- The Effects of Low Blood Sugar on Your Body
- Digestive, endocrine, and circulatory systems
- Central nervous system
- Signs and symptoms
- Prevention of low blood sugar
- Your symptoms
- Nighttime low blood sugars
- Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) in People Without Diabetes
- Topic Overview
- When Blood Sugar Is Too Low
- Hypos with emergency assistance – what happens during a diabetic emergency?
- Medical ID
- Every clue helps
- Is it Hot Flashes or Low Blood Sugar?
- Unexpected Night Sweats
- Solving the Night Sweat Problem
- A Few Simple Dietary Changes
- Knowing Yourself and Your Body
The Effects of Low Blood Sugar on Your Body
Every cell in your body needs energy to function. The main source of energy might come as a surprise: It’s sugar, also known as glucose. Blood sugar is essential to proper brain, heart, and digestive function. It even helps keep your skin and vision healthy.
When your blood sugar levels fall below the normal range, it’s called hypoglycemia. There are many identifiable symptoms of low blood sugar, but the only way to know if you have low blood sugar is by taking a blood glucose test.
Learn more about the symptoms of low blood sugar, as well as the long-term effects on the body.
The most common reasons for low blood sugar are some medications used to treat diabetes, such as insulin.
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or your body can’t use it properly. Too much insulin or oral diabetic medication can lower the blood sugar level, leading to hypoglycemia.
However, contrary to popular belief, low blood sugar isn’t exclusive to diabetes, though it is rare. It can also happen if your body makes more insulin than it should.
Another possible cause of low blood sugar is drinking too much alcohol, especially over long periods of time. This can interfere with the liver’s ability to create a buildup of glucose and then release it into your bloodstream when you need it.
Other causes include:
- kidney disorders
- liver disease
- anorexia nervosa
- pancreatic tumor
- adrenal gland disorders
- sepsis (usually from very severe infections)
When your blood sugar levels are too low, your cells become starved for energy. At first, you might notice minor symptoms, such as hunger and headaches. However, if you don’t get your blood sugar levels up in time, you may be at risk for serious complications.
To keep blood sugar levels from rising too much — called hyperglycemia — you need the right amount of insulin. With insufficient insulin, your blood sugar levels rise. On the other hand, too much insulin may cause your blood sugar to drop quickly.
Read on to learn how low blood sugar affects your body systems.
Digestive, endocrine, and circulatory systems
After you eat, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose. Essentially, glucose is your body’s fuel source.
As your sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which helps glucose get taken up and used by cells throughout your body. If you have insulin-dependent diabetes, you must take the right about of insulin to get the job done.
Any excess glucose goes to your liver for storage.
When you go a few hours without eating, blood sugar levels go down. If you have a healthy pancreas, it releases a hormone called glucagon to make up for the absence of food. This hormone tells your liver to process the stored sugars and release them into your bloodstream.
If everything works as it should, your blood sugar levels should remain in the normal range until your next meal.
Insufficient blood sugar levels can cause a rapid heartbeat and heart palpitations. However, even if you have diabetes, you may not always have obvious symptoms of low blood sugar. This is a potentially dangerous condition called hypoglycemia unawareness. It happens when you experience low blood sugar so often that it changes your body’s response to it.
Normally, low blood sugar causes your body to release stress hormones, such as epinephrine. Epinephrine is responsible for those early warning signs, like hunger and shakiness.
When low blood sugar happens too frequently, your body may stop releasing stress hormones, called hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure, or HAAF. That’s why it’s so important to check your blood sugar levels often.
Oftentimes, low blood sugar can signal immense hunger. However, sometimes low blood sugar can make you lose interest in a meal, even if you’re hungry.
Central nervous system
Low blood sugar levels can also cause a variety of problems within your central nervous system. Early symptoms include weakness, lightheadedness, and dizziness. Headaches can occur from a lack of glucose, especially if you have diabetes.
