treating An Episode Of Hypoglycaemia
The immediate treatment for hypoglycaemia is to have some sugary food or drink to end the attack.
For example, this could be:
- a glass of fruit juice or non-diet soft drink
- between three and five dextrose tablets
- a handful of sweets
At first you should avoid fatty foods and drinks, such as chocolate and milk, because they don’t usually contain as much sugar and the sugar they do contain may be absorbed more slowly.
After having something sugary, you should have a longer-acting carbohydrate food, such as a few biscuits, a cereal bar, a piece of fruit or a sandwich.
It will usually take around 15 minutes to recover from a mild episode of hypoglycaemia. If you have a blood glucose meter, measure your blood sugar again after 15 to 20 minutes. If it’s still too low , you should have some more sugary food or a drink before testing;your levels;again in another 15 to 20;minutes.
When treating someone else with hypoglycaemia, if the above treatment isn’t effective, you may be able to help them by applying glucose gel to the inside of their cheeks, and gently massaging the outside of their cheeks.
It may take 10 to 15 minutes before they feel better. This shouldn’t be done if the person is drowsy or unconscious because of the risk of choking.
How Serious Is Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemic episodes can range from mild to severe.
Mild hypoglycemia can usually be treated by the individual and are to be expected to some degree in people on insulin. Mild hypos are not associated with significant long term health problems unless they are occurring very regularly or for long periods of time.
Severe hypoglycemia, however,;will require treatment from someone else and may require an ambulance. Severe hypos can lead to immediate danger if not treated immediately. Whilst rare, severe hypos can potentially lead to coma and death.
- What is dead in bed syndrome ?
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Hypoglycemia Tests And Diagnosis
To diagnose nondiabetic hypoglycemia, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions about any medicines you take. Theyâll want to know all about your health and any history of diseases or stomach surgery.
Theyâll check your blood glucose level, especially when you are having symptoms. Theyâll also check to see if you feel better when your sugar goes back to a normal level.
If your doctor suspects hypoglycemia, you may have to fast until you start to have symptoms. Theyâll test your blood glucose level at different times throughout the fast.
To check for reactive hypoglycemia, you may have to take a test called a mixed-meal tolerance test . For this, you take a special drink that raises your blood glucose. The doctor will check your blood glucose levels over the next few hours.
Overdose Of Diabetes Medication
A common cause of hypoglycaemia is taking too much insulin for your current needs. Insulin is a medication that helps control your blood glucose levels. It’s commonly used to treat;type 1 diabetes;and is also recommended for some;people with;type 2 diabetes.
A fall in blood;glucose levels can also occur after taking too much oral hypoglycaemia medication, such as sulphonylurea, which causes a release of insulin. This medication is often used;to lower blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
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What Can Cause Hypoglycemia In People Without Diabetes
Clinical hypoglycemia is a blood sugar level below 70 mg/dl.
Depending on when it happens, hypoglycemia without diabetes can be categorized into two types:
Fasting hypoglycemia: It occurs when you do not eat for extended periods.
Reactive hypoglycemia: It occurs within a few hours of eating a meal.
Fasting hypoglycemia can be caused by any of the following factors:
- Medications :
- Insulinomas: These are a type of insulin-secreting tumors that can cause sudden episodes of hypoglycemia. They are sometimes a part of multiple cancer syndromes and genetic testing may be needed for diagnosis.
The cause of reactive hypoglycemia can be:
Difference Between Diabetes And Hypoglycemia
People often get diabetes and hypoglycemia confused with one another, believing that they are two different names for the same condition. In actuality, they could not be more opposite.
As we eat, our food is converted over to glucose, which is used for fuel in our cells and organs. As long as glucose levels remain balanced, the body runs efficiently. Anything over the recommended level and the body is called being pre-diabetic because you are dangerously close to developing diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition that originates when the body does not process sugar in the blood correctly. This sugar is known as glucose. When diabetes is present, the body is suffering from one of two situations: either it is not producing insulin for the body’s needs or the insulin that is being produced is not adequate to meet the body’s needs. In response, the amount of glucose continues to rise to dangerously high levels.
While diabetes addresses the problem of sugar levels being too high, hypoglycemia is when blood sugars are too low . There are several reasons why an individual’s blood sugar levels would dip too low. One has to do with the foods that they are consuming. Not balancing out foods correctly will cause glucose to drop.
