Warning Signs Of Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia can cause both short- and long-term complications. Know the signs so that you can treat the condition as soon as you’re aware of it.
As a person living with diabetes, you know how important it is to reduce blood sugar when it is too high, a phenomenon called hyperglycemia. But blood sugar that is too low, or hypoglycemia, is equally critical to avoid.
“Hypoglycemia happens when the amount of blood glucose drops to a level that’s too low to sustain normal functioning,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, who is based in Sparta, New Jersey. “In most people, this is defined as a blood sugar level at or below 70 milligrams per deciliter .”
Hypoglycemia is common among people with type 2 diabetes, according to a review published in June 2015 in the journal PLoS One. Individuals with the condition had an average of 19 mild or moderate episodes of hypoglycemia per year and nearly one severe episode per year on average, according to the researchers. Low blood sugar was particularly common among those taking insulin.
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This decrease in blood sugar levels can cause both short-term complications, like confusion and dizziness, as well as more serious issues, including seizures, coma, and, rarely, death, according to the American Diabetes Association .
Hypoglycemia is usually the result of a too-high dose of insulin or a change in diet or exercise habits, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
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.
When To Contact Your Doctor
Contact a doctor if youre experiencing frequent diarrhea. Theyll look at your health profile and assess your blood sugar levels. They may also perform a brief physical exam to help rule out any other medical conditions.
Before you start a new medication or another treatment regimen, your doctor will want to be sure youre not experiencing any other gastrointestinal issues.
- taking loperamide before meals to manage symptoms
- taking clonidine to regulate bowel movements and reduce spasms
- taking amitriptyline to reduce cramping and slow digestion
- practicing pelvic floor training, and possibly getting a colostomy, for people with fecal incontinence
Depending on their assessment, your doctor may refer you to a gut specialist called a gastroenterologist for further investigation.
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What Does Diabetes Affect
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A What Is A Normal Blood Sugar Level new study adds to the evidence that people with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of a poor outcome should they become infected with the virus that causes COVID 19.
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What Should You Eat If You Have Diarrhea With Diabetes
If you have diarrhea with diabetes, avoid artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol, to see whether it helps. Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, can prevent dehydration from diarrhea.
Some research suggests the probiotics Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium may help, too, but more studies are needed to confirm this.
Ask a doctor before making any major dietary changes. They can make sure doing so wont interfere with other treatments or worsen other symptoms.
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When Should You Consult A Doctor For Dizziness
Generally, an occasional dizzy spell that goes away quickly on its own is not a source of concern.
But if bouts of dizziness become a regular experience or dont go away easily, you may need to consult with your doctor or healthcare team.
Persistent dizziness can indicate a serious health concern, including cardiovascular disease and circulatory conditions.
Dizziness can also cause you to fall, leading to injury or accidents. Injuries caused by dizziness can lead to additional negative health effects, according to
Complications Of Type 2 Diabetes
Itâs important to get your blood sugar under control to avoid these serious conditions:
- Hypoglycemia. If your blood sugar falls below 70 milligrams per deciliter , it can lead to accidents, coma, and death.
- Hyperglycemia. Blood sugar that goes above 180 to 200 mg/dL can give you heart, nerve, kidney, and vision problems. Over the long term, it also can cause coma and death.
Over time, people with type 2 diabetes may have other health problems:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis. When you donât have enough insulin in your system, your blood sugar rises, and your body breaks down fat for energy. Toxic acids called ketones build up and spill into your urine. It can cause coma and death if you donât treat it.
- Heartand blood vessel diseases. People with diabetes are more likely to have conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which play a role in heart disease. Also, high blood sugar can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart.
- High blood pressure. Diabetes doubles your risk of high blood pressure, which makes you more likely to have heart disease or stroke.
- Nerve damage . This can cause tingling and numbness, most often in your feet and legs. But it can also affect your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels, and heart.
- Eyedamage. Diabetes can cause:
- Glaucoma, a buildup of pressure in your eyes
- Cataracts, a cloudiness of your lens
- Retinopathy, which is damage to the blood vessels in your eyes
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What Are Normal Blood Sugar Ranges
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This system is the most accurate method for calculating insulin to food intake.
Veterinarians commonly adjust the insulin dose based on a blood glucose curve.
What Is Diabetic Rage
Whats sometimes called diabetic rage can be dangerous, because it may involve behaviors a person isnt consciously aware of. Physiologically, when someones blood sugar fluctuates, spikes, or drops, it can produce feelings of anger, anxiety, or depression that are out of the control of the person experiencing them.
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Nighttime Low Blood Sugar
While low blood sugar can happen at any time during the day, some people may experience low blood sugar while they sleep. Reasons this may happen include:
- Having an active day.
- Being physically active close to bedtime.
- Taking too much insulin.
- Drinking alcohol at night.
Eating regular meals and not skipping them can help you avoid nighttime low blood sugar. Eating when you drink alcohol can also help. If you think youre at risk for low blood sugar overnight, have a snack before bed.
You may wake up when you have low blood sugar, but you shouldnt rely on that. A continuous glucose monitor can alert you with an alarm if your blood sugar gets low while youre sleeping.
What Is The Danger Zone For A1c
Studies show a direct correlation between high A1C and severe diabetes complications. 3 An A1C level above 7% means someone is at an increased risk of complications from diabetes, which should prompt a person to make sure they have a plan in place to manage their blood sugar levels and decrease this risk.
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Low Or High Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar occurs when your blood glucose drops below your target range. This usually happens at less than 70 mg/dl, but everyones range is different. It is best to talk to your healthcare provider about what is healthy for you. Often, when you experience low blood sugar, you will need to take action to fix it quickly.
