We often hear about the dangers of consuming too much sweet junk food and candy, but did you know that sugars are essential to body function? Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar. This condition commonly affects diabetics who have taken too much insulin, over exerted themselves, or missed a meal.
It can also occur as a side effect of other illnesses, like Addison’s disease. When blood sugar levels drop below four milimoles per litre, sufferers may feel extremely hungry or begin trembling and sweating. In more severe cases, disorientation and inability to focus may also occur.
The symptoms of hypoglycaemia overlap with those of hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), and it can be difficult to determine which is occurring. However, the NHS recommends that diabetics experiencing these signs respond as if they had low blood sugar to prevent their glucose levels from dropping even more.
Without a rapid response to the symptoms associated with hypoglycaemia, blood sugar levels will continue to plummet and may even eventually cause unconsciousness as the brain is starved of glucose. Here are four fast-acting cures for the effects of hypoglycaemia:
1) Grab a sugary drink or food
Candies, milk chocolate, and fruit drinks all contain large amounts of sugar. Consuming one of these treats will quickly spike your blood glucose levels and restore your normal body function. Regular sodas (not diet varieties), diluted honey, and milk can also prevent collapse during a hypoglycaemic episode, but know that this is not enough to sustain healthy blood glucose levels.
2) Eat carbs straight away
Carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, cereals, and starches are converted into sugar by the body during digestion. Therefore, after raising your blood sugar levels with a quick fix candy, you should try to get a hold of a sandwich or some biscuits. This will keep blood sugar levels normal for longer since it takes your body more time to extract the sugar in carbohydrates.
3) Carry glucose or dextrose tablets
Sugar tablets have the advantage of being easily portable, so you can always keep them with you. In fact, hypoglycaemia sufferers should always carry these tablets, as they can restore blood sugar levels up to two times faster than sugary foods. You do not require a prescription to buy these tablets, and so they can be purchased on the go as needed.
4) Injectable glucagons
In extreme cases, such as in the event of unconsciousness caused by low blood sugar levels, hormone injections of glucagon will quickly restore blood sugar levels. Having a vial and syringes on hand in case of emergency would be wise for anyone with type 1 diabetes.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you frequently suffer from hypoglycaemic episodes, make sure you limit your alcohol intake, follow a balanced diet, and fuel up by eating carbs before exercising. Make sure that those around you know you are prone to low blood sugar by telling friends and family, or by carrying identification letting others know about your condition.