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Blood Glucose Guidelines-Treating Lows

Do you have Diabetes? Do you know how to treat a low blood glucose (blood sugar)? Do you know what to do when having a high blood glucose? Stay tuned for more blogs related to high blood glucose levels. This blog will focus on low blood glucose level treatment.

It has been awhile since I've written a blog. I've been to multiple conferences within the past month that helped me receive continuing education to maintain my RDN and CDE credentials. However, there was such a variety of topics that I either learned about new research or it reviewed the information I have already learned in my 12 years in this field.

What that all means is that I had so many avenues for upcoming blogs. However, after this past weekend, in my discussion with a family member (whom shall remain anonymous), when we were discussing diabetes, etc. the topic of having a "low" was brought up. Then I realized that over the years in diabetes education, so many people within the hospital and at homes and workplaces and public places are treating lows incorrectly. Hence, this is why I wanted to make this my topic of choice.

First of all, what are the symptoms of a low blood glucose? Dizzy, confusion, shaky, trembling, sweaty, tired, thirsty, hungry, erratic driving, and agitation are some examples. Also, the symptoms can vary per person. So, please pay attention to your symptoms so you know what to look for in the future.

If you have any of the above symptoms or are just not feeling right, the number one priority is checking your blood sugar. Is that within the normal range? What is the normal range? General guidelines include a blood glucose 70mg/dl or somewhat higher. If it is below 70 mg/dl, you need to treat with appropriate carbohydrates to get your blood glucose level to a healthier range and with the correct food options. If you have agreed upon a different number with your CDE and physician, please adhere to those guidelines instead.

So, let's say your blood glucose is 65 mg/dl. It could be due to you exercising more or taking too much diabetes medication or insulin when you didn't eat enough carbohydrates. If your blood glucose is 51 mg/dl-69mg/dl, you need to treat yourself with 15 grams of pure carbohydrates. "Pure carbohydrates" includes items such as glucose tablets (usually 4-5 tablets is serving size for 15 grams of carbohydrates) or 1/2 cup of orange or apple juice (equal to 15 grams of carbohydrates) or 1/3 cup grape or cranberry juice, or a gel frosting tube (15 grams of carbohydrate).

After treating with 15 grams of carbohydrates, wait 15 minutes. Recheck blood glucose. If blood glucose is less than 70 mg/dl, retreat with the appropriate amount of carbohydrates. If bood glucose is above 70 mg/dl, have a mixed snack (a combination of carbohydrates and protein) such as cheese and crackers, apple and peanut butter or apple and almond butter, 1/2 sandwich with meat/cheese and bread, or some types of granola bars would work too.

Pay attention to your blood glucose especially within the next 24 hours as this is when you may have another low, but may not recognize the symptoms as quickly or you may not have symptoms this time.

If your blood glucose is less than 50 mg/dl, you need 30 grams of pure carbohydrates such as 1 cup apple or orange juice or 8-10 glucose tablets. Treat and recheck within 15 minutes and then eat a combination snack if your blood glucose is above 70 mg/dl.

If your blood glucose is less than 50 mg/dl, make sure you continue treating, are with another person and call 911 to be safe. You don't know if your blood glucose will continue to drop or start to go up and it is better to be safe!

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