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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Diabetes And Low Blood Sugar

Post by Dr. Shehzad Topiwala, MD, F.A.C.E. (USA),
Consultant Endocrinologist & Head, Dept. of Endocrinology & Diabetes.

By definition, diabetes is a health disorder that leads to excessive thirst and the production of massive amounts of urine.

What Is Low Blood Sugar?

You are said to be suffering from low blood sugar (also known as hypoglycemia) when your blood sugar level falls below 70 mg/dl.

If you're suffering from diabetes and re using any of the below medications, you're at a risk for hypoglycemia:
  • Insulin
  • Meglitinides: Nateglinide & Repaglinide
  • Sulfonylureas: Glibenclamide, Glimepiride, Glipizide, Gliclazide

There are numerous brand names for each of these medicines. It is practically difficult to include all of them here. So you can either read the label on the back of your medicine strip to check the same, or you can simply consult your doctor if the medicine you're on falls in the above mentioned categories or not.

Recognizing Low Blood Sugar

You may feel:
  • Weak
  • Tired
  • Sweaty
  • Shaky
  • Hungry
  • Cranky
  • Nervous, anxious, uneasy

You may have:
  • A headache
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • A fast or pounding heartbeat

Sometimes your blood sugar level may fall even though you do not see any symptoms. If it gets too low, you may:
  • Faint
  • Have a seizure
  • Go into a coma

     Causes Of Low Blood Sugar

    People with low sugar levels need to check the blood sugar more often than the others. The commonly known causes of low blood sugar are:
    • Taking your insulin or medicine at the wrong time
    • Taking too much insulin or medicine by mistake
    • Not eating enough food after you have taken insulin or diabetes medicine
    • Skipping meals
    • Exercising a lot or at an unusual time
    • Drinking alcohol

      Preventing Low Blood Sugars

      Preventing this disorder is better than having to treat it.
      • When you do exercise, always check your blood sugar. Ensure you have snacks with you.
      • Keep a bedtime snack to prevent low blood sugar overnight. Protein snacks may be the best.
      • Do not consume alcohol without eating food. If you do drink, have only 1 or 2 drinks at the most.

      Family and friends should know how to help. They should know:
      • Your symptoms.
      • How much and what kind of food you should be given.
      • When to call for an emergency help.
      • How to inject glucagon during emergencies. Your doctor can educate you about glucagon.

      When Your Blood Sugar Gets Low..
      • If your blood sugar is below 70, eat something that has about 15 grams of carbohydrates. Examples are:
        • 4 glucose tablets
        • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 120 ml) fruit juice or regular, non-diet soda
        • 5 or 6 hard candies
        • 1 tablespoon sugar, plain or dissolved in water
        • 1 tablespoon honey or syrup

      • Wait for about 15 minutes before eating any more. And do not eat a lot as this can lead to high blood  sugar and weight gain.

      • Check your blood sugar.

      • If you're blood sugar is still lesser than 70, eat something with 15 grams of carbohydrate again.

      • If your blood sugar is still low, contact your doctor or visit the emergency department immediately. Do NOT drive to the place by yourself. If the patient is unconscious, then the caregivers need to do the same on their behalf.

         Talk To Your Doctor

        If you use insulin and you are having a lot of low blood sugar, ask your doctor if you:
        • Are injecting your insulin the right way
        • Should change how much and what kind you are taking
        • Need to change the type of your needle

        If you have learned to adjust your insulin doses, change your dose to decrease the likelihood of low blood sugars occurring. If you are still having lows or have questions, schedule an appointment to see your doctor.

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