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What Happens In The Body When Blood Sugar Drops?

What A Low Blood Sugar Feels Like

What A Low Blood Sugar Feels Like

In this article, we will explore what low blood sugar feels like for different people with diabetes. We will look at the symptoms, how they can change over time, and how they are often different from person to person. We will look at planning ahead, and the treatment of hypoglycemia, hereafter referred to as “low blood sugar.” To get started, patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes were interviewed and asked the question: What is it like and what do you do when life hands you the low blood sugar agenda for the day? Describe your experience. Melissa’s story Melissa is usually gung-ho and ready to go for the day, but when she is handed the low blood sugar agenda, it takes all the wind out of her “cells.” They feel wrinkled up and emaciate. Here is how Melissa describes her low blood sugars: I imagine you, (you wrinkly old emaciated cell with no food in you), as a grumpy old man. I scream at you, though I can’t move. No, I won’t take your stifling agenda! I have to work after all. My kids need me to take them to dance class after school. I’m reluctant to take your agenda, packed with the helplessness that is my poison pill of the day. If I believe those positive self-help type blogs, then I would know that to decide you are happy determines your destination for the day. If you have diabetes, that’s a crock. With diabetes, your low blood sugar determines your agenda, and ultimately what you will be able to do for the day. When it gets below 70, or dips severely low- it begs and screams to be addressed! Especially if it dips fast, then I’m in trouble. Every cell in my body screams out. If it’s too low, I can’t move to do anything about it! Often I get a little dizzy feeling, and then I know I have to treat. I will get the shakes so bad that I can’t Continue reading >>

What Happens To Sugar Levels In The Blood While Fasting?

What Happens To Sugar Levels In The Blood While Fasting?

Blood sugar levels are considered to be normal if they fall between 70 and 140 mg/dl. However, if serum glucose levels fall below 70 mg/dl, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can occur. Not eating enough is a common cause of low blood sugar. A person may experience symptoms such as hunger, rapid heartbeat, trembling, sweating and shakiness when blood sugar drops too low. Depending on whether low blood sugar is mild or moderate, headache, mental confusion and seizures can also occur. Severe low blood sugar can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, brain damage and even death. In cases of short-term fasting, glucose levels in the blood should rise after eating a meal. A study published in a 2005 issue of "Clinical Nutrition” concluded that fasting is not a healthy way for people to diet. Researchers found that diabetics and overweight individuals without diabetes had problems with insulin and blood sugar after 60 hours of fasting. Video of the Day The digestive system is responsible for breaking food down into glucose, which is the body’s primary source of energy. Glucose then travels in the bloodstream to cells throughout the body. This causes a rise in blood sugar levels. The pancreas releases insulin to aid cells in absorbing glucose for energy. For individuals with Type 2 diabetes who are insulin resistant, the cells do not respond to insulin the way they should. Excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream resulting in high blood sugar levels. But when a person does not eat, the body runs out of fuel, and blood sugar levels drop. In order to keep blood glucose levels stable, you need to eat several meals throughout the day. When the body is in a fasting state, it relies on stored energy. This energy comes from glycogen, protein and fat tissue. Glycogen store Continue reading >>

What Happens When Your Sugar Drops To A Dangerous Level In Your Body?

What Happens When Your Sugar Drops To A Dangerous Level In Your Body?

Effects of Severe Hypoglycemia Without emergency treatment, prolonged severe hypoglycemia results in permanent brain damage and irreversible cardiac problems, especially if you already have heart disease. Hypoglycemia causes weakness, tremors, rapid heartbeat and dizziness. Serious injuries can result from loss of consciousness while driving or falling down stairs, according to Joslin Diabetes Center. Drug-induced hypoglycemia is often responsible for falls that cause serious injuries in the elderly who take diabetes medications, such as chlorpropamide, reports the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy. Because many health conditions have similar symptoms, do not ignore recurring symptoms of hypoglycemia, whether mild or severe, as they can be a sign of a serious, undiagnosed medical condition. Food, Exercise and Medications Affect Blood-Sugar Levels Too little food, strenuous exercise that burns large amounts of sugar, caffeine or excessive alcohol consumption can cause hypoglycemia. Medications prescribed to treat heart problems or high blood pressure, such as beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme agents, also called ACE inhibitors, may mask symptoms of low blood sugar, reports the University of Michigan Health System. Medications, such as quinolones, antibiotics prescribed to treat urinary tract infections, can cause hypoglycemia, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Diseases That Cause Hypoglycemia Diseases that cause your pancreas, liver, kidneys or other organs to malfunction, or glandular problems, such as underactive thyroid, may also cause a drop in blood-sugar levels. Other causes of hypoglycemia include inherited metabolic abnormalities and autoimmune disorders. Normal Blood Sugar Levels The Joslin Diabetes Center provides th Continue reading >>

