Beato Health Coach Madhuparna Pramanick Shares Her Expertise On Maintaining A Normal Blood Sugar Level And The Repercussions Of Low Or High Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes management is not an impossible task. You can keep your blood sugar levels under control in several ways. One can avoid exacerbating the issue and lead a healthy and happy life by making the necessary lifestyle and dietary modifications. However, there are instances when no matter how hard you try to keep your blood sugar levels normal, they wind up being too high or too low. Let us try to comprehend what high and low blood sugar levels are, as well as their potential consequences and treatments.
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.
What Causes Hypoglycemia In Diabetics
In diabetes, the body is either unable to produce or use insulin for lowering blood sugar levels. In the absence of insulin, the blood sugar levels might surge. To prevent hyperglycemia or increased blood sugar levels, primary care physicians or endocrinologists might prescribe either oral anti-diabetic drugs or injectable insulin.
Too much insulin in diabetes can lead to hypoglycemia. One of the main reasons for hypoglycemia in diabetics is intensive management or skipping meals to prevent high blood glucose levels.
Recommended Reading: High Blood Pressure And Stress
Dont Drive When You Have Low Blood Sugar
It’s dangerous. If you’re driving and you have hypoglycemia symptoms, pull off the road, check your blood sugar, and eat a sugary food. Wait at least 15 minutes, check your blood sugar, and repeat these steps if needed. Eat a protein and carbohydrate source before you drive on. Be prepared. Keep a sugar source, such as glucose tablets, in your car at all times for emergencies.
Possible Causes Without Diabetes
Even if you dont have diabetes, you may experience low blood sugar. However, hypoglycemia is much less common in people without diabetes.
Some possible causes of low blood sugar in people who dont have diabetes are:
- certain medications, such as quinine
- some medical conditions, such as hepatitis and kidney disorders
- a tumor that produces excess insulin
- endocrine disorders, such as adrenal gland deficiency
Also Check: Low Blood Pressure Fast Heart Rate
Check Blood Sugar Regularly
People who regularly check their blood sugar tend to have better-controlled blood sugar overall. Checking blood sugar levels at home helps people become aware of their blood sugar trends. It can also help people identify how their lifestyle habits affect their blood sugar and make adjustments to achieve better blood sugar control.
What Is The Outlook For People With Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia can be managed when you and your healthcare provider understand what causes your blood sugar to go down. Give your healthcare provider as much information as possible about any hypoglycemic episodes. Fixing the problem may be as simple as changing the times you take medication, eat and exercise. Minor changes to the types of food you eat may also help.
Read Also: High Blood Pressure And Heart Attack
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.
How To Treat Low Blood Sugar
If you think you have low blood sugar, be sure to check it.
Keeping your blood sugar levels on target as much as possible can help prevent or delay long-term, serious health problems. While this is important, closely managing your blood sugar levels also increases your chance for low blood sugar . Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low. If you think you have low blood sugar, check it. If you arent able to check it, go ahead and treat it.
Untreated low blood sugar can be dangerous, so its important to know what to do about it and to treat it immediately.
Don’t Miss: Hemoglobin Level To Donate Blood
What Are The Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
- Difficulty speaking
- Muscle weakness
If you are experiencing an extremely low blood sugar, which is anything less than 40 mg/dL, that is not responding to fast-acting glucose or glucagon, and you have taken fast-acting insulin within the previous 2 hours, call 911 and seek immediate emergency medical attention.
This condition can be life-threatening if not treated.
Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid With Type 2 Diabetes
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes your doctor most likely has recommended dietary changes to manage your blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates or simple “carbs” are the primary culprit in raising blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. “Glycemic index” and “glycemic load” are terms used to measure the impact some foods have on your blood sugar levels. Low glycemic foods, for example complex carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, steal cut oatmeal, vegetables, some fruits , beans, and lentils don’t raise blood sugar levels very much. However, high glycemic foods for example, sugar, white flour and bread, cookies, pastries, and white potatoes can raise blood sugar levels dangerously high.
Also Check: Weight Requirement For Blood Donation
Summary Of My Weight Balancing Plan
Good luck balancing your blood sugar! You may miss the initial hit that a cup of coffee or candy bar gives you, but you will have newfound sustained energy and clarity of mind. Balancing our blood sugar, whether it is too high or too low, is one of the most important things we can do for our health and longevity.
How Often Should I Check My Blood Sugar
Not everyone with type 2 diabetes needs to check their own blood glucose – it’s usually recommended only if you’re taking sulfonylurea tablets or insulin injections. Obviously you still need to attend for regular diabetes checks, where your blood sugar and HbA1c will be monitored. HbA1c is a measure of your average blood glucose control over the last three months.
If you have type 1 diabetes, you should always check your blood sugar regularly. Your doctor or nurse will usually recommend that you check at least four times a day, including before each meal and before bed, even if you’re not driving.
If you’re driving and taking insulin or other medication that could cause hypos, the DVLA recommends that you should check your blood glucose less than two hours before you start driving and every two hours while you are driving.
