Do you understand the causes of low blood sugar?
Hypoglycemia can come on quickly and leave you stumbling, confused and feeling helpless. They can also deprive the brain of glucagon and affect decision-making capabilities. Blood glucose levels lower than 60 mg/dL are considered 'low,' and are frightening to experience.
6 causes of low blood sugar
Diabetes management is all about maintaining a balance, and hypoglycemia occurs when glucose and insulin are out of balance. Low blood sugars can occur for several reasons including the following:
- Taking too much basal or bolus insulin/striving for tight control
- Not eating as many carbs as planned, or a change in diet
- Being more active than usual
- Gastroparesis/delayed stomach emptying
- Alcohol, particularly without food, due to reduced growth hormone production
- Residual pancreatic insulin production
"If people continue to have low blood sugar, their bodies may become accustomed to it and manifest no symptoms at all. This is known as 'hypoglycemia unawareness' and is very dangerous because very low sugar can cause one to pass out without any warning signs," says Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE.
"Managing hypoglycemia can be tricky, particularly for those with residual pancreatic production of insulin and individuals extremely sensitive to insulin. Eating at least every 4-5 hours is important, and people who tend to have overnight lows should have a bedtime snack with 15 grams of carbohydrate and some protein and fat, i.e. 1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese with 1 cup fruit or 1 slice of toast with 1 Tbsp peanut butter."
Interview with Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE