Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is common among people with diabetes and can occur even when you’re carefully managing the condition.
Hypoglycemia happens when the amount of blood glucose (sugar in the blood) drops to a level that’s too low to sustain normal functioning; in most people, this is defined as a blood-sugar level below 70 mg/dl.
A study review in June 2015 found that among those with type 2 diabetes, this is a far too common occurrence: individuals had an average of 19 mild episodes of hypoglycemia a year, and nearly one severe episode per year on average. Low blood sugar was particularly common among those taking insulin.
Signs you have low sugar
1. Ravenous hunger: If you’ve already eaten but still aren’t satisfied, or if you suddenly, inexplicably feel as if you’re starving, your body is signaling that it needs more glucose — preferably 15 grams from a carbohydrate-rich food source.
2. Feelings of anxiety: When glucose levels fall too low, your body tells the adrenal glands to release the hormone ephinephrine (also called adrenaline), which signals the liver to make more sugar. The excess ephinephrine creates an “adrenaline rush,” which can make you feel anxious.
3. Restless nights: Nocturnal hypoglycemia, which is very common, can cause a number of sleep disturbances. Symptoms include night sweats, nightmares, episodes of waking suddenly and crying out and feelings of unrest and confusion upon waking. A snack before bed can reduce the frequency and severity of sleep disturbances.
4. Shakes and tremors: The central nervous system starts to malfunction when glucose levels are off balance. As a result, it releases catecholamines: chemicals that encourage glucose production and also produce these symptoms.
5. Emotional instability: Mood swings and sudden emotional episodes not typical of your normal behaviour are among the neurological symptoms of hypoglycemia, including irrational outbursts, random or hysterical crying, uncontrollable anger, and a strong desire to be left alone. Mild mood changes that may not be as severe, such as general irritability or becoming easily annoyed, can also be a signal that your blood sugar may be dropping.
6. Sweating: This symptom is controlled by the autonomic nervous system (the part of the central nervous system that governs the skin, among other things) and is usually one of the first signs of hypoglycemia. The excessive perspiration comes on without warning, regardless of how warm or cold the external temperature may be.
7. Dizziness and light-headedness: If you experience these common symptoms of hypoglycemia, heed them and treat the hypoglycemia quickly. Dropping blood sugar levels can also cause you to faint. So, if you feel yourself start to swoon, sit or lie down immediately to avoid being injured.
8. Wandering thoughts: Because the brain is especially sensitive to a drop in glucose, you may experience a sense of confusion and an inability to concentrate on one thing at a time.
9. Vision problems: If your vision suddenly become blurry or you see double, a drop in blood sugar may be the problem.
10. Slurred speech: Your sugar-starved brain may not allow you to detect a change in how you sound, but others will notice a difference. To someone else, you may sound as though you’ve had a few too many cocktails — even though you haven’t touched a drop.
Facts about low sugar
Very low blood sugar levels can cause severe symptoms that need to be treated right away.
Hypoglycemia happens when the amount of blood glucose (sugar in the blood) drops to a level that’s too low to sustain normal functioning; in most people, this is defined as a blood-sugar level below 70 mg/dl. … Low blood sugar was particularly common among those taking insulin.
Taking too much medication, skipping meals, eating less than normal or exercising more than usual can lead to low blood sugar for these individuals. Blood sugar is also known as glucose. Your blood sugar is considered low when it drops below 70 mg/dL.
When low sugar is left untreated, it can lead to a coma and even death.
To prevent hypoglycemia and its dangerous side effects, it’s crucial to monitor your glucose levels and treat low blood sugar as soon as you become aware of it.
How to treat Low blood sugar
Eat 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrate (sample foods listed below)
Wait 15 minutes and then recheck your blood sugar.
If your blood sugar is still less than 100 mg/dl, take another 15 grams of carbohydrate and retest your blood sugar in another 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary.