Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is a condition where in the body is unable to get enough glucose supply for proper cell functioning. In such a condition, the body responds with certain warning signs or symptoms of diabetes which may be different for every individual and include:
• Irritability or confusion
• Pale skin
The reasons why your blood sugar levels go down could be related to:
• Some medications
• Gap in between a meal and exercise
• Excessive stress
• Side effects of other medicines
• Alcohol intake, especially without eating food
In a person without diabetes, the pancreas will stop producing insulin if the blood glucose level falls below normal. In a person with diabetes, the insulin they inject or pump keeps working, even when the blood glucose level is low. In people with type 2 diabetes some of the diabetes medications help your body to make more insulin and if you take these medications without eating food, you can also have low blood glucose.
When your blood sugars decline and you haven’t eaten, have a snack before bedtime such as a protein or a more complex carbohydrate. Insulin dose may also need to be altered, based on assessment made by the doctor.
As soon as your sugar levels go down, eat or drink fast acting glucose –
• Three to four glucose tablets
• One tube of glucose gel
• Four to six pieces of hard candy (not sugar-free)
• 1/2 cup fruit juice
• 1 cup skim milk
• 1/2 cup soft drink (not sugar-free)
• 1 tablespoon honey (put it under your tongue so it gets absorbed into your bloodstream faster)
Whenever an incident of low blood sugar occurs, it is a good practice to record the time and date so that you can discuss the same with the doctor and if the doctor notices any pattern they can make the necessary changes in the medications.
Hypoglycemia also occurs due to excessive insulin administration, long gap between a rigorous exercise and a meal, or if the meal or snack is missed altogether. It is important to keep a check on your blood sugar levels regularly using a glucometer machine so as to keep track of your sugar level patterns over a period of time.
If you notice frequent incidents of hypoglycemia, changes in your diet need to be incorporated by reducing your sugar intake and breaking your food consumption into smaller meals spread at regular intervals throughout the day.
Upon finding your readings below the normal sugar levels, immediately consume fast acting sugar like:
• 15 grams of glucose tablets (this works very fast)
• 3 teaspoons or 3 packets of table sugar dissolved in 15 ml water
• 3/4 cup of juice or regular soft drink (non-diet)
• 6 Life Savers®
• 1 tablespoon of honey
It is a good idea to keep a check on your blood glucose level after consuming the above and if the low sugar level reading still persists, repeat one more intake of fast acting sugar.