What is hypoglycaemia/low blood sugar?
Low blood sugar is a condition that can cause symptoms ranging from increased unexplained sweating and feeling hungry to becoming unconscious. Low blood sugar, which is also called “hypoglycemia,” happens when the level of sugar in a person’s blood gets too low.
Low blood sugar can happen in people with diabetes who take certain diabetes medicines, including insulin.
When can people with diabetes get low blood sugar?
People with diabetes can get low blood sugar when they:
- Take too much medicine, including insulin or certain diabetes pills
- Do not eat enough food especially after taking their medications
- Exercise too much without eating a snack or reducing their insulin dose
- Wait too long between meals
- Drink too much alcohol
Acute illness can also lead to low sugars
When do you call that blood sugar is low?
Patients with diabetes start getting symptoms of hypoglycemia when the sugar levels drop below 70 mg/dl, but this can vary widely from person to person.
What are the symptoms of low blood sugar?
The symptoms of low blood sugar can be different from person to person and can change over time. During the early stages of low blood sugar, a person can have :
- Sweating and tremors
- Feel hungry
- Feel anxious
IF very low then severe symptoms can occur. These can include:
- Difficulty walking or feeling weak
- Trouble seeing clearly
- Being confused or acting in a strange way
- Unconsciousness or having a seizure/fits
Some symptoms of hypoglycemia during sleep are
- crying out or having nightmares
- sweating enough to make your pajamas or sheets damp
- feeling tired, irritable, increased hunger or confused after waking u
I don’t get symptoms when I have low sugars?
Some people do not get symptoms during the early stages of low blood sugar. We call this “hypoglycemia unawareness.” People with hypoglycemia unawareness are more likely to have severe symptoms, because they might not know that they have low blood sugar until they have severe symptoms. Hypoglycemia unawareness often occurs in people who:
- Have had type 1 diabetes for more than 5 to 10 years
- Use insulin to keep their blood sugar level under tight control
- Drink a lot of alcohol
How is low blood sugar treated?
Low blood sugar can be treated with:
If your blood glucose level is below your target or less than 70, eat or drink 15 grams of carbohydrates right away in the form of:
- 4 Glucose tablets or 1 glucose gel
- 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup
- 1/2 cup of fruit juice—not low-calorie or reduced sugar*
- 1/2 can (4 to 6 ounces) of soda—not low-calorie or reduced sugar
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
Wait 15 minutes and check your blood glucose again. If your glucose level is still low, eat or drink another 15 grams of glucose or carbohydrates.
Check your blood glucose again after another 15 minutes. Repeat these steps until your glucose level is back to normal.
If your next meal is more than 1 hour away, have a snack to keep your blood glucose level in your target range. Try biscuits or a piece of fruit.
*People who have kidney disease shouldn’t drink orange juice for their 15 grams of carbohydrates because it contains a lot of potassium. Apple, grape, or cranberry juice are good options.
What should I do after treatment?
Inform your doctor as he might change the dose of your diabetes medicine.
How can I prevent low blood sugar?
The best way to prevent low blood sugar is to:
- Check your blood sugar levels often – Your doctor will tell you how and when to check your blood sugar levels at home. He or she will also tell you what your blood sugar levels should be, and when to treat low blood sugar.
- Learn the symptoms of low blood sugar and be ready to treat it in the early stages. Treating low blood sugar early can prevent severe symptoms.
When should I go to a hospital or call for an ambulance?
A family member or friend should take you to a hospital or call for an ambulance if you:
- Have passed out .
- Still have low blood sugar after treatment
If you have low blood sugar, do not try to drive yourself to the hospital. Driving with low blood sugar can be dangerous.