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What Makes Your Blood Sugar Drop


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Whether you were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or have been living with the condition for several years, you know how fickle blood sugar levels can be, and how important it is that they stay controlled.

Proper blood sugar control is key for warding off potential diabetes complications, such as kidney disease, nerve damage, vision problems, stroke, and heart disease, according to the National Institutes of Health . Plus, keeping your levels in check on a daily basis can help you stay energized, focused, and in a good mood, explains Lisa McDermott, RD, CDCES, a diabetes specialist with the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network.

According to the American Diabetes Association , proper medication, effective meal planning, regular exercise, and regular blood sugar checks can all help you keep your levels within a healthy range. The ADA recommends blood glucose stay within 80 to 130 milligrams per deciliter before meals and below 180 mg/dL two hours after the start of a meal. Furthermore, the organization recommends getting an A1C test, which measures your average blood glucose over the past two to three months, at least twice per year if your levels are stable and you are meeting treatment goals.

Its All About Balance Moderation And Consistency

The sugar high is all fun and games until the resulting sugar crash affects the quality of your day.


The term refers to the sudden drop in energy levels after consuming a large amount of carbohydrates. This can include pastas and pizza but is usually more common after eating simple carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars, such as desserts.

A sugar crash often causes undesired symptoms that can disrupt productivity and energy levels throughout the day.

Kelsey Herrick, senior dietitian at Sanford Health, suggests balance, moderation and consistency are the most effective ways to avoid these crashes. Herrick shares her knowledge on sugar crashes, how to avoid them and what to do if you get one.

Causes Symptoms Diagnosis Treatments And Support

With Elena Christofides and Jennifer Shine Dyer MD, MPH

When youre diabetic, a severe drop in blood sugar can strike even when youre doing everything right. Glucose is your bodys main source of energy and fuels your brain, so its critical to recognize the early signs of an episode before it becomes severe enough to cause you to pass out or worse. Were here to empower you with clear answers to all your pressing Qs.


| | | | | | Fast Facts |

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What You Can Do

If you have diabetes, a great way to help keep anxiety away is to keep your blood sugar in a safe range. Thatâs not as easy as it sounds. But these tips can make it a bit easier:

Be careful with insulin. Too much of it is the most common reason for low blood sugar. If you’re taking insulin to treat your diabetes, be sure to use the right type and dose every time. When you inject it, make sure to do it just under your skin. A shot into the muscle absorbs too fast and doesnât last as long.

Go low . Some foods make your blood sugar shoot up fast and drop a few hours later. Other foods keep it on a more even keel. A foodâs glycemic index is a good way to know which is which.


It’s a number that gives you an idea of how fast your body turns carbs into sugar. The higher the number, the quicker it happens and the higher your blood sugar will spike. High-glycemic foods include:

  • Simple sugars
  • Carbs like white bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes

Low-glycemic foods include:

Tips For Keeping Blood Sugar Steady

Low Blood Sugar

The best way to address your personal concerns and needs is to discuss your diet, medication, and lifestyle with your healthcare team. They can diagnose any underlying conditions, adjust or change your medications, and advise you on the best ways to prevent hypoglycemia.

Tips that apply across the board to keep blood sugar stable include:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Planning meals
  • Getting adequate sleep

People with diabetes may face more challenges when managing blood sugar levels, but it is possible to stay healthy.


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Complications From Spells Of Hypoglycemia

Mildly low blood sugar levels are somewhat common for people with diabetes. However, severely low blood sugar levels can be life threatening. They may lead to seizures and nervous system damage if left untreated long enough. Immediate treatment is critical.

Its important to recognize your symptoms and treat them quickly. For people at risk for low blood sugar, having a glucagon kit a medication that raises blood sugar levels is important. Talk with your doctor for more information.

You may also want to talk with friends, family members, exercise partners, and co-workers about how to care for you if your blood sugar drops too low.

Its important for them to recognize low blood sugar symptoms and to know how to use the glucagon kit, as well as understand the importance of calling 911 if you lose consciousness.


