Why low blood sugar is dangerous
Hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, is often known as a 'hypo'. It can make you feel unwell and affect your ability to drive. Simple steps will reduce the risk, and allow you to treat a hypo early, before it causes more serious complications.
Blood sugar - what's normal?
Under normal circumstances, your body does a remarkable job of keeping your blood sugar (in the form of glucose) stable. Usually your body releases a hormone called insulin, produced by your pancreas, in response to rises in blood sugar. Your body's cells need glucose as fuel to allow them to function. Insulin acts as a 'key', opening the door of your cells to allow glucose in. Another hormone helps raise your blood sugar if it gets too low.
Your blood sugar, which is measured in millimoles per litre or mmol/L, is usually maintained between 4 and 6 mmol/L when you're fasting, and up to 7.8 mmol/L two hours after a meal. Diabetes is diagnosed on the basis of raised blood glucose.
Hypos - what causes them?
People with type 1 diabetes need insulin in injection form, because they don't produce any insulin of their own. People with type 2 diabetes sometimes need insulin if their blood sugar can't be controlled with other tablets. If you're using insulin injections, the amount of insulin you need depends on lots of factors, including how much food you've eaten. More insulin than you need can drop your blood sugar below normal levels, causing a 'hypo'.
So too can some tablets used in type 2 diabetes, particularly sulfonylureas, nateglinide and repaglinide, which act by making your body produce more insulin.
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