Hypoglycemia, or low blood
sugar, is most common in people who have
diabetes. If you have already been diagnosed with
diabetes and need more information about low blood sugar, see the
Type 1 Diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes.
What is low blood sugar?
You may have briefly felt the effects of low blood sugar when you've gotten really hungry or exercised hard without eating enough. This happens to nearly everyone from time to time. It's easy to correct and usually nothing to worry about.
What kind of exercise is safe -- and fun -- if you have nerve damage from diabetes, called diabetic neuropathy? And how can you stay motivated after that first flush of inspiration fades?
"It depends on where you're starting," says Dace L. Trence, MD, an endocrinologist and director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. "For the person who has been doing nothing, you would certainly want to start doing something that's comfortable and enjoyable and...
But low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can also be an ongoing problem. It occurs when the level of sugar in your blood drops too low to give your body energy.
What causes hypoglycemia in people who don't have diabetes?
Ongoing problems with low blood sugar can be caused by:
Diseases of the liver, kidneys, or pancreas.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can be
different depending on how low your blood sugar level drops.
Mild hypoglycemia can
make you feel hungry or like you want to vomit. You could also feel jittery or
nervous. Your heart may beat fast. You may sweat. Or your skin might turn cold
Moderate hypoglycemia often
makes people feel short-tempered, nervous, afraid, or confused. Your vision may
blur. You could also feel unsteady or have trouble walking.
Severe hypoglycemia can cause you to pass out. You could have
seizures. It could even cause a coma or death.
If you've had hypoglycemia during the night, you may wake
up tired or with a headache. And you may have nightmares. Or you may sweat so
much during the night that your pajamas or sheets are damp when you wake up.
How is hypoglycemia diagnosed?
hypoglycemia, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions about
your health and any medicines you take. You will need tests to check your blood sugar levels.
You may also need tests to look for or rule out health problems that could be affecting your blood sugar levels.
How is it treated?
You can treat a sudden episode of
low blood sugar by eating or drinking something with sugar in it. Some examples of "quick-sugar foods" are fruit juice, soda, milk, raisins, and hard candy. You may also take glucose
tablets. This is usually all
that's needed to get your blood sugar level back up in the short term.
If your hypoglycemia is caused by a longer-term health problem, you may need treatment for that condition. There also may be steps you can take to avoid low blood sugar. For example, talk to your doctor about whether changes in your diet, medicines, or exercise habits might help.
What should you do in an emergency?
If mild or
moderate hypoglycemia isn't treated right away, it can turn into severe
hypoglycemia. People with severe hypoglycemia usually pass out. If you pass
out, someone should call911right away.
If you have a health problem that tends to cause low blood sugar, it’s a good idea to
teach your family, friends, and coworkers about what symptoms to watch for and what to do. You may also want to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.
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Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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