Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia
By Paula Cerqueira, Dietetic Intern
Hyperglycemia is the medical term for high blood sugar. It occurs when the pancreas produces too little insulin, or when the body becomes resistant to insulin. Hyperglycemia happens every now and then to all people living with diabetes. If your blood glucose values are consistently running higher than the norm, talk with your healthcare provider.
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar (< 70 mg/dL) and results from too much insulin and too little sugar in the blood. If blood glucose drops below 50 mg/dL, this could result in unconsciousness, a condition sometimes called insulin shock or coma. Hypoglycemia can be caused by skipping or delaying meals, eating too few carbohydrates, exercising longer or more strenuously than normal, taking too much insulin and drinking alcohol. It’s important to learn to identify the symptoms of hypoglycemia so you can treat it quickly. Symptoms include: shakiness, dizziness, sweating, hunger, headache, pale skin color, sudden moodiness, seizure, and confusion. Hypoglycemia can be treated by following the 15/15 guideline to raise blood glucose above 70 mg/dL – test blood sugar, consume 15 g of carbohydrate and test blood sugar in 15 minutes. If blood sugar remains low, consume an additional 15 g of carbohydrate and test blood glucose in 15 minutes and then in 60 minutes. Once normal, consume a regular meal. Fifteen grams of carbohydrate is about 4 oz of juice, 6 oz of soft drink, 5 hard candies, 4 glucose tablets, or 1 tablespoon sugar.