I don’t tend to have many severe blood glucose lows. They don’t happen often, but when I do have them, I don’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary, which scares me a bit. One of those occasions was Tuesday morning. I woke up, got ready for work, and then tested my blood glucose before breakfast to find that it was only 39 mg/dL, quite on the low side.
I’m not sure what caused this, exactly, but I think it may have been caused by eating too little the day before as I got busy and didn’t eat large meals. Before bed time, I snacked on a few almonds, but it seems my body burned through those quickly during the night and wasn’t enough to prevent me from going low. I didn’t exercise that day, so I know that’s not what caused the severe low.
I was feeling normal that morning, but quickly started to look around for some carbs as I know lows have to be treated immediately. I ate one of my husband’s multi-grain english muffins (26g carb) plus a bit of white bread (10g of extra carb, just in case the multi-grain was too slow acting) with my usual breakfast omelet. I checked 20 minutes later and was already 123mg/dL so I figured that when I took the bus to work, I should get off at an earlier bus stop before arriving at work to walk it off a bit, so my blood glucose wouldn’t be so high. I checked 2 hours later and was 74mg/dL. Still low for the amount of bread I ate (although I know walking for 10 minutes or so after getting off the bus must have lowered it a bit). I was then continuously in the 70s to low 80s for the rest of the day, even after lunch. Therefore, I had to keep snacking on things until dinner time. After dinner, I finally was up to 101 mg/dL, which made me feel a lot better.
I find it a bit strange that I don’t notice the usual symptoms of hunger, shakiness, confusion, etc, that are associated with low blood glucose levels. It’s quite the opposite for me, actually. Now that my blood glucose levels have been stable for some time, I notice when I’m going high very quickly, but not when I’m low. It feels awful when I feel my blood glucose going up! I feel as if I have had too much caffeine and start getting jittery. This happens when I have to eat a faster acting carb after seeing a low on my meter. Needless to say, after eating faster acting carbs to treat a low, I feel terrible the rest of the day. Plus, my blood glucose gets harder to control the rest of the day as it’s on an up and down roller coaster and is not very stable (tends to be too high or too low the rest of the day). This day was no exception, I felt like death the rest of the day. Very little energy, brain foggy, and found it very hard to focus on anything. After dinner, when I finally got up to 101 mg/dL after being on the low side all day, I was finally feeling more like myself again.
Given that I don’t seem to be having any symptoms when I’m low, I think I may be having more lows than I realize and my body now seems to be thinking that’s “normal”. I wonder if I need more carbohydrate in my diet now that I am more active and that’s why my blood glucose levels seem to be on the lower side whenever I check (68s, low 70s)? I guess I’m back to testing more often now to see what’s up.
Now, to close this blog post, a few lessons I personally learned from this hypoglycemia event and want to share:
- Type 2 diabetics can also have lows-Just because I have type 2 diabetes and am not on insulin or medication, I can still have lows. I should be well prepared, just in case.
- Always have fast acting carbs on hand-I realized I am not very well prepared for treating lows when I’m on the go and need to add some fast acting carbs to my purse. In this case, I was lucky that I was at home and could reach out for some bread. My purse has some almonds in it, which I’ve munched on from time to time if I’m feeling hungry and I’m out. However, almonds aren’t fast acting so if I find myself super low, I’ll need something that raises my blood glucose levels fast (like glucose tablets, juice, etc).
- Eat enough food every day-I need to make sure to eat enough food every day to keep my blood glucose levels more stable and in check to avoid lows.
- Don’t panic about lows-Since I don’t have lows very often (and I have never seen a low like this one) I do tend to stress out a bit whenever I see one as even after treating it, I worry that the roller coaster ride of blood glucose going up will make it crash down again and I won’t notice that I’m low again. I need to learn to calm down, treat it immediately, check 20 minutes after to see if I’m no longer low, repeat the procedure if still low, and let it go. I cannot let it affect me for the rest of the day.
Luckily, I have an appointment with a nutritionist this week and plan to ask for advice regarding these lows. I hope she has some helpful suggestions for me regarding my diet and avoiding blood glucose lows. We’ll see how it goes. Will post an update on this later this week. 🙂