You may also feel signs of stress, such as nervousness, anxiety, and irritability. When blood sugar levels drop during the night, you may have nightmares, cry out during sleep, or other sleep disturbances.
Lack of coordination, chills, clammy skin, and sweating can happen with low blood sugar. Tingling or numbness of the mouth are other effects that may develop. Additionally, you may experience blurred vision, headache, and confusion. Everyday tasks and coordination prove to be difficult too.
Untreated, severe low blood sugar can be very dangerous. It can result in seizures, loss of consciousness, or death.
Hypoglycemia occurs when the level of sugar in the blood is too low. It can also be called insulin shock or insulin reaction. Hypoglycemia is when the level of sugar in the blood is below 60 mg/dl. Check with your doctor or nurse to find out what blood sugar level is too low for you.
- Taking too much insulin or oral medication
- Not eating all of your meals and snacks or delaying meals and snacks
- Doing more exercise than usual
Hypoglycemia can occur at any time. It is more likely to occur at peak times of insulin actions. It may occur during or after increased activity. It is more likely if you are late eating your food or reduce the amount that you eat.
Signs and symptoms
- Pounding heart
- Personality change
- Confused thinking
- Numbness of lips and tongue
- Blurred Vision
- Slurred or slow speech
Immediately eat or drink something containing “quick acting” sugar. Some possibilities are:
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fruit juice
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup regular soda pop
- 2-3 teaspoons sugar
- 10 gumdrops
- 5-7 lifesavers
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- Over-the-counter sugar tablets or gel
If your symptoms do not disappear in 15 minutes and/or your blood sugar remains less than 80, repeat the treatment. Repeat every 15 minutes until the blood sugar is greater than 80.
If a reaction occurs at a time when you do not plan to eat your next meal or snack for more than 30 minutes, eat food containing starch and protein after you have taken a “quick acting” sugar source and begin to feel better. Foods containing starch and protein are necessary to help prevent another reaction.
Examples of appropriate snacks may be:
- 6 saltine crackers
- 3 graham crackers
- 1/2 meat sandwich
- 1 slice toast and 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup milk
The food eaten for a reaction need not be subtracted from a meal plan.
Obtain a blood sugar when symptoms occur if you are able. If symptoms are severe, treat the reaction first and then obtain a blood sugar. Do not drive nor operate equipment if you feel your blood sugar is low.
If your blood sugar drops low enough for you to become unconscious, you must be taken to the hospital and/or treated with glucagon.
Glucagon is a hormone that causes the blood sugar to rise. It can only be given by injection. It is used to treat a low blood sugar if a person becomes semi-conscious or unconscious due to a severe low blood sugar. Please ask your nurse for instruction on glucagon. Your doctor will need to write a prescription for glucagon so you can have it available at home.
Prevention of low blood sugar
Do not skip or delay meals. If your diet plan includes snacks, make sure to take these.
Measure insulin dosage carefully and inject it properly. If you cannot see well, a family member or a visiting nurse can prepare your insulin injections for you.
Take only the prescribed amount of insulin or oral medication for diabetes that your doctor has ordered.
Keep exercise consistent from day to day. Eat a snack or reduce your insulin prior to unusual exercise.
If you are taking insulin, notify your doctor if you have low blood sugars four or more times per week or if you have a severe low blood sugar. Severe low blood sugars are those less than 40 mg., those requiring help from another person, or those which cause you to have a convulsion or become unconscious.
If you are taking oral medication for your diabetes notify your doctor or nurse if blood sugars are running less than 80 mg. or if you have a severe low blood sugar.
You will need to know and be aware of how you feel when your blood sugar is too low. People have different symptoms and respond differently to treatment. Some people do not have symptoms when their blood sugar is too low. They must depend on blood sugar testing to find out they are too low.
Nighttime low blood sugars
You may experience a low blood sugar night. The low blood sugar might wake you up and your symptoms might be similar to those you have during the day. However, the symptoms may be different. You might have nightmares, sleep poorly, perspire, or feel hot and cold. In the morning you may have a headache, feel nauseated, or feel confused. Notify your doctor if this happens. Check your blood sugar at the time you have the symptoms.