Wearing a medical identification bracelet is a good idea. It can help emergency responders care for you properly if you need urgent medical attention.

Treat low blood sugar as soon as possible. Avoid driving if you are experiencing low blood sugar, as it can increase your risk for having an accident.

There are several ways you can prevent low blood sugar. Well look at each of these prevention methods in more detail below.

What Causes A Drop In Blood Sugar Levels

Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to enter the cells where it is used for energy. The pancreas releases insulin in response to high blood sugar levels. When glucose enters the cell, it leaves the bloodstream, causing a blood sugar drop.

There are several potential causes of low blood glucose levels, which well discuss below.


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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.


What Causes Reactive Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycaemia – How to Treat and Prevent Low Blood Sugar

Reactive hypoglycemia comes from having too much insulin in your blood. It usually happens within a few hours after you eat. Other possible causes include:

  • Having prediabetes or being more likely to have diabetes

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What Foods Prevent Low Blood Sugar At Night

If you check and you notice that your levels are close to 70 mg/dL at bedtime, then you know you might be at risk, Dr. Shah says. In this case, he recommends eating some complex carbohydrates, like a peanut butter sandwich, an apple with peanut butter or one slice of multigrain toast with some avocado.

Too Much Insulin Or Diabetes Medications

Many people take diabetes medications to manage their blood sugar levels. Out of all the available diabetes medicines, injectable insulin carries the greatest risk of low blood sugar, especially rapid-acting insulin.

Because insulin lowers blood sugar, taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications can cause hypoglycemia.


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Connection Between Alcohol And Blood Sugar

Drinking alcohol can have an impact on blood sugar levels .

For people with diabetes, alcohol use has an even greater effect. This is especially true if your diabetes is unmonitored or your sugar levels are not under control.

The liver plays a key role in balancing your blood sugar levels. Alcohol decreases your liver’s ability to function. As a result, your liver may not be able to release glucose into your bloodstream properly.

This can be especially dangerous if you have diabetes and take insulin.


If your liver doesn’t release enough sugar into your blood, you risk becoming hypoglycemic. Conversely, certain alcoholic drinks contain high levels of sugar and can spike your blood sugar levels.

In the United States, more than 34 million people have diabetes. However, 4 in every 5 of these individuals are aware that they have the condition.2

Who Gets Low Blood Sugar

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Low blood sugar can happen in people with prediabetes or diabetes, according to Mayo Clinic. If you are on insulin, it can happen if you take more insulin than you need, skip a meal, or eat fewer carbohydrates than usual without adjusting insulin. If you are not on insulin, or have diabetes but do not know it, low blood sugar can also happen if you skip a meal. It can also happen if you exercise more than usual.

Low blood sugar is also more likely after eating meals that are high in starches and sugars because these are types of carbohydrates that raise blood sugar levels quickly. The effect is greater if the meal is low in protein, fat, and fiber, since those nutrients slow digestion and prevent blood sugar from swinging so wildly.

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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.

Treatment Options For Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

Here are some of the best treatments for AUD:

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive and effective option for alcohol addiction treatment.

These programs usually last 30, 60, or 90 days. They may be longer in some cases.


Throughout an inpatient program, you’ll live on-site in a safe, substance-free environment.

You’ll go through medically supervised detox first, then behavioral therapy. Other services may be added to your regimen.

Many of these treatment programs assist you with an aftercare program afterward.

PHPs are the second most intensive alcohol addiction programs. They’re sometimes called intensive outpatient programs . PHPs provide comparable services to inpatient programs.

These services may include:


  • Support groups
  • Other holistic or custom treatments

The main difference between PHPs and inpatient programs is that you return home and sleep at your house during a partial hospitalization program.

Some PHPs provide food and transportation. This varies by program.

PHPs are ideal for new patients and those who have completed an inpatient program and still require intensive treatment.