Heart Attack And Stroke
For people with diabetes, shortness of breath can be an indication of heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death for people living with diabetes, who are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who don’t have the condition.
People living with diabetes, even with careful monitoring, can have times when their blood glucose levels are elevated. Over time, these elevated levels of blood glucose can cause damage to the network of blood vessels and nerves throughout the body, especially the delicate blood vessels and nerves around the heart.
Shortness of breath may be one of the first signs of a heart attack or stroke. Other symptoms people may experience include:
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, chest, upper abdomen, or back
- Droopy eyelid or smile on one side of the face
Any of these symptoms should be evaluated immediately. Your healthcare provider will perform a complete physical exam, including a blood pressure reading, and will likely order lab tests to review your cholesterol levels and blood sugar, like a hemoglobin A1C test.
They may recommend prescription medications to manage your diabetes and prevent heart disease complications, such as heart failure.
Seeing a healthcare provider regularly is important, even if you don’t have symptoms, because of the higher risk of heart attacks and strokes for people living with diabetes.
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When Dizziness Could Be An Early Sign Of Type 2 Diabetes
Symptoms of type-2 diabetes appear slowly, so it becomes important to know the early signs of the condition to minimize your risk of developing type 2 diabetes at the initial stages.
According to experts, dizziness or a dizzy spell isnt a problem you should ignore. It affects people differently, sometimes can make you feel like you are spinning, light-headed, imbalanced, woozy, or it can cause a floating or rocking sensation.
Its common to feel light-headed when you stand too quickly from lying down or sitting, and after exercise.
It is known as orthostatic hypotension or postural hypotension a form of low blood pressure that happens when you stand up from sitting or lying down.
But according to exercise physiologist Michael Crawford, common endocrine disorders like diabetes can also cause dizziness.
The Global Diabetes Community also admits that dizziness or dizzy spells are a common early sign of type 2 diabetes.
Feeling unsteady and unbalanced could be due to low blood pressure, as the heart struggles to sufficiently pump blood to the brain.
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How To Treat Hypoglycemia
For people with diabetes, its advisable to try the following when experiencing low blood sugars that may or may not be causing dizziness:
- Treat the hypoglycemia by bringing glucose levels up: A standard response is to use the rule of 15. Eat or drink 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates . Then wait 15 minutes to check your glucose levels again. Repeat as needed until glucose levels are above 70 mg/dL.
When glucose levels are extremely low or dont respond to the 15-15 treatment, a dose of glucagon may be needed. If glucose levels dont respond to glucagon or no glucagon kit is available, you may need medical attention.
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Type 2 Diabetes In Children
Type 2 was once called adult-onset diabetes because it was rare in children and teens. But it has become more common since the mid-1990s, in large part because more young people are overweight or obese, a risk factor for the disease.
Children are also at higher risk of type 2 diabetes if they donât get enough exercise or if they have a close relative with the condition. African American, Hispanic, Native American, Alaska Native, Asian American, and Pacific Islander children are more likely to get it.
Slurred Speech And Clumsiness
Your sugar-starved brain may change the way you sound. Slurred speech is a common symptom associated with blood sugar levels that drop below 40 mg/dL, according to University of Michigan Health Systems. Combined with clumsiness another sign of low blood sugar you may seem as though you’ve had a few too many cocktails, even if you haven’t touched a drop, according to the National Health Service.
For more on managing low blood sugar, check out Diabetes Daily’s article “How to Treat Lows Without Sabotaging Your Diet!“
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What Food Lowers Blood Sugar Fast
Some of the foods that help keep your blood sugar levels in the healthy range include:
- Vegetables: Green peas. Onions. Lettuce.
- Certain fruits: Apples. Pears. Plum.
- Whole or minimally processed grains: Barley. Whole wheat. Oat bran and rice bran cereals.
- Dairy and dairy-substitute products: Plain yogurt. Cheese. Cottage cheese.
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When To Call Your Doctor
Let them know if you have any of the common symptoms of type 2 diabetes or if you have questions about type 2 diabetes. It’s important to get tested and start treatment early to prevent serious complications.
American Diabetes Association: “Diabetes Symptoms,” âEye Complications,â âDiabetes and Hearing Loss,â âKidney Disease ,â âSkin Complications.â
American College of Endocrinology: “Position statement on inpatient diabetes and metabolic control.”
Physicians Desk Reference : ”Diabetes – Type 2 Symptoms.”
Mayo Clinic: âDiabetes symptoms: When diabetes symptoms are a concern,â âDiabetic hypoglycemia,â âDiabetic neuropathy,â âHyperglycemia in diabetes,â âType 2 diabetes.â
Annals of Medical and Health Sciences Research: âXerostomia Due to Systemic Disease: A Review of 20 Conditions and Mechanisms.â
Evidence-Based Diabetes Management: âThe Persistent Complication of Hypoglycemia in Diabetics.â
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: âDiabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke,â âType 2 Diabetes.â
Johns Hopkins Medicine: âDiabetes and High Blood Pressure.â
What Is Hyperglycemia And What Causes Hyperglycemia
Hyperglycemia is defined as high blood glucose levels. This develops when the body has far too much sugar in the blood and hence does not produce enough insulin to disperse the necessary quantity of glucose in the blood.
Many diabetics suffer from hyperglycemia. It happens when a person with diabetes of type 1 is unable to create enough insulin via the pancreas. Because the body may be resistant to insulin, a person with type 2 diabetes isnt producing enough natural insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. This is one of the contributing factors for diabetes dizziness.
If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to a variety of complications. Among the potential complications are:
- Blood vessel damage
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