Treatment for a low blood sugar that occurs at night is the same as described earlier.
Your doctor may request that you check a 3:00 a.m. blood sugar 1 to 2 times per week in order to detect any low blood sugars during the night.
Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.
Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) in People Without Diabetes
Is this topic for you?
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is most common in people who have diabetes. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes and need more information about low blood sugar, see the topics:
- Type 1 Diabetes .
- Type 2 Diabetes .
What is low blood sugar?
You may have briefly felt the effects of low blood sugar when you’ve gotten really hungry or exercised hard without eating enough. This happens to nearly everyone from time to time. It’s easy to correct and usually nothing to worry about.
But low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can also be an ongoing problem. It occurs when the level of sugar in your blood drops too low to give your body energy.
What causes hypoglycemia in people who don’t have diabetes?
Ongoing problems with low blood sugar can be caused by:
- Diseases of the liver, kidneys, or pancreas.
- Metabolic problems.
- Alcohol use.
- Stomach surgery.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can be different depending on how low your blood sugar level drops.
- Mild hypoglycemia can make you feel hungry or like you want to vomit. You could also feel jittery or nervous. Your heart may beat fast. You may sweat. Or your skin might turn cold and clammy.
- Moderate hypoglycemia often makes people feel short-tempered, nervous, afraid, or confused. Your vision may blur. You could also feel unsteady or have trouble walking.
- Severe hypoglycemia can cause you to pass out. You could have seizures. It could even cause a coma or death.
If you’ve had hypoglycemia during the night, you may wake up tired or with a headache. And you may have nightmares. Or you may sweat so much during the night that your pajamas or sheets are damp when you wake up.
How is hypoglycemia diagnosed?
To diagnose hypoglycemia, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your health and any medicines you take. You will need blood tests to check your blood sugar levels. Some tests might include not eating (fasting) and watching for symptoms. Other tests might involve eating a meal that could cause symptoms of low blood sugar several hours later. The results of these types of tests can help diagnose the cause.
You may also need tests to look for or rule out health problems that could be affecting your blood sugar levels.
How is it treated?
You can treat a sudden episode of low blood sugar by eating or drinking something with sugar in it. Some examples of “quick-sugar foods” are fruit juice, soda, milk, raisins, and hard candy. You may also take glucose tablets. This is usually all that’s needed to get your blood sugar level back up in the short term.
If your hypoglycemia is caused by a health condition, you may need treatment for that condition. There also may be steps you can take to avoid low blood sugar. For example, talk to your doctor about whether changes in your diet, medicines, or exercise habits might help.
What should you do in an emergency?
If mild or moderate hypoglycemia isn’t treated right away, it can turn into severe hypoglycemia. People with severe hypoglycemia usually pass out. If you pass out, someone should call 911 right away.
If you have a health problem that tends to cause low blood sugar, it’s a good idea to teach your family, friends, and coworkers about what symptoms to watch for and what to do. You may also want to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.
When Blood Sugar Is Too Low
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Hypoglycemia (say: hi-po-gly-SEE-me-uh) is the medical word for low blood sugar level. It needs to be treated right away. Why? Because glucose, or sugar, is the body’s main fuel source. That means your body — including your brain — needs glucose to work properly.
When blood sugar levels go lower than they’re supposed to, you can get very sick. Your parents and your diabetes health care team will tell you what your blood sugar levels should be and what to do if they get too low.
The Causes of Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar levels can happen to kids with diabetes because of the medicines they have to take. Kids with diabetes may need a hormone called insulin and/or diabetes pills to help their bodies use the sugar in their blood. These medicines help take the sugar out of the blood and get it into the body’s cells, which makes the level of sugar in the blood go down.
