Glucose refers to the blood sugar that circulates in the body. Being the primary source of energy, it drives the metabolism of the body and provides us with gobs of energy for various day-to-day activities. The levels of blood sugar are regulated by insulin, a hormone that allows the body to utilize the sugar from the food consumed. To prevent blood glucose levels from dropping too low, the body produces a hormone called glucagon, which stimulates the conversion of stored glycogen in the blood. Thus, a perfect balance between intake and utilization is maintained.
The sugar consumption can be reduced through low carb diet along with optimal exercise. Increase in insulin levels or enhanced insulin sensitivity, result in a condition known as low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. It often follows careless diabetes management. Reactive hypoglycemia is another subtype of recurrent hypoglycemic attacks where carbohydrate ingestion leads to an acute hypoglycemic episode.
Low blood sugar is characterized by acute anxiety, sweating, and dizziness. As the blood sugar continues to drop, symptoms such as palpitations and shakiness start developing. When the brain is deprived of glucose, it gives rise to confusion, emotional instability, fainting, and stupor, requiring immediate medical attention. If not properly attended to, it may lead to coma and ultimately death in severe cases.
How to manage low blood sugar?
It is evident now, that a patient suffering from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, requires immediate attention. The following are a few steps that may help you save lives:
- Load the body with quick-acting Carbs: In a conscious patient, immediate consumption of high sugar foods and drinks like fruit juices or regular sodas help to elevate blood sugar instantly. These need to be followed by sustainable carbohydrates, like cereal bars. On an average, intake of 10-20 grams of carbohydrates is an adequate amount.
- High Starch is the way to go: High starch containing food like biscuits and crackers make a good alternative. Do not add a lot of fat or protein to the food, as it may impede digestion and absorption of glucose. Moreover, give short breaks between each food bolus, allowing the body to absorb, process and readjust to the high sugar states, in turn increasing metabolism.
- Glucose administration: If the patient is unconscious or comatose, prompt glucose administration through IV line is crucial. Intravenous dextrose should be started with the concentration depending on the present blood glucose levels and age of the patient. Along with this, other fluid electrolytes need to be assessed carefully.
- Glucagon injection for quick results: In case, where the patient’s condition deteriorates rapidly, an intramuscular injection of glucagon helps in quick recovery. Glucagon transports the glucose from the cells back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. In fact, carrying a glucagon injection can come in very handy for diabetic patients on insulin.
- Consult a physician: Once the patient is stabilized, consult a doctor to find out and treat the underlying cause that triggered the hypoglycemic attack to prevent recurrent episodes. It may require a modification in the former prescription drugs and shift to new ones,ensuring that they do not cause hypoglycemia.
Thus, it is important to know these tips, which might seem easy to execute but are crucial in saving lives. It is recommended for diabetics to carry some sweet juices or biscuits for any such emergency. Try not to leave your home if your blood sugar is below 100mg/dL. But, if you have to leave, make sure to consume a snack before leaving, to prevent hypoglycemic episodes. In order to find the root cause of your hypoglycemia and treat it effectively, consider consulting a diabetic specialist.