What is low blood sugar?
Low blood sugar is known as hypoglycemia. This condition commonly affects diabetes patients but it can also affect people who do not have the disease.
Hypoglycemia is typically a condition that requires immediate treatment. If left untreated, it can end up being fatal.
Typically for diabetic patients, blood sugar lower than 70 mg/dL is considered to be low. Whereas among people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels below 55 mg/dL are considered to be low.
What are the symptoms of low blood sugar?
Symptoms of low blood sugar can vary from person to person and can also change with each experience or episode of low blood sugar.
Symptoms of low blood sugar can be utterly unpleasant, and treating the condition on time is crucial.
Following are some common signs of hypoglycemia:
- Faster heart rate
- Shaking and trembling
- Anxiety and irritation.
- Skin appearing pale
- Experiencing numbness in your tongue, lips, or cheeks.
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
- Increase in heart rate
- Sweating profusely or experiencing chills.
- Feeling extremely hungry.
Certain signs of severe hypoglycemia are as follows:
- Blurry vision
- Experiencing speech slurs
- Finding coordination difficult
- Having seizures
- Loss of consciousness
Severe hypoglycemia is a fatal condition and it requires immediate medical attention. At times, If the case is too severe, it can result in a coma or death.
This however is rare. Experiencing low blood sugar while being asleep is also possible. This condition is called nocturnal hypoglycemia.
Here are some of the symptoms:
- Restless sleep.
- Sweating profusely.
- Crying while asleep.
- Feeling disoriented or tired after you wake up.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms before treating the condition, you must test your blood sugar balance and get a confirmation.
What should you eat to stabilize your blood sugar level?
Once you are sure that your blood sugar is low you should provide your body with fast-acting carbohydrates which are simple sugars that possess low fiber.
Avoidance of high-fat foods is another step to take. Most commonly, low blood sugar levels are treated using the best blood sugar support supplements or glucose gel.
The 15-15 rule:
This rule is for you if your blood sugar ranges between 55-69 mg/dL. The rule is simple, you have to consume 15 grams of carbohydrate and check your blood after 15 minutes of consumption.
If the level is still low after 15 minutes, repeat the steps until your blood sugar balance is efficiently stabilized.
After stabilization make sure you consume a nutritious meal or snack to avoid it from getting low again.
Items that contain 15 grams of carbs:
- Half a cup of soda or juice.
- A tablespoon of honey, syrup, or sugar.
- Hard candies, gumdrops, or jellybeans.
- A couple of glucose tablets or glucose gel.
Make sure you give the treatment time to work. Children may need less than 15 grams of carbs. In case you are treating young children or infants, ask a medical professional about what quantity your child needs.
Avoid fatty carbs such as chocolate and also avoid fiber-rich carbs such as lentils and beans.
Treating extremely or severely low blood sugar:
Blood sugar below 55 mg/dL Is severely low. The 15-15 rule will not work in this scenario. You may be unable to treat severe low blood pressure on your own and may require the assistance of friends or family.
The best treatment for severely low levels is injectable Glucagon. Glucagon kit can be purchased only when it is prescribed. So to determine whether you should purchase it, contact your doctor.
Let your dear ones know how to use this kit and make sure they know where it is kept.
After receiving the injection the patient must be taken to a doctor for immediate treatment.
If the person has fainted, they may awaken 15 minutes after receiving the injection and if they do not wake up they should be injected with one more dose.
On awakening feed the person a fast-acting sugar source such as juice or soft drink. Then give them a long-acting source of sugar such as cheese and crackers, or a meat sandwich.
When should an emergency number be dialed?
- If the patient faints and glucagon are unavailable.
- When an additional glucagon dose is required.
- If the patient’s blood sugar is extremely low 20 minutes after the treatment.
Natural foods you can use to treat low blood sugar
If blood sugar is 70-80 mg/dL
- Crackers and peanut butter
If blood sugar is 55-70 mg/dL
- Bananas, raisins, grapes, pineapple, applesauce, and Medjool dates.
These fruits possess high proportions of naturally occurring sugars and contain minimum fiber, making them quick and effective solutions for low blood sugar.
If blood sugar is lower than 55 mg/dL
- Grape juice, maple, or honey.
Grape juice is carbohydrate-rich. Since chewing while blood sugar is this low is difficult, consuming juice and honey may be easier.
Whether to treat yourself using natural foods that lower blood sugar levels or with other options should be determined by your doctor. Before implementing any method, consult a medical professional first.
Complications associated with low blood sugar
If severe hypoglycemia is left untreated for a long duration, you can face the following complications:
- Organ failure
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Irreversible brain damage.
Performing tasks like lifting heavy equipment or driving while you have a low blood sugar level, can be highly risky.
To avoid complications and accidents you must check your blood sugar before engaging in such activities.
Causes of hypoglycemia in diabetics:
Diabetics usually face low blood sugar when they do not take some medications as prescribed or when food and exercise regimes go haywire.
The following can be the causes of hypoglycemia:
- When your body has too much insulin, the wrong insulin is used, or insulin is accidentally injected into your muscle instead of your fat tissue.
Not taking insulin at the correct time or having an inconsistent carb intake.
- Too high or too low consumption of medication.
- Drinking alcohol while drinking little to no water.
- Messed up meal times and skipped meals.
- Eating unbalanced meals.
Causes of hypoglycemia in non-diabetics:
- Reactive hypoglycemia is a type that affects an individual 2 to 4 hours after having a meal. Eating certain foods can cause a sudden spike followed by a sudden dip in blood sugar.
Foods like white rice, potatoes, cake, pastries, and white bread can have such an effect. Sugar is absorbed by your body at a faster pace after undergoing bariatric surgery.
Your body can resolve reactive hypoglycemia on its own. Consuming carbohydrates can speed up the process.
- Fasting hypoglycemia can be caused by:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Critical illnesses such as liver failure or liver disease
- Adrenal insufficiency.
Although you may eat everything as advised, some people are allergic to some foods.
Make sure you maintain a log or journal to understand what suits you best when you have low blood sugar. To fight the condition, you must consult a doctor or take preventive measures.