But sometimes it’s a tricky balancing act, and blood sugar levels can get too low. Kids with diabetes need to keep their blood sugar levels from getting too high or too low. How do they do it? With help from grown-ups, they keep three things in balance:
- taking medicines
Each one of these can affect the other. For instance, eating more might mean a kid needs more insulin. And exercising might create the need for an extra snack. Again, a grown-up can help you learn how to juggle those three activities so you keep feeling good.
Some things that can make low blood sugar levels more likely to happen are:
- skipping meals and snacks
- not eating enough food at a meal or snack
- exercising longer or harder than usual without eating something extra
- getting too much insulin
- not timing the insulin doses properly with meals, snacks, and exercise
- taking a long bath or shower right after an insulin shot
Signs That Blood Sugar Levels Are Low
There are a bunch of symptoms that someone with low blood sugar might have. It’s not the same for everybody. The symptoms are as minor as feeling hungry and as serious as having seizures or passing out. Have you ever had low blood sugar? If so, do you remember how it felt? Noticing those problems early can help you if it happens again.
If you have diabetes and you have low blood sugar, you may:
- feel hungry or have “hunger pains” in your stomach
- feel shaky or like you’re trembling
- have a rapid heart rate
- feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
- have pale, gray skin color
- have a headache
- feel moody or cranky
- feel sleepy
- feel weak
- feel dizzy
- be unsteady or stagger when walking
- have blurred or double vision
- feel confused
- have seizures
- pass out
If you think your blood sugar level could be low, tell a parent, teacher, or whoever is taking care of you. An adult can help you test your blood and get you treatment so you start feeling better.
How Are Low Blood Sugar Levels Treated?
When blood sugar levels are low, the goal is to get them back up quickly. Most kids who have low blood sugar need to:
- eat, drink, or take something that contains sugar that can get into the blood quickly. Your mom or dad may give you really sugary foods or drinks, like regular soda, orange juice, cake frosting, glucose tablets, or glucose gel (a tube of sugary gel)
- wait about 10 minutes to let the sugar work
- recheck their blood sugar levels with a blood glucose meter to see if the levels are back to normal
Sometimes, blood sugar levels can get very low and you might not feel well enough or be awake enough to eat or drink something sugary. When this happens, kids need to get a glucagon shot. Glucagon (say: GLOO-kuh-gon) is a hormone that helps get your blood sugar level back to normal very quickly. Your doctor and diabetes health care team can tell you if you need to keep these shots on hand and will help you and your parents understand when it’s necessary to use one.
Your parents and other grown-ups who take care of you should know how to give glucagon shots. If you don’t have a glucagon shot — or the person you’re with doesn’t know how to use one — someone should call 911.
Can You Prevent Low Blood Sugar?
Hypoglycemia might sound a little scary, so you might wonder if you can avoid it. No matter how well they take care of themselves, kids with diabetes will sometimes have low blood sugar levels. But taking these steps can help:
- Try to eat all your meals and snacks on time and don’t skip any.
- Take the right amount of insulin.
- If you exercise longer or harder than usual, have an extra snack.
- Don’t take a hot bath or shower right after an insulin shot.
- Stick to your diabetes management plan.
What else can you do? Wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace that says you have diabetes. Then, if you are not feeling well, whoever’s helping you — even if the person doesn’t know you — will know to call for medical help. Medical identification also can include your doctor’s phone number or a parent’s phone number. The quicker you get help, the quicker you’ll be feeling better.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD Date reviewed: September 2016
Hypos with emergency assistance – what happens during a diabetic emergency?
Upon arrival, they will check if you are breathing and then blood pressure. They are also scanning for any sort of medical ID – a bracelet, a necklace, maybe even a tattoo. Those I interviewed mentioned this without my prompting, which I found reassuring, and also said they check thoroughly as soon as possible.
That being said, I’ve also heard from others who say rescuers missed very visible and plain medical IDs. If you’re not responsive the next check is blood sugar. And BAAAAM – low blood sugar confirmed.
