Low blood sugar is really a condition occurring whenever your blood sugar levels (glucose) is less than normal. Low blood sugar may occur in people who have diabetes that are taking insulin or certain other medicines to manage their diabetes. Low blood sugar may cause dangerous symptoms. Discover ways to recognize the outward indications of low blood sugar and how to avoid them.
What is Low Blood Sugar?
Low blood sugar is known as hypoglycemia. A blood sugar levels level below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L) is low and can harm you. A blood sugar levels level below 54 mg/dL (3.0 mmol/L) is a reason for immediate action.
You’re at an increased risk for low blood sugar if you have diabetes and are taking any of the following diabetes medicines:
- Glyburide (Micronase), glipizide (Glucotrol), glimepiride (Amaryl), repaglinide (Prandin), or nateglinide (Starlix)
- Chlorpropamide (Diabinese), tolazamide (Tolinase), acetohexamide (Dymelor), or tolbutamide (Orinase)
You’re also at increased threat of having low blood sugar if you have had previous low blood sugar levels.
Recognizing Low Blood Sugar
Learn how to tell when your blood sugar levels gets low. Symptoms include:
- Weakness or feeling tired
- Feeling uneasy, nervous, or anxious
- Feeling cranky
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Double or blurry vision
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
Sometimes your blood sugar levels may be too low even though you don’t have symptoms. When it gets too low, you may:
- Have a seizure
- Enter a coma
Some individuals who have had diabetes for a long time stop being able to sense low blood sugar. This is called hypoglycemic unawareness. Ask your health care provider if wearing a continuous glucose monitor and sensor can help you detect when your blood sugar levels gets too low in order to help prevent symptoms.
Check Your Blood Sugar Often
Talk to your provider about once you should check your blood sugar levels every day. Individuals who have low blood sugar need to check on their blood sugar levels more often.
The most typical factors behind low blood sugar are:
- Taking your insulin or diabetes medicine at the incorrect time
- Taking a lot of insulin or diabetes medicine
- Not eating enough during meals or snacks once you have taken insulin or diabetes medicine
- Skipping meals
- Waiting a long time after taking your medicine to eat your meals
- Exercising a whole lot or at the same time that’s unusual for you
- Not checking your blood sugar levels or not adjusting your insulin dose before exercising
- Drinking alcohol
Preventing Low Blood Sugar
Preventing low blood sugar is better than having to treat it. Always have a supply of fast-acting sugar with you.
- Whenever you exercise, check your blood sugar levels levels. Be sure you have snacks with you.
- Speak to your provider about reducing insulin doses on days that you exercise.
- Ask your provider if you will need a bedtime snack to avoid low blood sugar overnight. Protein snacks may be best.
DO NOT drink alcohol without eating food. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink each day and men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. Family and friends should learn how to help. They need to know:
- The symptoms of low blood sugar and how to share with when you have them.
- Just how much and what type of food they need to give you.
- When to call for emergency help.
- Just how to inject glucagon, a hormone that increases your blood sugar. Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to utilize this medicine.
When you yourself have diabetes, always wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. This can help emergency medical workers know you’ve diabetes.
When Your Blood Sugar Gets Low
Check your blood sugar levels if you have symptoms of low blood sugar. If your blood sugar levels is below 70 mg/dL, treat yourself right away.
- Eat something that has about 15 grams (g) of carbohydrates. Examples are 3 glucose tablets, one half cup (4 ounces or 237 mL) of juice or regular, non-diet soda, 5 or 6 hard candies, 1 tablespoon (tbsp) or 15 mL of sugar, plain or dissolved in water, or 1 tbsp (15 mL) of honey or syrup.
- Wait about 15 minutes before eating any more. Be mindful not to eat too much. This will cause high blood sugar levels and weight gain.
- Check your blood sugar levels again.
- If you don’t feel a lot better in 15 minutes and your blood sugar levels remains below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L), eat something with 15 g of carbohydrate again.
You may need to eat a treat with carbohydrates and protein if your blood sugar levels is in a safer range — over 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L) — and your next meal is significantly more than an hour or so away.
Ask your provider how to handle this situation. If these steps for raising your blood sugar levels do not work, call your doctor right away.
Talk to Your Doctor or Nurse
If you use insulin and your blood sugar levels is frequently or consistently low, ask your doctor or nurse if you:
- Are injecting your insulin the proper way
- Need a different form of needle
- Should change simply how much insulin you take
- Should change the kind of insulin you take
DO NOT make any changes without talking to your doctor or nurse first.
Sometimes hypoglycemia may be as a result of taking the incorrect medicines. Check your medicines along with your pharmacist.
When to Call the Doctor
If signs of low blood sugar DO NOT improve once you have eaten a treat which contains sugar, have someone drive you to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911). DO NOT drive when your blood sugar levels is low.
Get medical help right away for an individual with low blood sugar if anyone is not alert or can’t be awakened.
Use Herbs to Lower Your Blood Sugar
You can also try this herbs to lower blood sugar. So you can lower your blood sugar.
American Diabetes Association. 6. Glycemic targets: standards of medical care in diabetes-2018. Diabetes Care. 2018;41(Suppl 1):S55-S64. PMID: 29222377 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29222377
Davis SN, Lamos EM, Younk LM. Hypoglycemia and hypoglycemic syndromes. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 47.