What Is Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia is common when your blood sugar (glucose) is lower than the established range of standard sugar levels. The body gets its energy mainly from glucose, so the bloodstream must have enough of it. Some people get hypoglycemia for genetic reasons or from skipping meals. It’s also a relatively common occurrence for those who have diabetes and are on treatment for it. It may also be related to other medications and certain other medical conditions.

When someone has an episode of hypoglycemia, it needs to be treated right away. In most people, checking their blood sugar can tell whether you have hypoglycemia. If your fasting blood sugar is at 70 mg/dL or is measured at 3.9 mmol/L or less, you likely have hypoglycemia. You can talk to your doctor about which numbers are correct for you. You may have different numbers that indicate this condition.

When someone gets this condition, they need to get their blood sugar higher as quickly as possible. To get it back into the standard range, people might drink or eat something high in sugar or take a medication that they’ve been given for the condition. To treat it long-term, patients need to identify what is causing the condition so that it might be avoided. Patients should also have a way of treating it readily available to them.

What Causes Hypoglycemia to Happen?

There are a lot of possible causes for developing hypoglycemia. You can get low glucose as a side effect when taking certain medications. If the medications work on the pancreas and cause it to release insulin, you may be especially at risk. When more insulin is released into the blood, it takes some of the glucose there and sends it away from the blood and into the tissues. Getting rid of too much of it can happen.

You can get hypoglycemia if you have diabetes and are taking sulfonylureas, a medication that raises insulin levels. You can also get it from taking meglitinides to increase your insulin levels at meal times. It’s essential to mention all medications you are taking to your prescriber (this includes Ozempic and Trulicity). With this knowledge, your prescriber can carefully asses you.

You can also have an episode if you don’t eat or drink carbohydrates in enough quantities. This is because eating or drinking things with carbs introduces carbs to your digestive system, breaking the starches and sugars down into glucose. This glucose goes into the bloodstream and causes your blood glucose level to rise. Too few carbs or skipping or delaying meals can mean your blood sugar falls out of the healthy range.

If you’re fasting, this can cause the condition as well. If you increase your level of physical activity, this can be another cause. While it’s healthy to get plenty of physical exercise, doing so can also cause your blood sugar levels to be lower for as long as 24 hours. Being sick can also cause the condition. When sick, they may not eat enough or cannot keep food down. Too little food can cause the blood sugar to plummet.

Alcohol use is another risk factor. If you drink a lot of alcohol and don’t eat much food, this makes it more difficult for your body to stay in control of your blood sugar levels. When you drink a lot without much food, the effects of the alcohol can also cause you not to notice the symptoms of hypoglycemia. This can mean that a severe event develops due to the condition not being treated when it started.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

There are a lot of symptoms that you may have when you’re developing this condition. You may start with some mild symptoms, but the symptoms soon worsen. Some of the common symptoms include looking paler than usual, sweating, nausea, being hungry, shakiness, headaches, fatigue, and a heartbeat that is too fast or irregular. You might also feel dizzy, anxious, lightheaded, have difficulty concentrating, become irritable, or have numbness or tingling on the tongue, lips, or cheek.

If the hypoglycemia episode continues, the symptoms can start getting worse. It can cause problems with coordination, nightmares, tunnel vision, blurred vision, confusion over simple things, and slurred speech. If hypoglycemia gets exceptionally severe, it can cause a loss of consciousness, leaving the person unresponsive. It can also cause them to have seizures.

It’s possible to have hypoglycemia in your sleep. If you’re having nightmares at night or crying out while asleep, these can be symptoms of it. If you wake up and find that you’ve sweated a lot and your clothing or sheets are damp, this can be another sign. Waking up to feeling confused, tired, or irritable can also be a symptom.

The exact symptoms that a person gets depend on a lot of factors. These include their physical health (if they are in shape or obese), medications taken, what they’ve eaten, and more.

Treating Low Blood Sugar

When you have a blood glucose level that isn’t in the healthy range, you need to have carbs or glucose right away. It generally requires about 15 to 20 grams of them to help combat hypoglycemia. You can get your carbs or glucose by eating one tube of glucose gel or four glucose tablets. It would also be half a cup of fruit juice. Make sure it isn’t a reduced-sugar type. You can also drink about half a can of a full-sugar soda. You can also eat a tablespoon of corn syrup, honey, or sugar.

