What Causes Low Glucose Levels – Diabetes is a serious disease in which blood sugar levels can become too high and must be controlled.
But some people with diabetes are also at risk of their blood sugar swinging in the opposite direction and going too low, leading to a dangerous condition called hypoglycemia, which in severe cases can lead to confusion, weakness, seizures or death.
What Causes Low Glucose Levels
A recent Mayo Clinic study estimated that about 20 percent of people with diabetes are actively treated with drugs or insulin, leading to thousands of doctor visits for hypoglycemia.
Solved When Blood Glucose Levels Are Low ▻ View Available
Rosalina McCoy, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic and co-author of the new study, said.
McCoy and her team at the Mayo Clinic noticed this disturbing trend and wanted to learn more. They examined data on more than 10.2 million people with diabetes between 2011 and 2014 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the OptumLabs data warehouse, and found that about 2.3 million experienced overtreatment.
About 10,000 people in the study group experienced a severe hypoglycemic event related to glucose-lowering therapy and went to the emergency room or were hospitalized.
“We’ve always thought that lower blood sugar levels are better and … prevent complications of diabetes,” said Rekha Kumar, an endocrinologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, who was not involved in the study .
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She said the study is an important reminder of the dangers of hypoglycemia as the diabetes epidemic continues.
Nearly 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and only three-quarters of them know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Low blood sugar affects people with two types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, in which the body does not produce insulin, and type 2 diabetes, in which the body produces some insulin, but not enough. About 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC, and the disease usually begins in adulthood and can be lifestyle-related.
According to the CDC, normal blood sugar levels are 80 to 120 mg/dL before a meal and less than 180 mg/dL within two hours after a meal. Hypoglycemia is defined as a blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL.
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Diabetes treatment plans are based on certain criteria, and doctors have protocols for assessing whether a patient is on track.
The vast majority of people with diabetes are not over-medicated. In fact, due to the recent shortage of insulin available, many people are unable to receive proper treatment. The amount of insulin needed to treat diabetes is expected to increase by more than 20 percent from 2018 to 2030, limiting access to the 40 million people who may need it, scientists predict.
But it’s not uncommon for standard diabetes treatments to be too aggressive for some people and lower blood sugar too much. The situation can also be complicated when patients take multiple medications for other health problems.
“Hypoglycemia primarily affects people with diabetes who are taking multiple medications,” said Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian endocrinologist Jason Baker, MD, who was not involved in the study. “This interferes with our ability to safely control what we need to prevent the complication at the other end of the spectrum, which is hyperglycemia.”
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Some people may mistake hypoglycemia symptoms for a typical side effect of diabetes. But doctors say extremely low blood sugar or other symptoms of hypoglycemia are not normal. People who are being treated for diabetes should tell their doctor if they notice any of these conditions.
The American College of Physicians recommends that people with diabetes maintain a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) between 7 and 8 percent. Doctors do hemoglobin A1c tests to help them monitor diabetes.
“If a patient has a low HbA1c level and they don’t tell their doctor that they’re having a hypoglycemic event, that’s a problem,” McCoy said. “If they’re having trouble, patients don’t always tell their doctor because I think it’s The inevitable result of disease.”
People with diabetes should check their blood sugar levels regularly to monitor themselves and have a contingency plan in case they get too low:
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Managing diabetes is complicated, but communication is key. McCoy encourages patients to discuss their day-to-day experiences with their doctors to improve treatment.
“The key to finding the right approach to diabetes management is working with your healthcare provider to figure out what works best for you,” she says. “Contact your doctor, have a frank conversation about your concerns, and then use all the resources at your disposal to move forward and find your balance.” Every cell in your body needs energy to function. The main source of energy may come as a surprise: It’s sugar, also known as glucose. Blood sugar is critical to the proper function of the brain, heart and digestive system. It even helps keep your skin and eyesight healthy.
When blood sugar levels are lower than normal, this is called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia has many recognizable symptoms, but the only way to know if you have it is to have a blood sugar test.
Learn more about the symptoms of low blood sugar, as well as the long-term effects on your body.
Normal Blood Glucose Levels & What They Indicate?
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer produces insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or your body doesn’t use it properly. Taking too much insulin or oral diabetes medications can lower blood sugar levels, leading to hypoglycemia.
However, contrary to popular belief, hypoglycemia is not limited to diabetes, although it is rare. It can also happen if your body produces too much insulin.
Another possible cause of low blood sugar is drinking too much alcohol, especially over a long period of time. This interferes with the liver’s ability to produce glucose and release it into the blood when needed.
When blood sugar levels get too low, your cells become hungry for energy. At first, you may notice mild symptoms such as hunger and headaches. However, if you don’t raise your blood sugar levels in time, you could be at risk of serious complications.
Risk For Unstable Blood Glucose Level
To prevent blood sugar levels from getting too high (called hyperglycemia), you need the right amount of insulin. Blood sugar levels rise due to insufficient insulin. On the other hand, taking too much insulin can cause blood sugar to drop rapidly.
After eating, the digestive system breaks carbohydrates down into glucose. Basically, glucose is your body’s fuel source.
When your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which helps cells absorb and use glucose throughout your body. If you have insulin-dependent diabetes, you have to make good insulin decisions to get the job done.
When you don’t eat for several hours, your blood sugar levels drop. If you have a healthy pancreas, it releases a hormone called glucagon to make up for the lack of food. This hormone tells the liver to process stored sugars and release them into the blood.
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If all is well, your blood sugar levels should remain within the normal range until your next meal.
Not having enough sugar in the blood can lead to a rapid heartbeat and palpitations. However, even if you have diabetes, you may not always have significant symptoms of hypoglycemia. This is a serious condition known as hypoglycemia unawareness. It happens when your blood sugar drops so much that it changes how your body responds to it.
Typically, low blood sugar causes your body to release stress hormones, such as adrenaline. Adrenaline is responsible for early warning signs like hunger and shaking.
When hypoglycemia occurs frequently, your body may stop releasing stress hormones, known as hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure, or HAAF. That’s why it’s so important to check your blood sugar levels often.
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Usually, low blood sugar indicates extreme hunger. However, sometimes low blood sugar can make you lose interest in eating, even if you are very hungry.
Low blood sugar levels can also cause various problems in the central nervous system. Early symptoms include weakness, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Headaches can be caused by a lack of glucose, especially if you have diabetes.
You may also experience signs of stress, such as nervousness, anxiety, and irritability. When your blood sugar levels drop during the night, you may have nightmares, screaming in your sleep, or other sleep disturbances.
Low blood sugar can cause a lack of coordination, chills, clammy skin, and sweating. Tingling or numbness in the mouth is another effect that may occur. Also, you may experience blurred vision, headaches, and confusion. Daily tasks and coordination proved difficult, too.
Low Blood Sugarproblem To Risk
A sudden drop in blood sugar can be very dangerous if left untreated. It can cause seizures, loss of consciousness, or death.
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