If you are completely unconscious then a glucagon rescue injection or glucose solution IV is necessary, and not everyone can administer these treatments. A glucose solution IV, for example, can only be given by an emergency doctor or a paramedic who is qualified to start an IV (it requires venous access).
Paramedics or first responders without these skills can administer glucose gels, but only if you are conscious. This makes sense, right? If you are unconscious and people start putting stuff in your mouth, you could choke on it.
A glucose solution IV usually works very quickly. Often in a matter of minutes, you’ll wake up and your monster will have calmed down.
Once you’re awake and starting to feel better, another blood sugar check is done. If your BG is back to normal you can decide if you want to go to the hospital or not. The emergency doctor involved will also be very involved in this decision.
If your BG does not come back up to normal after a few minutes you’ll be transported to the nearest hospital. You’ll be checked from top to bottom and given more glucose until you’re back up to normal.
Every clue helps
A tip for those calling rescue on our behalf: Take a quick survey of our stuff – even a quick look in our purse or pockets – and let the emergency center know if you see any medical looking stuff. A blood glucose meter, a bottle of glucose tabs, maybe even an emergency card. It’s all really helpful information to the emergency center.
Turn on our phones, too. Is there an ICE contact (ICE stands for In Case of Emergency) or Emergency information on the home screen? Did you know iPhone users with iOS 8 or higher can add emergency info to their lock screen?
October 16, 2013 | By Dr. Ronald Hoffman
Americans love to “carbo-load.” We are a society in love with carbohydrates—and it shows in our poor health standing versus some of the other industrialized nations of the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes contributed to a total of 224,092 deaths in 2002—all stemming from poor eating habits (source: www.cdc.gov). But Americans don’t get their nutrition information from the government or even from their doctors — they get it from advertising. Though we talk up things like fiber, what is often palmed off as a high-fiber food is a highly refined commercial “brown” bread made of food coloring and white flour in a wrapper depicting a log cabin on the front —a far cry from the fiber intake of our Stone-Age ancestors: roots, shoots, foliage and occasional berries.
In essence, hypoglycemia is low blood sugar, and it is increasingly prevalent in our society. Hypoglycemia can cause an array of symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, mood changes, PMS, sugar cravings, headaches, difficulty concentrating, tremors, temperamental outbursts, depression, excessive sweating, hot flashes, palpitations, cold extremities, abdominal pain and panic attacks.
If you have any of these symptoms, the next time you go to a doctor try asking him or her if the symptoms you experience could be due to hypoglycemia. You may provoke a bemused or annoyed look, or perhaps your doctor will, in fact, suggest a glucose tolerance test. Don’t bother. Glucose tolerance tests, as performed conventionally, are not designed to detect hypoglycemia until or unless it has reached a very extreme level.
The truth is that hypoglycemia is far more prevalent than we’re led to believe. Studies show that even in its full-blown form it often is misdiagnosed. Consider this example: In one study of 39 patients who had tumors in the pancreas, a condition causing profound hypoglycemia, eight were first diagnosed with epilepsy or neurosis! Detection and diagnosis of hypoglycemia can lead to treatment that can totally correct this condition. Even if the symptoms are vague and seemingly subjective (which makes most doctors want to shy away from this diagnosis), if you’re the one experiencing them, they can destroy the quality of your life.
Why so many different kinds of symptoms? To learn the answer to that, we have to explore the physiology of low blood sugar.
The body is designed to digest and assimilate three primary nutrients: proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Proteins and fats can be used for energy, but their conversion to forms usable by the body is gradual, not immediate. By contrast, carbohydrates are all more or less readily digested into sugar. Low-glycemic carbohydrates such as many vegetables and beans provide a slow time-release of the sugar they contain in their complex molecules of starch mixed with fiber. The presence of natural starch-blockers in beans further slows the sugar liberation process. This is why if you have bean soup for lunch you probably won’t feel hungry till dinner.
