While high blood sugar is more prevalent and well known, its counterpart low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia is less talked about. But just like diabetes, it can also be a dangerous condition.
Blood sugar is considered to be low when it drops below 70 mg/dl.
People who take medication for diabetes that increase insulin levels in the body are susceptible to low blood sugar. Diabetics who skip meals, eat less, or exercise heavily are also susceptible to it.
Blood sugar or glucose comes from the foods we eat. It is a source of energy for the body – your cells utilize it as the energy needed to perform their functions. The pancreas in your body produce a hormone called insulin that allows the cells to utilize glucose.
If your glucose is in short supply, then the body won’t be able to perform its functions. For people who don’t take medications to increase insulin, their glucose levels are adequate to maintain blood sugar levels. Even if their glucose is reduced, the liver can make glucose as and when necessary.
What are the symptoms of hypoglycaemia?
The symptoms of this condition can occur without any prior notice. They are –
Heart beating rapidly
Vision getting blurred
Difficulty in falling asleep
Lack of clarity in thoughts
In a condition called hypoglycaemic unawareness, a person fails to recognize signs of a drop in blood sugar. If treatment is not immediate then you may faint, or go into a coma.
During such an instance, the person should be given easily digestible carbohydrates like honey or a teaspoon of sugar to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Low blood sugar – causes
Low blood sugar primarily occurs in diabetics. They use a variety of treatment methods to get their blood sugar levels in control. Some of these methods include oral medication to boost insulin production and insulin shots.
If you take these medicines in excess then your blood sugar level can drop. Skipping meals or not eating the correct amount or eating later than usual and taking medication simultaneously can also cause your blood sugar to drop.
Excessive physical activity on an empty stomach can lead to low blood sugar. The same can also happen when you drink alcohol and are on medications to bring down blood sugar. As the body tries to remove alcohol, its efficiency in maintaining blood sugar levels also drops.
A few other causes of hypoglycaemia are –
Adrenal gland problems
Disorders like kidney problems and hepatitis
Malignant growths that boost insulin production
How is low blood sugar level treated?
Eating carbohydrates is the best option when blood sugar falls low. Therefore, if you are prone to low blood sugar, it is advised to keep high carbohydrate snacks on yourself at all times.
Foods like granola bars, pretzels, cookies and fruit juice come in handy in this regard.
Another option is to consume glucose tablets. These tablets can bring up your blood sugar levels at a quick pace. Wait for at least 15 minutes after eating a glucose tablet and check your blood sugar levels. If they don’t come up, then eat some more carbohydrate-rich snacks or take another dose of glucose tablets. Follow this procedure until your blood sugar level stabilizes.
If your main meal is delayed then snack on something to prevent fluctuations in blood sugar level.
Can you prevent low blood sugar?
Yes, you can. A few ways you can do that are –
Keep regular tabs on your blood sugar levels
Keep snacks handy. Ensure that the gap between two meals is not very long.
Never exercise on an empty stomach. Also, check your blood sugar level before exercise and ensure it is in the optimal range.
Follow the meal plan your doctor prescribes.
Low blood sugar can be a problem if you are not alert. Consult a doctor if you need to determine a treatment plan for low blood sugar.