But according to statistics, the number one reason for hypoglycemia is not food-related. It is triggered by their medication.
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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.
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.
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If A Person Is Unconscious
If a person loses consciousness;because of;severe hypoglycaemia, they need to be put into the;recovery position and given an injection of the hormone glucagon;. The injection will raise their blood glucose level.
The injection should be carried out by a friend or family member who knows what they’re doing, or by a trained healthcare professional.
You should dial 999 to request an ambulance if:
- a glucagon injection kit isn’t available
- there’s nobody available who’s trained to give the injection
- the injection is ineffective after 10 minutes
Never try to put food or drink into the mouth of someone who’s unconscious as;they could choke.
If you’re able to give a glucagon injection and the person regains consciousness, they should;eat some longer-acting carbohydrate food, such as a few biscuits, a cereal bar or a sandwich.
You should continue to monitor the person for signs of recurring symptoms;in case they need to be treated again.
What Is The Treatment For Non
Treatment depends on the cause of your hypoglycemia. For example, if you have a tumor, you may need surgery. If medicine is causing your hypoglycemia, you need to change medicines.
For immediate treatment of low blood glucose, make sure you eat or drink 15 grams carbohydrate .
Ask your doctor or dietitian whether you need to change your diet. The following type of diet may help you:
Eating small meals and snacks throughout the day, eating about every three hours
Having a variety of foods, including protein , dairy foods, and high-fiber foods such as whole-grain bread, fruit, and vegetables
Limiting high-sugar foods
Some doctors recommend a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet but this type of diet has not proven to help hypoglycemia.
What is causing my hypoglycemia?
What are my options for treatment?
How long will I need treatment?
How often will I need check-ups and blood tests?
How long will I have hypoglycemia?
Should I see an endocrinologist?
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.
How Can I Prevent Hypoglycemia
You may need to change what and when you eat to prevent low blood sugar levels. Follow the meal plan that you and the dietitian have planned. The following guidelines may help you keep your blood sugar levels under control.
- Eat 5 to 6 small meals each day instead of 3 large meals. Eat the same amount of carbohydrate at meals and snacks each day. Most people need about 3 to 4 servings of carbohydrate at meals and 1 to 2 servings for snacks. Do not skip meals. Carbohydrate counting can be used plan your meals. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian for information about carbohydrate counting.
- Limit refined carbohydrates. Examples are white bread, pastries , regular sodas, syrups, and candy.
- Do not have drinks or foods that contain caffeine. Examples are coffee, tea, and certain types of sodas. Caffeine may cause you to have the same symptoms as hypoglycemia, and may cause you to feel worse.
- Limit or do not drink alcohol. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1Â½ ounces of liquor. Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Drink alcohol with meals to avoid hypoglycemia.
- Include protein foods and vegetables in your meals. Some foods that are high in protein include beef, pork, fish, poultry , beans, and nuts. Eat a variety of vegetables with your meals.
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How To Prevent Hyperglycemia With And Without Diabetes
If you dont have diabetes, you can prevent hyperglycemia with regular physical activity. Aim for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week.
Maintaining a healthy weight also keeps blood sugar within a safe range. This includes eating fewer refined carbohydrates, and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you have diabetes, always take your medication as directed. You can talk with your doctor, a diabetes educator, or a dietitian about healthy diabetes meal plans. You should also regularly monitor your blood sugar.
If youre thinking about starting a new exercise routine, talk with your doctor first. They may need to adjust your medication.
How Can I Prevent Low Blood Sugar
Your best bet is to practice good diabetes management and learn to detect hypoglycemia so you can treat it earlybefore it gets worse.
Monitoring blood sugar, with either a meter or a CGM, is the tried and true method for preventing hypoglycemia. Studies consistently show that the more a person checks blood sugar, the lower his or her risk of hypoglycemia. This is because you can see when blood sugar levels are dropping and can treat it before it gets too low.
If you can, check often!;;
- Check before and after meals.
- Check before and after exercise .
- Check before bed.
- After intense exercise, also check in the middle of the night.
- Check more if things around you change such as, a new insulin routine, a different work schedule, an increase in physical activity, or travel across time zones.
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A Low Blood Sugar Level And Driving
You may still be allowed to drive if you have diabetes or you’re at risk of a low blood sugar level for another reason, but you’ll need to do things to reduce the chance of this happening while you’re driving.
You also need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and your car insurance company about your condition.
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