On the other hand, sugars and refined carbohydrates provide a rapid sugar fix. This results in an immediate, pleasant sense of gratification, sometimes even a mild drowsiness. It’s the familiar sugar high. But then, in response to so much sugar in the blood, the body calls upon its insulin reserves, generated by the pancreas, to lower the blood sugar. This often happens precipitously, sometimes with crashing rapidity.
Experiments have now confirmed what the hypoglycemic person experiences. Low blood sugar triggers hunger—especially carbohydrate craving. In addition, the brain is starved for its preferred fuel: glucose. At rest, the brain consumes one-third of the body’s total glucose requirement. The brain is a hungry, rapidly metabolizing organ, and fuel shortages in it create problems with concentration, memory and mood. A recent study showed that individuals with low blood sugar scored poorly on tasks requiring memory, concentration and reasoning.
But perhaps most important, low blood sugar triggers an outpouring of counter-regulatory hormones (catecholamines) from the adrenals. These hormones oppose the action of insulin and push blood sugar levels back up. Unfortunately for the hypoglycemic person, these “rescue” hormones are the very same ones that produce the adrenaline rush of a fight-or-flight reaction. The results are symptoms including palpitations, sweaty palms, nervousness, tremor and sometimes even severe panic attacks.
If you think you suffer from blood sugar swings, what can you do? The best idea is to test yourself by going off sugar completely. Ultimately, it’s the way that works best. The results can seem quite disastrous at first. Many of my patients report a week of severe fatigue and almost supernatural cravings for sugar. Their concentration may be affected, and they may feel fidgety, irritable and deeply depressed. I’m often inundated with phone calls in that first week. Some of them will be very resourceful in trying to sneak sugar into their diets. “Gee, Doc,” a patient will say, “I just found something in the health food store called barley malt. And rice syrup. Those are OK, aren’t they?” Actually they’re not. Along with honey, maple syrup, dextrin, maltose, Sucanat, fructose, corn syrup, sugar cane syrup, organic cane juice and molasses, they are simply alternative forms of sugar and should all be avoided when you are going off sugar completely. Note, too, that when manufacturers use the term sugar-free or sugarless, they generally mean that no sucrose is added, but other sugars may be.
I don’t relish being a food policeman. We should all do our own self-policing if we are going to kick the sugar habit. This initial period of withdrawal is sometimes tough because sugar is as addictive as any drug. In fact, I have a hunch that the same hereditary susceptibility that leads to alcoholism may be involved in sugar addiction. Virtually all recovering alcoholics become carboholics. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that alcoholics don’t consume that much sugar until they withdraw from alcohol. And another study recently showed that alcoholics favor high-sugar beverages at three times the rate of non-alcoholics. Many of my patients who are “carboholics” have a family history of alcoholism. “I don’t drink alcohol, Dr. Hoffman. We’ve had enough of that in our family.” Yet, they are addicted to sugar.
According to remarkable studies by Judith and Richard Wurtman of MIT, sugar tends to change the way the blood-brain barrier selects the appropriate amino-acid building blocks of brain chemicals. Carbohydrate intake promotes uptake of the amino acid tryptophan, which is the building block for a brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is a proven tranquilizer. Certain individuals suffer major depression as a result of low levels of serotonin in the brain.
Because sugar may combat depression, some researchers suggest using sugary snacks to “feed” the brain as a therapy. I disagree. My belief is that sugar perpetuates a cycle of craving and bingeing. I would recommend tryptophan (which was formerly a treatment for depression, particularly in Great Britain), but because of a much-publicized incident of tryptophan contamination that resulted in tragic poisoning, this amino acid was taken off the market in 1989. The subsequent popularity of the Prozac family of antidepressants attests to the primacy of serotonin in the biochemistry of well-being. Unfortunately, these medications bring with them many undesirable side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, visual disturbances and weight gain.
