When you choose prolonged fasting overnight, do you wake up with dizziness or confusion? It may be due to low blood sugar in the morning. This is especially true for people who have been living with diabetes. Don’t take hypoglycemia lightly. On World Diabetes Day, which falls on November 14 every year, let us tell you the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar in the morning.
If we look at worldwide data, about 422 million people are living with diabetes, as per the World Health Organization. As many as 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes every year. So, more awareness about how to recognise low blood sugar and what to do about it is important.
Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is a condition characterised by a decrease in the levels of glucose in the bloodstream, usually below 70 milligrams per deciliter, explains endocrinologist and diabetes specialist Dr Nithya Abraham. This can affect people with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, as well as those without diabetes who may have other underlying health issues.
There can be several causes of low blood sugar in the morning, and it is essential to identify these factors to manage the condition effectively. Some common causes of hypoglycemia include:
Going for extended periods without eating, especially for people with diabetes, can lead to a drop in blood glucose levels.
Certain diabetes medications, particularly long-acting diabetes medications like sulfonylureas or insulin, can contribute to low blood glucose if the dose is too high or if there is an imbalance in medication and food intake.
Engaging in physical activity, especially close to bedtime, is not a good idea. That’s because the body utilises glucose for energy during exercise.
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Chronic kidney disease or other organ failures can impact the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels, the expert tells Health Shots.
Certain hormonal imbalances such as low adrenal function or low growth hormone levels can lead to low blood sugar.
Vomiting or diarrhoea can lead to a loss of glucose and in turn, contribute to low blood glucose in the morning.
You might think that eating foods with hardly any carbohydrate is a good way to lose weight. But following very low-carbohydrate diets can lead to reduced glucose availability.
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You might not experience all the symptoms of low blood sugar, but there are some common ones to watch for.
An increased heart rate is the body’s response to low blood glucose as it tries to compensate for the glucose deficiency by pumping blood more rapidly.
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Shaking or tremors, especially in the hands, can occur as a result of the body’s stress response to low blood glucose, says Dr Abraham.
Profuse sweating can be a symptom of low blood glucose as the body tries to cool itself down when it perceives a threat.
Low blood glucose can trigger feelings of nervousness or anxiety due to the body’s stress response.
Low blood glucose can affect mood and cognitive function, leading to irritability and confusion.
Dizziness is a common symptom and can result from the brain not receiving sufficient glucose for optimal function.
Low blood glucose can affect motor skills and coordination, making it challenging to perform everyday tasks.
A headache may develop as a result of low blood glucose impacting blood vessels and brain function.
The treatment for low blood sugar depends on the severity of the condition.
For blood glucose levels below 70 mg/dL but not severely low, you can follow the 15-15 rule. Consume 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates (e.g., glucose tablets, fruit juice or a regular soft drink), wait for 15 minutes, and then recheck blood glucose levels. If levels remain low, repeat the process until they stabilise, says the expert. Once stabilised, eat your meal.
It is one of the most effective treatments for people with low blood glucose who are unconscious. A glucagon kit, available by prescription, can be used to rapidly raise blood sugar levels.
If you are frequently at risk of low blood sugar, educate your friends, family and co-workers on how to test blood sugar and administer first aid in case of a severe low blood sugar event.