Learning to Recognize Low Blood Sugar

Learning to Recognize Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar can happen anywhere. Whether you’re a top athlete or a stay-at-home mom, a sugar crash can be a severe issue. Learning to recognize low sugar can help you save yourself from a full-blown crash before it gets bad. If you experience the following symptoms, you may be dealing with low blood sugar.

Sudden Irritability 

One of the first symptoms you may experience with a blood sugar imbalance is sudden irritability. To understand why you first need to understand what role blood sugar plays in your body. When your gut digests a meal, it sends the sugars to the bloodstream. These sugar molecules are used by cells all over the body to fuel cellular processes and growth. The blood carries the glucose to the places that need it, and your body continues working like normal.

When your sugar is low, the cells in your body don’t have their main energy source. To accommodate for this loss, your body starts releasing extra epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline. This surge of fight-or-flight hormone in your body can lead to sudden confusion and irritability due to a lack of stressor. Because you aren’t producing this adrenaline in response to a threat, it’s hard to justify the feelings in your mind, thus leading to irritation or anxiety. If you suddenly get grumpy or nervous during your day, a simple snack may be the best remedy.

Light-Headedness or Dizziness

Another common symptom of low blood sugar is light-headedness and dizziness. Because glucose fuels the body, a sudden absence of it leads to lower energy levels. Your body loses its main source of fuel and has to attempt to conserve what energy it has to prevent cell death. When your brain sends the order to the different body systems to stop unnecessary processes, it can leave you feeling shaky and dizzy. In severe cases, this dizziness can lead to blurred vision or a blackout, so it’s essential to balance your blood sugar right away.

If you start feeling lightheaded during your day, you may have low blood sugar. The best way to bring your glucose levels back to normal is by eating. A snack high in sugar, such as candy, juice, or soda, can give the body a rush of glucose enough to tide you over until mealtime. While these things aren’t as good for long-lasting sugar as healthy meal options, they will get you out of a crisis. If you’re prone to low blood sugar due to a medical condition or medication, it may be wise to keep an emergency stash of candy with you. However, if your dizziness and light-headedness persist despite efforts to fix them, it may be in your best interest to see a doctor.

Rapid Heart Rate

Finally, rapid heart rate and sweating can both be symptoms of low blood sugar. While this may seem odd due to the body trying to conserve energy, there is an explanation for both of these symptoms. Thanks to the introduction of adrenaline in a sugar crash, the heart starts pumping faster to get more nutrients from the blood to the cells. While a slight increase in heart rate may be unnoticeable, the heart will seem to pound both harder and faster when your sugar is low. This high heart rate can contribute to feelings of anxiety or discomfort but can be treated by getting a snack and doing some calming exercises.

Another aspect of the high heart rate is sweating. When your heart is working overtime, your muscles are flooded with blood. This rush of blood puts extra heat into your tissues, leading to your body attempting to cool down through sweating. Depending on how severe your body’s low sugar response is, you could also be in danger of dehydrating. If you start sweating because of low sugar, drinking a sports drink such as Gatorade can help.

Knowing how to recognize low blood sugar can help you treat it. While occasional low sugar is normal, persistent issues should be brought up with your doctor.

Charlotte Joy