There is an alternative, however. A recent study suggests the mineral chromium, found in such foods as meat, broccoli, apples and whole grains, may be useful in treating atypical (common) depression, particularly when carbohydrate cravings are present. Chromium enhances the action of insulin, which delivers glucose to the cells thereby stabilizing blood sugar, which is key in regulating mood and diminishing cravings. There also is ample scientific evidence that asserts that chromium reduces risk factors for heart disease in individuals with type 2 diabetes. In fact, a deficiency in chromium is shown to cause disturbances in lipid metabolism, elevating triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in the blood and decreasing HDL. Such a deficiency also disrupts carbohydrate metabolism, inducing hypoglycemia and impaired glucose tolerance.
There’s more good news: Clinical findings show a reduction in carbohydrate cravings and improvement in energy levels in as little as one day of beginning a chromium supplement regimen. It is worth mentioning that additional vitamin C increases the absorption of this important mineral. Recommended doses are between 3 and 5 micrograms (mcg) of chromium picolinate per pound of body weight, preferably under the supervision of an experienced physician or nutritionist.
By far, the best answer is to switch to a diet emphasizing protein, healthy fats and low-glycemic carbohydrates, which provides the body with slowly released and steady levels of blood sugar. This attests to the value of nutrition and supplementation in the treatment of hypoglycemia.
Is it Hot Flashes or Low Blood Sugar?
Menopause gets a bad rap and deservedly so, but some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, may not be caused by menopause. It might be because we’re not taking proper care of ourselves.
Here’s my story (remember, it’s my story and not medical advice). I’m well within my menopause years and had suffered from my share of hot flashes. I found a solution to my hot flashes so I no longer suffer with them.
Unexpected Night Sweats
Not too long ago I started suffering from night sweats. These night sweats weren’t like hot flashes. With hot flashes, I used to get the pre-flash tingling. There was no tingling with these night sweats. The only clue of my nightly sweats was damp sleepwear. I wasn’t uncomfortable or overheated, just noticed that my night clothes had been sweat through.
Around the same week of my night sweats, I also noticed periodic heart palpitations during the day. In addition to the palpitations, I developed a headache that wouldn’t quit. Normally when I get a headache I know that it’s my body’s way of telling me that something wasn’t right. Usually, I’m dehydrated, hungry or tired.
When I first got the headache at the beginning of the week, I increased my fluid intake which didn’t do anything to mitigate the headache. Then I ate a meal thinking that would help it but it didn’t. I knew I was in trouble when the headache persisted during my sleep hours. I’ve never had a headache that hurt when I slept.
Solving the Night Sweat Problem
After the third day, I knew I had to ramp things up a bit. What I discovered that I was causing my own problems. I have a tendency to go for long stretches of time between meals (I’m talking 6, 7 or 8-hour gaps). I’m not one to run to the doctor often so I thought I’d do a quick research online to find out what the possible causes could be.
The apparent recurring diagnosis to match my symptoms was low blood sugar (aka hypoglycemia). I had a mild case that was trying to tiptoe its way into a moderate case. The symptoms I found were a hand in glove fit for what I was feeling. Last time I had low blood sugar problems was during pregnancy.
A Few Simple Dietary Changes
Because I was feeling rode hard and put up wet (my hubby’s favorite saying), I knew it was time to make some changes (no matter how much I hated to eat breakfast). I immediately started eating small meals spaced no more than 2 hours apart. If you’re used to going long spaces of time between meals, eating frequently is difficult. I had to set my timer to remind myself to eat.
Within 24 hours of eating small meals throughout the day, my headache was gone. Shortly thereafter, the palpitations and handshakes also disappeared. My energy level started to return and I was feeling a lot better. Oh, and the night sweats, they disappeared after the first 24 hours. In other words, the symptoms that I would have attributed to menopause were not menopausal symptoms at all. It was the result of low blood sugar and inconsistent eating patterns.
Knowing Yourself and Your Body
All too often we run to the medicine cabinet or fill a prescription to quell an unwanted symptom. Between the night sweats, heart palpitations, headaches and general run down feeling, I could have taken a bevy of drugs to quiet the symptoms. Instead, I chose to give my body what it really needed.
This is not medical advice, just one person’s story.