Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, occurs when the level of glucose in the blood drops below normal levels. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body and is necessary for proper brain function. If left untreated, low blood sugar can lead to serious health problems.
About blood sugar (glucose)
Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is a type of sugar that is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. Glucose levels in the blood are regulated by hormones such as insulin and glucagon, produced by the pancreas. Normal fasting blood glucose levels are typically between 70-100 mg/dL but can vary depending on age, diet, physical activity, and other factors.
Chronic high blood sugar levels can lead to conditions such as type 2 diabetes, while low blood sugar levels can cause symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and shaking. Maintaining normal blood glucose levels is important for overall health and wellness.
Low blood sugar symptoms
Here are some of the most common symptoms of low blood sugar:
- Shakiness and Tremors: Shaky hands, legs, or other body parts can be a sign of low blood sugar. This is because the body is trying to signal the brain that it needs more energy.
- Sweating and Paleness: Low blood sugar can cause sweating and paleness as the body tries to regulate its blood sugar levels.
- Hunger Pangs: A sudden feeling of hunger is a common symptom of low blood sugar. This is because the body is trying to signal that it needs more energy.
- Fatigue: Fatigue and weakness are common symptoms of low blood sugar, as the body is not receiving enough energy to function properly.
- Confusion and Dizziness: Low blood sugar can cause confusion and dizziness, as the brain is not receiving enough glucose to function properly.
- Irritability and Mood Swings: Irritability, anxiety, and mood swings are common symptoms of low blood sugar, as the brain is not receiving enough glucose to function properly.
- Blurred Vision: Blurred vision is a less common symptom of low blood sugar, but it can occur if the brain is not receiving enough glucose to function properly.
It’s important to treat low blood sugar as soon as possible to avoid serious health problems. This can be done by consuming a snack or meal that contains carbohydrates, such as fruit or a granola bar. If you experience low blood sugar frequently, it’s important to talk to your doctor, as it may be a symptom of an underlying health condition.
What to do if you have low blood sugar symptoms
If you are experiencing symptoms of low blood sugar, you should take the following actions immediately:
- Eat or drink a source of fast-acting carbohydrates, such as fruit juice, candy, or glucose gel.
- Wait 15 minutes and then check your blood sugar level again.
- If your blood sugar level is still low, eat a small snack containing protein and carbohydrates, such as crackers with peanut butter or a cheese sandwich.
- If you have diabetes and use insulin, you may need to adjust your dose or eat a snack containing carbohydrates before physical activity to prevent low blood sugar.
- If you are unable to eat or drink, or if your symptoms persist even after eating or drinking, seek medical attention immediately.
It is important to have a plan in place for managing low blood sugar and to always carry fast-acting glucose sources with you. People with diabetes should also monitor their blood sugar regularly and communicate with their healthcare provider about how to manage hypoglycemia.
Examples of easily digestible carbohydrates
Easy-to-digest carbohydrates, also known as fast-acting carbohydrates, are carbohydrates that are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, providing a quick boost of energy. Some examples include:
- Fruit juice, such as orange juice
- Glucose gel or tablets
- Hard candies, such as fruit-flavored candies
- Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade
- Non-diet soft drinks
- Table sugar (sucrose) or corn syrup
- Raisins or dried fruit
- Rice cakes
These carbohydrates are used to treat low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) because they quickly raise blood sugar levels. However, it is important to choose balanced snacks that also include protein and healthy fats for long-term blood sugar control and overall health.
In conclusion, low blood sugar is a condition that occurs when the level of glucose in the blood drops below normal levels. Some of the most common symptoms of low blood sugar include shakiness, sweating, hunger pangs, fatigue, confusion, irritability, and blurred vision. If you experience low blood sugar frequently, it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the cause and ensure proper treatment.
Image Credit: Image by xb100 on Freepik