Blood Sugar Throughout The Day - For Normal People And Those With Diabetes

Blood Sugar Throughout The Day - For Normal People And Those With Diabetes

Most of us have heard the term blood sugar bandied around enough that we think we know what it means, but few of us really understand the complexity of the system that makes a steady supply of fuel available to our cells around the clock. The basic facts are these: All animals have a small amount of a simple sugar called glucose floating around in their bloodstream all the time. This simple sugar is one of two fuels that the cells of the body can burn for fuel. The other is fat. Though you may occasionally eat pure glucose--it's called "dextrose" when it is found in the list of ingredients on a U.S. food label--most of the glucose in your blood doesn't come from eating glucose. It is produced when your digestive system breaks down the larger molecules of complex sugars and starch. Sugars like those found in table sugar, corn syrup, milk and fruit and the starches found in flour, potatoes, rice, and beans all contain chains of glucose that are bonded together with other substances. During digestion, enzymes break these bonds and liberate the glucose molecules which are then absorbed into your bloodstream. How Blood Sugar is Measured Blood sugar concentrations are described using a number that describes the weight of glucose that is found in a specific volume of blood. In the U.S. that measurement is milligrams per deciliter, which is abbreviated as "mg/dl." Europeans and almost all researchers publishing in medical journals use a different measurement, micromoles per liter, abbreviated "mmol/L." You can convert any European measurements you encounter to the American standard by multiplying the mmol/L number by 18. There's a handy converter online that will do this for you automatically. You'll find it at If a blood test says that your blood sugar is 85 mg/dl this means t Continue reading >>

Hypoglycemia - Much More Than Just Low Blood Sugar

Hypoglycemia - Much More Than Just Low Blood Sugar

If you are experiencing an afternoon energy crisis – it could be low blood sugar, also medical termed hypoglycemia. Our team of experts dive deeper to discuss the causes and how to fix your low blood sugar to keep you energized all day long! If you are experiencing an afternoon energy crisis – it could be low blood sugar. You know how it goes—it's sometime between 2pm and 3pm, and you start to lose focus on what you are doing, and a nap begins to sound more and more appealing. A little brain fog sets in. May you start staring at the computer screen while your brain is zoning out. Yep—that a clear sign of a slightly lower-than-normal blood sugar. You're not alone, many Americans without diabetes experience "lows" sometime in the afternoon a couple hours after lunch. Mood swings are another sign that your blood sugar might be too low. Most people begin looking for an afternoon pick-me-up of coffee or some cookies, or a dose of nicotine. The medical term for low blood sugar is hypoglycemia. But hypoglycemia that happens because of insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes – is called reactive hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia is reported most frequently by women aged 25-35 years [Garza]. But men certainly experience this phenomenon as well. What Causes Hypoglycemia? Usually, low blood sugar can occur following a larger dose of simple carbohydrates and sugar. Reactive hypoglycemia is essentially the crash following dessert you feel at night. It can also happen after a ‘bender' night of drinking too much alcohol. If you begin to feel shaky and/or begin sweating, feel week, tired or dizzy the next morning, it's a good indicator that you are experiencing low blood sugar, or reactive hypoglycemia, caused by the interference of alcohol with your body's natural ability to Continue reading >>

Low Blood Sugar

Low Blood Sugar

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Insulin is needed to move glucose into cells where it is stored or used for energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into the cells. This leads to symptoms of diabetes. Low blood sugar occurs due to any of the following: Your body's sugar (glucose) is used up too quickly Glucose production by the body is too low or it is released into the bloodstream too slowly Too much insulin is in the bloodstream Low blood sugar is common in people with diabetes who are taking insulin or certain other medicines to control their diabetes. However, many other diabetes medicines do not cause low blood sugar. Exercise can also lead to low blood sugar in people taking insulin to treat their diabetes. Babies born to mothers with diabetes may have severe drops in blood sugar right after birth. In people who do not have diabetes, low blood sugar may be caused by: Drinking alcohol Insulinoma, which is a rare tumor in the pancreas that produces too much insulin Lack of a hormone, such as cortisol, growth hormone, or thyroid hormone Severe heart, kidney, or liver failure Infection that affects the whole body (sepsis) Some types of weight-loss surgery (usually 5 or more years after the surgery) Medicines not used to treat diabetes (certain antibiotics or heart drugs) Continue reading >>

