What are the signs of low blood sugar?
Most people fail at catching symptoms of low blood sugar because they don’t know what exactly the signs are. Low blood sugar means you have hypoglycemia. It is a dangerous condition where the patient immediately starts to feel uneasy and requires the attention of a medical expert.
Here are the 10 biggest signs of low blood sugar
- excessive thirst
- mild confusion
- heartbeat gets super fast
- excessive sweating
- vision gets blurry
- hunger and nausea
- frequent headaches
- trouble sleeping
- dry mouth
But knowing these signs is not enough…
In our daily lives, we actually refer to blood sugar as glucose. We get glucose from the food we eat and produce energy in the body required to carry normal tasks. Almost all foods have some form of carbohydrates- the main ingredient responsible for providing glucose to the body.
For people with diabetes, the normal blood sugar level is considered 70 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). These numbers can vary from one individual to another, so its best to visit your local physician if you have felt any of the above symptoms.
If people with very low blood sugar do not immediately react to it, it could lead to severe consequences like fainting, coma, or even a seizure.
Treatment for Hypoglycemia?
If you have severe hypoglycemia, then you probably can’t treat it on your own. In most cases, doctors might suggest keeping a glucagon kit handy at home & your workplace. You can teach your friends, family or colleagues how to use it in case of emergencies. Do consult your doctor before getting one.
Home Treatment for Low Blood Sugar
Certain simple to digest carbohydrates can do wonders in case the blood sugar levels drop below normal than expected. About 15 gms of one of them can help normalize the situation in case you don’t have access to a doctor nearby.
These items should be stocked up at home and consumed in case of an emergency:
- any juice (half cup)
- any soda (half cup)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3-4 soda crackers
- 2-3 sugary candies
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
This should help stabilize the blood sugar levels and bring them to a normal state. However, if there’s still no improvement, immediately call emergency services or seek professional help from a doctor.
Self Diagnosing Low Blood Sugar
Glucometer (Blood Glucose Meter)
The slightest suspicion of low blood sugar means you need to immediately check your blood sugar levels. A blood glucose meter or a glucometer should be in every diabetic’s house. It is extremely simple to use and it may help prevent an emergency.
Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor might suggest you take note of the readings from the glucometer every day after certain periods or activities like taking the test after or before meals, taking the test as soon as you wake up etc.
To self conduct the blood sugar test, you need to prick your finger with a needle (lancet) that comes with the kit. A small sample from the blood is put on a strip that is put inside the glucometer to give accurate readings.
One of the simplest ways how your blood sugar levels are working, get about 15 gms of carbs from one of the eatables mentioned above, take a reading and note it down. Test again after 15 minutes.
If you still don’t see a spike in the levels, take another 15 gms. of carbs and check again before hitting up your doctor.
Whipple’s Triad For Diagnosis of Low Blood Sugar
Whipple’s triad gets its name from the three criteria used for checking low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. According to this, if a glucometer shows a reading of 50 mg/dL, its sure short signs of hypoglycemia. If you’re not diabetic and the meter still shows a similar reading, it is advised you get a regular check-up done at a clinic.
Whipple’s triad is actually used to check the possibility of the occurrence of insulinoma.
The three criteria used in Whipple triad are:
- Checking for low blood sugar symptoms: Your doctor might ask you to abstain from eating or drink for long periods of time to study your low blood sugar symptoms more closely.
- Recording your low blood sugar levels: When the signs & symptoms occur, your doctor might perform a blood test and note down the readings for further in analysis in his lab.
- Change on increase of blood sugar levels: The doctor will check what happens to the signs & symptoms when the blood sugar levels are raised.
How To Treat Low Blood Sugar Levels
Now that you have a fundamental understanding of how to deal with low blood sugar levels, we can take a look at some of the other methods of treating hypoglycemia the right way.
The one biggest answer is: get MORE carbohydrates. It is ideal to keep a high carb snack bar with you.
Quick Tip: No granola bars. They’re high in fiber & protein but not the best way to treat hypoglycemia.
According to ADA (American Diabetes Association), the recommended serving size of carbs is 15 gms. And you can try any of these options below:
- fresh fruits
- fruit juices
- soda (but limited quantity)
Glucose Tablets Are Best For Hypoglycemics
There are glucose tablets on the market and are actually much better than any of the above alternatives for one and one reason only. And that’s because of fats. If you’re low, then the best thing to do is actually just pop in one 2-3 glucose tablets (depending on their carbs content) to complete 15 gms of carbs for the necessary effect.
The body goes through what’s called the “pizza effect” where the fats mess with the absorption of carbohydrates properly in the body. Hence, not causing the desired effect on blood sugar levels.
If you have a CGM on you, you can monitor your levels continuously, eat a tablet and see how if it is causing a spike. If not, have another one and wait for 15 minutes before checking the level again.
Avoid overeating of any kind. It leads to blood sugar levels going higher than required.
A quick snack is a good idea if you’ve just had a low blood sugar episode.
Tips For Prevention of Hypoglycemia Attack
Here are some methods by which you can prevent blood sugar levels from falling:
Keeping a tab on your blood sugar level is the easiest way to make sure you’re not in danger. This is especially important if you’re into work that requires hard manual labor or intensive machinery related jobs like driving & operating heavy machinery.
Importance of Snacking
Usually, considered a poor habit, snacking in the case of people susceptible to fluctuations in blood sugar levels is a good one to have. We suggest you check your blood sugar levels before leaving home for long periods of time.
If the level reading shows 100 mg/dL then it is a good idea to have a snack before coming back home to have a fuller meal.
Also, keep some snacks & glucotabs handy? These small things alone will give you a boost in confidence no matter which part of the world you are in.
Remember, no granola bars.
Only hard candies, cookies, fruit juice, pretzels, etc. or glucose tablets.
Most physical activities or exercising, in general, can lead to a dip in the blood sugar levels. It’s best to eat a bar or two loaded with carbs before you dive straight into your daily physical regime.
In fact, physicians recommend snacking on carbohydrates DURING the workouts as well for those who work out harder and longer than 60 minutes of exercising.
Pay Attention To The Doctor
One piece of cautionary advice: don’t just make your own diet rules. Consult a doctor if hypoglycemia signs have shown up time and again. Once your diet chart is approved, you can fight like a real diabetes warrior….without stress.
Imagine if you and I, both diabetes patients, didn’t have to struggle so much to lower our blood sugar levels. Would that life not be a more relaxed one? My stress levels are continuously in check when I get an episode of hypoglycemia. I’ve tried using some online programs before and I must admit it helps. But I can’t say that for everyone.
These signals are just a wake-up call for those who might not have been living very consciously. And it’s sad that there are a ton of doctors out there who are prescribing all kinds of medication but not doing enough to cause awareness about the very roots of low blood sugar.