Diabetic patients are especially prone to periods of dangerously low blood sugar in part because of the medications they are often prescribed. This condition, called hypoglycemia, is sometimes the result of overusing medication, but excessive exercise, meal skipping, or simply eating less can all lead to a low blood sugar event as well. What makes the condition especially scary is that you can have it and not even know it.
People suffering from low blood sugar can fall unconscious or lapse into a coma — all without realizing anything was wrong. If no one is around to help, the condition can lead to death. That is a terrifying possibility for someone diagnosed with a lifelong condition, so what can you do about it?
Low blood sugar occurs when it dips under 70 mg/dL. That means you aren’t getting the glucose you need, and your body can’t retain the functionality a normal person’s would.
That’s why the first step is checking your blood sugar as often as possible to ensure that it remains where it should. When it falls on more than one occasion the first step is to discover why it’s happening — and then prevent a recurrence.
Although low blood sugar can present without symptoms (hypoglycemic unawareness), you might experience:
- Pale skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Mood swings
- Blurry vision
- Tingly skin
When you discover that your blood sugar is lower than it should be, you need carbohydrates that your body can digest more easily. Soda, juice, honey, candy, crackers, or even a small spoonful of sugar can help you balance your blood sugar.
Work with a diabetic educator or healthcare provider to determine a diet and exercise regimen right for you. Don’t skip meals or start exercising more frequently than you did before. When physically active, consider a snack before or during the increased activity if you know you’re prone to low blood sugar during or after exercise.
Regularity is a diabetic’s most important weapon when fighting the condition. Diabetics must keep close track of the carbohydrates they consume in order to maintain proper blood sugar. They must also be very careful when drinking alcohol, which is best taken with food.
Depending on how serious your symptoms are, some diabetic patients might benefit from keeping a glucagon emergency kit on their person at all times. The medication will help your body increase its own blood sugar by releasing what is already stored in the liver.