> When Blood Sugar Is Too Low

> When Blood Sugar Is Too Low

No matter what we're doing — even when we're sleeping — our brains depend on glucose to function. Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it's also formed and stored inside the body. It's the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and it's carried to each cell through the bloodstream. The blood glucose level is the amount of glucose in the blood. When blood glucose levels (also called blood sugar levels) drop too low, it's called hypoglycemia (pronounced: hi-po-gly-SEE-me-uh). Very low blood sugar levels can cause severe symptoms that need to be treated right away. People with diabetes can have low blood sugar levels because of the medicines they have to take to manage their diabetes. They may need a hormone called insulin or diabetes pills (or both) to help their bodies use the sugar in their blood. These medicines help take the sugar out of the blood and get it into the body's cells, which makes the level of sugar in the blood go down. But sometimes it's a tricky balancing act and blood sugar levels can get too low. People with diabetes need to keep their blood sugars from getting too high or too low. Part of keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range is having good timing, and balancing when and what they eat and when they exercise with when they take medicines. Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely to happen are: skipping meals and snacks not eating enough food at a meal or snack exercising longer or harder than usual without eating some extra food getting too much insulin not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise Also, certain things may increase how quickly insulin gets absorbed into the bloodstream and can make hypoglycemia more likely to occur. For example, taking a hot shower Continue reading >>

Hyperglycemia And Hypoglycemia In Type 1 Diabetes

Hyperglycemia And Hypoglycemia In Type 1 Diabetes

Hyperglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels are too high. People develop hyperglycemia if their diabetes is not treated properly. Hypoglycemia sets in when blood sugar levels are too low. This is usually a side effect of treatment with blood-sugar-lowering medication. Diabetes is a metabolic disease with far-reaching health effects. In type 1 diabetes, the body only produces very little insulin, or none at all. In type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is released into the bloodstream, or the insulin cannot be used properly. We need insulin to live. Without it, sugar (glucose) builds up in the blood because it cannot be taken out and used by the body. Very high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, leads to a number of symptoms. If blood sugar levels are too low, it is called hypoglycemia. When is blood sugar considered to be too high or too low? Slight fluctuations in blood sugar levels are completely normal and also happen on a daily basis in people who do not have diabetes. Between around 60 and 140 milligrams of sugar per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) is considered to be healthy. This is equivalent to blood sugar concentrations between 3.3 and 7.8 mmol/L. “Millimole per liter” (mmol/L) is the international unit for measuring blood sugar. It indicates the concentration of a certain substance per liter. If type 1 diabetes is left untreated, people’s blood sugar levels can get very high, sometimes exceeding 27.8 mmol/L (500 mg/dL). Blood sugar concentrations below 3.3 mmol/L (60 mg/dL) are considered to be too low. As you can see in the illustration below, there are no clear-cut borders between the normal range of blood sugar and high and low blood sugar. Signs of hyperglycemia Signs of very high blood sugar levels in type 1 diabetes may include the following: If you o Continue reading >>

Hypoglycemia (low Blood Sugar)

Hypoglycemia (low Blood Sugar)

Hypoglycemia occurs when the level of sugar in the blood is too low. It can also be called insulin shock or insulin reaction. Hypoglycemia is when the level of sugar in the blood is below 60 mg/dl. Check with your doctor or nurse to find out what blood sugar level is too low for you. Causes Taking too much insulin or oral medication Not eating all of your meals and snacks or delaying meals and snacks Doing more exercise than usual Onset Hypoglycemia can occur at any time. It is more likely to occur at peak times of insulin actions. It may occur during or after increased activity. It is more likely if you are late eating your food or reduce the amount that you eat. Signs and Symptoms Sweating Shaking Nervousness Hunger Dizziness Faintness Pounding heart Personality change Confused thinking Impatience Crankiness Numbness of lips and tongue Headache Blurred Vision Slurred or slow speech Convulsions Unconsciousness Treatment Immediately eat or drink something containing "quick acting" sugar. Some possibilities are: 1/2 to 3/4 cup fruit juice 1/2 to 3/4 cup regular soda pop 2-3 teaspoons sugar 10 gumdrops 5-7 lifesavers 2 tablespoons of raisins Over-the-counter sugar tablets or gel If your symptoms do not disappear in 15 minutes and/or your blood sugar remains less than 80, repeat the treatment. Repeat every 15 minutes until the blood sugar is greater than 80. If a reaction occurs at a time when you do not plan to eat your next meal or snack for more than 30 minutes, eat food containing starch and protein after you have taken a "quick acting" sugar source and begin to feel better. Foods containing starch and protein are necessary to help prevent another reaction. Examples of appropriate snacks may be: 6 saltine crackers 3 graham crackers 1/2 meat sandwich 1 slice toast and 1 Continue reading >>