Read Also: Low Blood Sugar Blurry Vision
What Is Low Blood Sugar
A blood sugar level less than 70mg/dl is considered as low, or in other terms, hypoglycemia.
As glucose is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver, it can be released into the blood during low blood sugar levels. Despite our bodys steady requirements of glucose, it is stored in very small quantities for consumption during sleep, strenuous exercise, or prolonged fasting periods.
Our brain requires glucose as its primary source of fuel but can utilize ketone bodies when its glucose reserves are depleted. The liver can produce ketone bodies from fats which the brain can utilize during limited glucose reserves or hypoglycemia.
Causes Of Low Blood Glucose
Low blood glucose is common for people with type 1 diabetes and can occur in people with type 2 diabetes taking insulin or certain medications. The average person with type 1 diabetes may experience up to two episodes of mild low blood glucose each week, and thats only counting episodes with symptoms. If you add in lows without symptoms and the ones that happen overnight, the number would likely be higher.
Don’t Miss: Can Low Blood Sugar Cause Migraine
Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
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:
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.
What Are High And Low Blood Sugar Levels
Low Blood Sugar Levels
Low blood sugar levels or hypoglycemia occur when there are low glucose levels in the blood, which makes it difficult for the body to function normally.
Low blood sugar causes primarily include diabetes-related side effects. But could also be due to:
- Eating less after taking diabetes medication
- Exercising more than normal
- Rare chances of tumor which produces extra insulin
- Endocrine disorders
Effects of low blood sugar levels include both short-term complications such as confusion, dizziness etc, and long-term complications like coma or even death.
If your blood sugar is below 70 mg/dL, you should treat yourself right away.
High Blood Sugar Levels
High blood sugar levels or hyperglycemia occur when people have high blood sugar levels in their bloodstream.
- Blood glucose levels higher than 7.0 mmol/L when fasting.
- Blood glucose levels higher than 11.0 mmol/L 2 hours after meals.
Causes of Hyperglycemia include:
- Inadequate usage of insulin or diabetes medication
- Not eating a proper diabetes diet
- Having an infection or illness
Short term effects of hyperglycemia include nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, dry mouth, among others. Long term effects of hyperglycemia include cardiovascular diseases, nerve damage, kidney damage, blindness, etc.
Recommended Reading: Facts About Red Blood Cells
The Danger Of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can become a lot more dangerous more quickly. Hypoglycemia, if left untreated, can quickly result in diabetic coma and death.
Low blood sugars will not lead to permanent complications in most cases but cause frequent, short-term complications in the form of being physically unable to function when experiencing a low. They require fast-acting glucose as treatment.
Symptoms of low blood sugar can hit different people at different times, and some people may not feel their low blood sugars at all , which can be very dangerous.
Continuous glucose monitoring systems and diabetes alert dogs can help people detect their lows earlier, before they become extremely dangerous.
Hypo unawareness occurs in about 40% of people with type 1 diabetes, and less frequently in people with type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, one study showed that the average person with type 1 diabetes experiences two episodes of low blood sugar per week!
Low blood sugars can happen for many reasons, all of which result from too much insulin in the bloodstream and not enough glucose for the body to function properly.
Reasons can be anything from taking too much insulin for food, to accidentally over-bolusing with an insulin pump, to not finishing a meal, to drinking alcohol in excess, or even after physical exertion and exercise while not reducing basal insulin settings appropriately.
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.
Read Also: How Much To Get Blood Work Done
How Can I Prevent Hypoglycemic Episodes
The key to preventing hypoglycemic events is managing diabetes:
- Follow your healthcare providers instructions about food and exercise.
- Track your blood sugar regularly, including before and after meals, before and after exercise and before bed.
- Take all your medications exactly as prescribed.
- When you do have a hypoglycemic event, write it down. Include details such as the time, what you ate recently, whether you exercised, the symptoms and your glucose level.
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
If you don’t eat enough or don’t eat at all and you drink an excessive amount of alcohol, especially over the course of a few days, you may become hypoglycemic.
The combination of too much alcohol and a lack of food can stop your liver from putting glucose into your blood, causing your blood sugar level to crash.
Recommended Reading: Uti With Blood In Urine
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.
Which One Is More Dangerous
The brain cells stop working without glucose, thus making hypoglycaemia more dangerous than hyperglycaemia & it needs immediate intervention. A person with diabetes must always carry sugar sachets/ glucose tablets with him all the time for immediate response. Also, a band may be tied on one’s wrist to signify that person has diabetes. This can help in an emergency, says Madhuparna Pramanick, BeatO Health Coach
Some people are afraid of low blood sugar levels, while others are afraid of high blood sugar levels. If the range is not normal, it is dangerous regardless of whether you have low or high blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar symptoms are severe because they act as an emergency alarm that our bodies generate to help save ourselves. Low blood glucose levels in the absence of ketones can be fatal. High blood sugar levels cause long-term vascular damage, and the presence of high levels of ketones can potentially cause severe ketoacidosis.
Recommended Reading: What Birth Control Is Best For High Blood Pressure
What Are The Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
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 .