Outpatient programs are less intensive than inpatient programs and PHPs. They’re best for people who are highly motivated to achieve sobriety. Patients usually have responsibilities at work, home, or school.

These programs customize your treatment sessions around your schedule.

Outpatient programs may be part of aftercare once a patient completes an inpatient program or PHP.

  • Disulfiram

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What Is Blood Sugar

Blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is sugar thats carried to the cells through the bloodstream. Blood sugar generally refers to the concentration of sugar in your blood at a specific time.

We get sugar from the foods we eat, which is normal, and its the bodys job to regulate blood sugar levels, so they dont go too high or low. When a person has balanced blood sugar, its called homeostasis.

Throughout the day, its not uncommon for blood sugar levels to go up and down based on when you eat and how your body releases a hormone called insulin. If youve just eaten, your blood sugar levels will go up, and then theyll settle back down. If you have diabetes, however, your blood sugar levels may have to be specially managed.

If your blood sugar is always high, you have hyperglycemia, which can happen in people who dont have a good handle on their diabetes. If your blood sugar is below normal, its called hypoglycemia, and this can happen in diabetics if they accidentally use too much of their medication.

So, what role does alcohol play in all of this and how does alcohol affect blood sugar?

What Are The Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia

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Symptoms of hypoglycemia can start quickly, with people experiencing them in different ways. The signs of hypoglycemia are unpleasant. But they provide good warnings that you should take action before blood sugar drops more. The signs include:

  • Shaking or trembling.
  • Tingling or numbness in the face or mouth.

During a severe hypoglycemic event, a person may:

  • Be unable to eat or drink.
  • Have a seizure or convulsions .
  • Lose consciousness.
  • Slip into a coma or die .

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Caution: Birth Control Pills

Types that have estrogen can affect the way your body handles insulin. Still, oral contraceptives are safe for women with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association suggests a combination pill with norgestimate and synthetic estrogen. The group also says birth control shots and implants are safe for women with the condition, though they can affect your blood sugar levels.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia tends to present as a cluster of symptoms, and they often occur together. The most common signs of dangerously low blood sugar include:

  • Dizziness, disorientation, light-headedness, and an inability to think clearly
  • Hunger, especially if youve just eaten
  • Heightened irritability, confusion, and anxiety
  • Clamminess and sweating, with cold hands and feet
  • Drastic mood swings

If you have one or more of these symptoms contact your doctor.

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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 Extreme Conditions Can Occur If Hypoglycemia Is Left Untreated

Low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia): Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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.

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Causes Of Low Blood Sugar

There are many reasons why you may have low blood sugar, including:

  • Taking too much insulin.
  • Not eating enough carbs for how much insulin you take.
  • Timing of when you take your insulin.
  • The amount and timing of physical activity.
  • Drinking alcohol.
  • How much fat, protein, and fiber are in your meal.
  • Hot and humid weather.
  • Unexpected changes in your schedule.
  • Spending time at a high altitude.
  • Going through puberty.
  • Menstruation.

Preventing Low Blood Sugar Levels

Here are some other tips to help you avoid low blood sugar levels:

  • Eat all your meals and snacks on time and try not to skip any.
  • Take the right amount of insulin.
  • If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
  • Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
  • Stick to your diabetes management plan.
  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly, so you can tell if your blood sugars are running too low and your treatment plan needs adjustment.
  • Carry something containing sugar with you at all times and take it right away if you have symptoms. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away they may get worse!

Alcohol and drugs can cause major problems with your blood sugar levels, so avoiding them is another way to prevent diabetes problems. Drinking can be particularly dangerous even deadly for people with diabetes because it messes up the body’s ability to keep blood glucose in a normal range. This can cause a very rapid drop in blood glucose in people with diabetes. Drug or alcohol use is also dangerous because it may affect someone’s ability to sense low blood sugar levels.

Learning how to recognize the signs of low blood sugar levels and get them back to normal is an important part of caring for diabetes. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels and recording lows when they occur will help you and your diabetes health care team keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

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