Hypoglycemia Overview

Hypoglycemia Overview

Hypoglycemia means low (hypo) glucose (gly) in the blood (emia). Your body needs glucose to properly function. Your cells rely on glucose for energy. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Carbohydrates (e.g., fruit, bread, potatoes, milk, and rice) are the biggest source of glucose in a typical diet, and your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. The glucose is then transported in your blood to cells that need it; it gives your body energy. However, in order to use the glucose, your body needs insulin. This is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin helps transport glucose into the cells, particularly the muscle cells. Sometimes, your blood glucose level can drop too low—that's hypoglycemia. It usually happens quite quickly, and it can be handled quite quickly, as well. People with type 1 diabetes do not make insulin to help their bodies use glucose, so they have to take insulin, which is injected under the skin. People with type 2 diabetes fall into two categories when it comes to insulin: either their body doesn't make enough, or their body is unable to use it well (insulin resistance). Normal Blood Glucose The American Diabetes Association published the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes that provide recommended target blood glucose ranges for people with and without diabetes. The standard for measuring blood glucose is “mg/dL,” which means milligrams per deciliter. People without Diabetes After eating (called postprandial) 70 to 140 mg/dL Goals for People with Diabetes Type 2 diabetes (also called type 2 diabetes mellitus) is more common than type 1 diabetes. Around 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National 2014 Diabetes Statistics Report, 29.1 million A Continue reading >>

What To Do If Your Blood Sugar Is Too Low

What To Do If Your Blood Sugar Is Too Low

You'll need to test your blood sugar if you think you have hypoglycemia.(ARTIGA PHOTO/CORBIS)Although type 2 diabetes is characterized by blood sugar that is too high, some people take insulin and others medications (such as sulfonylureas) that can occasionally drive blood sugar too low. When blood sugar is too lowgenerally less than 70 mg/dLit's called hypoglycemia, and it can become a medical emergency. (The normal range for fasting blood sugar is 70 to 99 mg/dL, though it varies somewhat with age, and is lower during pregnancy and in children.) You can lose consciousness Hypoglycemia is more likely to occur when you start taking a new medication (it can take practice to match your food intake to your insulin dose, for example) or if you exercise more than usual. As blood sugar drops to low levels, you may feel: Shaky Irritable Sweaty This can occur within 10 to 15 minutes, and in extreme cases you can even lose consciousness and experience seizures if you don't consume some glucose (though hypoglycemia is usually mild in people with type 2 diabetes, and readily fixed by drinking juice or eating other sugar-containing items, such as glucose tablets or four to six pieces of hard candy). Hypoglycemia"My blood sugar was really plummeting" Watch videoMore about blood sugar monitoring You'll need to test your blood sugar to confirm that you're having hypoglycemiasome people become irritable if blood sugar is too high, so it's not always obvious. If you drink sugar-containing juice, or some other form of carbohydrate, it should bring blood sugar back into the normal range. You can also purchase glucose pills or gels in the pharmacy that can get blood sugar back on track. “You should always have a glucose source in the car,” says Yvonne Thigpen, RD, diabetes program coor Continue reading >>

Effects And Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar Levels

Effects And Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar Levels

One of the side effects of diabetes suffered by many individuals is low blood sugar. In the case of diabetes the body is not able to process blood sugar or glucose which subsequently damages bodily systems and organs. The treatment for low glucose levels is to use oral hypoglycemic or injectable insulin which assists the body in producing energy by drawing glucose into the cellular system. The insulin or oral hypoglycemic medications require that the individual have a enough blood sugar upon which it will work. In some cases an individual will also have a condition that is known as “brittle” or hard to control diabetes. These individuals find that they have problems with low blood sugar and high blood sugar which happened during both the daytime and night time. Low Blood Sugar Definition Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is the medical term used to describe when blood sugar falls below what the body requires to stay alive. The normal blood sugar range level is between 70 and 99 mg/dL Low blood sugar is defined when the level, measured in mg/dL, falls below 65. When it falls very low, such as below 20, it is considered a dangerous blood sugar level; individuals can get confused, drowsy and even lose consciousness. The blood sugar levels are necessary in order to maintain significant brain activity. If this blood sugar drops during pregnancy it can permanently harmed the baby. Individuals who do not suffer from brittle diabetes can produce low blood sugar by taking too much insulin, not eating enough food, exercise when it wasn’t planned for, drinking too much alcohol or exercising and not eating. Each of these situations causes an environment in the body in which the amount of blood sugar drops and there continues to be insulin present that works on the remaining b Continue reading >>

What Happens When Blood Sugar Drops?

