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Low Blood Sugar Levels - Don't Panic!

Hypoglycemia or a "hypo" is a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels fall too low, often as a result of taking more insulin or certain diabetic medications, than was required. Type 2 diabetics on medications are often concerned they may drive their blood sugars too low. Mild lows are annoying but severe lows can be dangerous.
A "hypo" may cause you to sweat, shake and feel somewhat disoriented. Loss of co-ordination occurs later along with confusion and irritability, usually about the time your level drops to below 60mg/dl (3.3mmol/l).
Low blood sugar levels are likely when:
  • too much insulin has been given
  • after drinking alcohol
  • during and following increased activity
  • on vacations when stress is reduced, activity increased and mealtimes become erratic
  • when mealtime is delayed, interrupted, or skipped altogether
Low blood sugar level symptoms are created by:
  • the effect of low blood sugars on the brain and other organs, including weakness, difficult concentrating, slurred speech, giddiness, confusion, poor

    judgment, vision problems, sleepiness, and yawning
  • and by the effect of adrenaline which leads to sweating, fast heart rate, trembling, irritation and hunger
Check your level as soon as you suspect you may be low, or someone around you suggests this. The faster you respond the faster you can bring your blood sugar back to your target range.
Treatment plan for a "hypo":
  • eat 15 to 20 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates immediately, eg. glucose tablets, Smarties or jelly beans. This shuts off the release of stress hormones. Candy bars and cookies do not act quickly enough and when you eat large amounts, they cause high blood sugars level due to over treating
  • depending on when your next meal is due, you will need to decide whether a snack of complex carbohydrates and protein is needed to keep you stable. Cheese and crackers, bread with peanut butter, or half an apple with cheese, may be needed after eating the fast-acting carbohydrates
  • test your level 30 minutes later to make sure it has risen. If not, repeat the first step
  • wait 45 to 60 minutes before driving or operating machinery
For severe hypoglycemia injected glucagon may be the best treatment. It is the fastest way to raise your blood sugars but it needs to be given by someone who has been trained to mix it and inject it at the time it is needed. You should let your health care provider know whenever glucagon is needed as it may be necessary to change the treatment plan for your type 2 diabetes.
The symptoms of a "hypo" are really variable and non-specific when you think about it. If you are wondering if you are low, the best way to tell is to check your finger stick blood sugar and see if you are under 60 mg/dl (3.3 mmol/l) or maybe 70 mg/dl (3.9mmol/l).
Learn all you can about your type 2 diabetes and become the CEO of your treatment. Click here now if your would like to download my free E-Book: Answers to Your Questions
Beverleigh Piepers is a registered nurse who would like to help you understand how to live easily and happily with your type 2 diabetes.


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