Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can be a dangerous condition. Low blood sugar can happen in people with diabetes who take medications that increase insulin levels in the body.
Taking too much medication, skipping meals, eating less than normal, or exercising more than usual can lead to low blood sugar for these individuals.
Blood sugar is also known as glucose. Glucose comes from food and serves as an important energy source for the body. Carbohydrates — foods such as rice, potatoes, bread, tortillas, cereal, fruit, vegetables, and milk — are the body’s main source of glucose.
If you eat more glucose than you need, your body will store it in your liver and muscles or change it into fat so it can be used for energy when it’s needed later.
Without enough glucose, your body cannot perform its normal functions. In the short term, people who aren’t on medications that increase insulin have enough glucose to maintain blood sugar levels, and the liver can make glucose if needed.
However, for those on these specific medications, a short-term reduction in blood sugar can cause a lot of problems. Your blood sugar is considered low when it drops below 70 mg/dL. Immediate treatment for low blood sugar levels is important to prevent more serious symptoms from developing.
After you eat, glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream, where it travels to your body’s cells. A hormone called insulin, which is made in the pancreas helps your cells use glucose for energy.
What to do when blood sugar is too low? What are some tips or strategies to making it higher?
There is a strategy called the “15-15 Rule”. This technique is used in the case of hypoglycemia, which is when the blood glucose is lower than 70 mg/dl. It constitutes of eating 15 grams of carbohydrates and checking blood glucose after 15 minutes. If blood glucose is still below 70 gm/dl, then repeat and consume another 15 grams of carbohydrates and retest after another 15 minutes. Once the blood sugar is back to normal, eat a meal or a snack to avoid hypoglycemia from happening again.
Examples of fifteen grams of carbohydrates include three tablets of glucose, half a cup of juice or non-diet soda, 6-7 hard candies or 1 tablespoon of sugar. This approach of rising blood glucose is better than eating a big meal when hypoglycemic because high food intake can cause blood glucose to shoot way up rapidly.