What Happens When Blood Sugar Drops?

Glucose regulation in the body is complex with contributions from many different systems. These multiple controls are designed to keep a steady supply of glucose to the brain. Brain metabolism depends primarily on glucose for fuel. If the amount of glucose supplied by the blood falls, the brain is one of the first organs affected. There are a number of mechanisms that tightly regulate (outside of a disease state) the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream. When there is a plentiful supply of glucose (such as after a carbohydrate-containing meal), glucose is absorbed from the intestine, and the level of blood glucose (sugar) rises. Glucose is removed from the blood stream by uptake into virtually all cell types, but most importantly into muscle and adipose (fat) tissue. This removal requires insulin. Insulin, which is released from the pancreas, acts to decrease the level of glucose in the blood by signalling these cells to pick up and store glucose. Insulin also inhibits breakdown of glycogen (glycogenolysis) and formation of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources (gluconeogenesis). The central nervous system can also sense glucose levels and act to affect the blood sugar levels, at least in part by regulating gluconeogenesis. The importance of an adequate supply of glucose to the brain is apparent from the number of nervous, hormonal and metabolic responses to a falling glucose level (1). Most of these are defensive or adaptive, tending to raise the blood sugar via Glycogenolysis - breaking down of glycogen, a polymer of glucose molecules, stored in the liver and muscle. If the blood sugar level falls too low the liver converts a storage of glycogen into glucose and releases it into the bloodstream, to prevent the person going into a diabetic coma, for a short per Continue reading >>

How Does Hypoglycemia Affect The Body?

How Does Hypoglycemia Affect The Body?

Your blood sugar is low when the numbers are 70 mg/dL or less. Low blood sugar is also called hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar can: Make you feel hungry Make you sweat Cause headaches Cause weakness Make you feel dizzy or shaky Make you feel anxious or cranky Cause you to feel confused Make your heart feel like it's beating too fast Make you look pale If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, check your blood sugar. If it is low, eat or drink a source of quick sugar -- like 5-6 pieces of hard candy, 3-4 glucose tablets, or 6 ounces of fruit juice or soft drink (not diet). Check your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. If it's not better, eat or drink a source of quick sugar again. When you feel better, have a protein snack like cheese and crackers or half a peanut butter sandwich. Talk with your doctor if you have two or more low blood sugars in one week. The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS. Hypoglycemia refers to blood sugar levels that drop below the normal range. When blood sugar becomes too low, the body releases a hormone called epinephrine (adrenaline), which causes the body to release stored sugar into the blood. Epinephrine produces symptoms such as hunger, sweating, and shaking. As blood sugar drops even more, the body cannot get enough sugar to the brain, and additional symptoms develop due to the decrease in sugar to the brain. This causes the dizziness, confusion, and weakness of hypoglycemia. As blood sugar continues to drop, and the brain does not have enough sugar to function properly, more severe effects occur, including p Continue reading >>

The Liver & Blood Sugar

The Liver & Blood Sugar

During a meal, your liver stores sugar for later. When you’re not eating, the liver supplies sugar by turning glycogen into glucose in a process called glycogenolysis. The liver both stores and produces sugar… The liver acts as the body’s glucose (or fuel) reservoir, and helps to keep your circulating blood sugar levels and other body fuels steady and constant. The liver both stores and manufactures glucose depending upon the body’s need. The need to store or release glucose is primarily signaled by the hormones insulin and glucagon. During a meal, your liver will store sugar, or glucose, as glycogen for a later time when your body needs it. The high levels of insulin and suppressed levels of glucagon during a meal promote the storage of glucose as glycogen. The liver makes sugar when you need it…. When you’re not eating – especially overnight or between meals, the body has to make its own sugar. The liver supplies sugar or glucose by turning glycogen into glucose in a process called glycogenolysis. The liver also can manufacture necessary sugar or glucose by harvesting amino acids, waste products and fat byproducts. This process is called gluconeogenesis. When your body’s glycogen storage is running low, the body starts to conserve the sugar supplies for the organs that always require sugar. These include: the brain, red blood cells and parts of the kidney. To supplement the limited sugar supply, the liver makes alternative fuels called ketones from fats. This process is called ketogenesis. The hormone signal for ketogenesis to begin is a low level of insulin. Ketones are burned as fuel by muscle and other body organs. And the sugar is saved for the organs that need it. The terms “gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis and ketogenesis” may seem like compli Continue reading >>

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