Once you’ve taken one of these remedies, you can recheck your blood sugar after 15 minutes. If it’s still too low, you can repeat the process with the exact amounts of glucose or carbs. After this, recheck it and repeat the process if needed. Never assume that the symptoms will just go away. They tend to get worse as time passes.

If you’re on a diabetes medication that slows down your carb digestion so that your blood sugar won’t rise as quickly (such as Mounjaro or Victoza), you’ll need to use glucose gel or glucose tablets to bring the levels back up again. In these cases, taking in carbs by eating or drinking them won’t help the situation fast enough. Your doctor can also prescribe a glucagon kit for you so that you can treat a severe case of low blood glucose.

These can be a nasal spray or an injection that will raise the levels quickly.

Hypoglycemia is a condition caused by too little glucose or sugar in your blood. This can happen for many reasons, but it’s especially common in people with diabetes. Taking diabetes medications is a common cause of this condition because they’re made to lower blood sugar levels. If you ever have a about of hypoglycemia, you’ll need to have sugar or carbs handy to reverse the condition and bring your blood sugar up again. Be sure to also tell your doctor about these episodes in case they need to change something about your diabetes treatment.

Who Gets Low Blood Sugar?

Also called low blood glucose, it happens when the amount of sugar in your blood falls below a healthy level for you. Non-diabetics can get this condition, but it’s often diabetics who do. Diabetics who are on a diabetes medication like insulin could be at risk for this happening as their blood sugar drops because of the medication. If you are taking two diabetes medications at once, this can put you at higher risk.

This condition is prevalent in those who have type 1 diabetes and take medication to lower their blood glucose. An enormous study was done on those with diabetes who are located all around the world. The study showed that for those who had type 1 diabetes, about four out of every five patients had experienced a hypoglycemic event one or more times during four weeks. Among those with type 2 diabetes, the number was almost half of the patients.

Developing severe low blood sugar is a much rarer occurrence. The definition of a severe case of hypoglycemia is that the patient’s blood sugar gets low enough that they aren’t able to treat their condition. In the U.S., about 2 out of every 100 diabetic patients who take medication for the condition experienced a severe event. Whenever a patient has an extreme event, they must seek medical attention immediately.

People who have type 1 diabetes or are aged 65 and up are at a higher risk for developing hypoglycemia. It’s also more likely in patients who take a diabetes medication like insulin. If someone has had a low blood sugar event, they are more likely to have another one. Several health conditions can make hypoglycemia more likely. These include heart disease, kidney disease, and cognitive impairment.

How Can Diabetics
Prevent Low Blood Sugar?

If you have diabetes and take medication for it, there are several ways you can try to avoid having a hypoglycemic episode. It’s essential to regularly check your blood and pay attention to your blood sugar levels. A blood glucose meter can be used to do this. However, some people who get hypoglycemia regularly may need to use a continuous glucose monitor. These periodically check glucose levels and will alarm you if your blood glucose gets too low.

As a person with diabetes, it’s essential to eat a balanced diet that has enough carbs in it to keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. A plant-based diet may provide the right macronutrients for preventing hypoglycemia. Having a carb-heavy food or drink with you is a good idea to treat your hypoglycemia quickly once it starts. Having a bottle of juice or glucose tablets on hand can significantly help. If you drink alcohol, make sure that you eat some food with it to keep from experiencing the effects of low blood sugar.

Exercise with care. It’s essential to stay safe when you do physical activities because your blood sugar can drop while you do them. If you’re having some hypoglycemia events after exercising, it can help to take your blood glucose level before you get that exercise as well as afterward. This will allow you to adjust your carb intake and medicine to keep your blood sugar from dropping too low. You may need to eat a snack before you exercise to prevent the condition.

If you have hypoglycemic events, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about them. They can help you further with preventing new events from happening. They may need to adjust your medication or suggest that you get a continuous glucose monitor.

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