Diabetes: Signs of low blood sugar in the morning

When you choose extended overnight fasting, do you wake up with dizziness or confusion? This may be due to low blood sugar levels in the morning. This is especially true for people who have lived with diabetes. Do not take hypoglycemia lightly. On World Diabetes Day, which falls on November 14 every year, we tell you the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar in the morning.

Looking at global data, according to the World Health Organization, approximately 422 million people live with diabetes. As many as 1.5 million deaths annually are directly attributed to diabetes. So more awareness about how to recognize low blood sugar and what to do about it is important.

Low blood sugar mainly affects people with diabetes. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What is low blood sugar?

Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by a reduction in glucose levels 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 people without diabetes who may have other underlying health conditions.

What Causes Low Blood Sugar in the Morning?

There can be several causes for low blood sugar in the morning, and identifying these factors is essential to effectively manage the condition. Some common causes of hypoglycemia include:

1. Prolonged overnight fasting

Not eating for long periods of time, especially in people with diabetes, can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels.

2. Medicines

Certain diabetes medications, especially long-acting diabetes medications such as 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.

3. Increased physical activity

Engaging in physical activity, especially right before bedtime, is not a good idea. This is because the body uses glucose for energy during exercise.

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4. Organ failure

Chronic kidney disease or other organ failure can affect the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, the expert tells Health Shots.

5. Hormonal imbalances

Certain hormonal imbalances, such as low adrenal gland function or low growth hormone levels, can lead to low blood sugar.

6. Gastrointestinal problems

Vomiting or diarrhea can lead to a loss of glucose and in turn contribute to low blood glucose in the morning.

7. Low-carb diet

You might think that eating foods low in carbohydrates is a good way to lose weight. But following a very low carbohydrate diet can lead to reduced glucose availability.

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What are the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar in the morning?

You may not experience all the symptoms of low blood sugar, but there are some common symptoms to look out for.

1. Fast heart rate

An increased heart rate is the body’s response to low blood glucose, as it tries to compensate for the glucose deficiency by pumping the blood faster.

Health Shots recommends: 5 Best Continuous Glucose Monitors for Diabetics

blood sugar testing
Know the signs of low blood sugar in the morning. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Shake

Shaking or shaking, especially in the hands, can occur due to the body’s stress response to low blood glucose, says Dr. Abraham.

3. Sweating

Excessive sweating can be a symptom of low blood glucose, as the body tries to cool itself when it senses a threat.

4. Nervousness or anxiety

Low blood glucose can cause feelings of nervousness or anxiety due to the body’s stress response.

5. Irritability or confusion

Low blood glucose can affect mood and cognitive function, leading to irritability and confusion.

6. Dizziness

Dizziness is a common symptom and may result from the brain not receiving enough glucose for optimal function.

7. Loss of coordination

Low blood glucose can affect motor skills and coordination, making it difficult to perform daily tasks.

8. Headache

Headaches can develop due to low blood glucose that affects blood vessels and brain function.

What should you do if you have low blood sugar?

The treatment for low blood sugar depends on the severity of the condition.

  1. 15-15 rule

For blood glucose levels lower than 70 mg/dl, but not severely low, you can follow the 15-15 rule. Consume 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates (for example glucose tablets, fruit juice or regular soft drinks), wait 15 minutes and then check the blood sugar level again. If levels remain low, repeat the process until they stabilize, the expert says. Once stabilized, eat your meal.

2. Injectable glucagon (intramuscular)

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 quickly raise blood sugar levels.

If you are regularly at risk of low blood sugar, inform your friends, family and colleagues about how to test blood sugar levels and how to provide first aid in case of severe low blood sugar.

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