If you’re living with diabetes or have been recently diagnosed, you surely have questions and concerns about this chronic condition. This is the next installment in a series of frequently asked questions about diabetes, with answers from a Spectrum Health team of doctors, nurses, dietitians and educators. To see other Q&A posts, visit Health Beat’s diabetes headquarters.
How do I know my blood-sugar problem isn’t just low blood sugar?
Some people who say they have low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, also say they eat meals infrequently, perhaps only once a day. More regular meals will help. But those with persistent symptoms, such as feeling shaky, should check their blood-sugar level. That’s the best way to know for sure.
Mild hypoglycemia may be an indicator of what’s called hyperinsulin anemia, or high insulin levels. We see that in people when they’re in the early stages of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body doesn’t use insulin as efficiently as it should. When eating a high carbohydrate meal, some people produce more insulin than the body needs to keep their blood sugar normal. This causes the level of blood sugar to go up, and then, after some time has passed, the blood sugar drops significantly. Those people will feel a little tired and shaky.
If that’s what’s happening with you, it may be an early warning sign for pre-diabetes, and it means that now’s a good time for diet, exercise and weight loss. Become more watchful of the food you eat as well as portion size. Exercise regularly and lose excess weight. Taking these steps can prevent pre-diabetes from becoming Type 2 diabetes.
If your symptoms persist, it’s time for further testing. Diabetes may have developed in your system, and it deserves your attention. Ignoring it will put you at risk for complications, including heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
I do have diabetes. Do I have to worry about having hypoglycemia, too?
Some diabetes medications can have unintended side effects, such as weight gain or hypoglycemia. But there are new medications for those with Type 2 diabetes that don’t cause low blood sugar. Talk to your doctor about these. They’re readily available.