For individuals with diabetes, hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels drop below 70 mg/dL due to excess insulin in the body or due to increased glucose absorption. Hypoglycemia can also occur in people without diabetes, but when diabetes is present the risk of hypoglycemia increases and is a constant concern.
Studies show that continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology reduces the frequency of hypoglycemia in individuals with diabetes.
What is Continuous Glucose Monitoring?
Continuous glucose monitoring is a technology that checks blood glucose levels multiple times during the day and night through the use of a sensor. The readings produced from a continuous glucose monitoring device provide a pattern of blood glucose levels, and real-time alerts and alarms when glucose levels are moving up or down at an accelerated rate.
How Does Continuous Glucose Monitoring Help Lower the Risk of Hypoglycemia?
In addition to real-time alerts and alarms to help prevent hypoglycemia before it happens, , the patterns that can be identified in CGM data over time can be used by your healthcare provider to help create a management care plan specific to your needs. Blood glucose patterns may also help detect fluctuations in glucose levels during sleep, which can uncover episodes of hypoglycemia that often go undetected.
The benefits of continuous glucose monitoring may be enhanced when used with insulin pump therapy on a near-daily basis. A touchscreen insulin pump integrated with a continuous glucose monitor provides convenient diabetes management with a simple interface that may help individuals manage diabetes and potentially avoid health complications associated with blood glucose levels that are too high or too low.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hypoglycemia?
If not detected early, hypoglycemia may cause serious health complications. For this reason, it’s essential to understand the warning signs of low blood sugar in order to be able to treat it as quickly as possible.
Common signs of hypoglycemia according to the American Diabetes Association include:
Shakiness, nervousness, or anxiety
Sweating, chills, and clamminess
Irritability or impatience
Confusion, including delirium rapid/fast heartbeat
Lightheadedness or dizziness
Hunger and nausea
Blurred or impaired vision
Tingling or numbness in the lips or tongue
Weakness or fatigue
Anger, stubbornness, or sadness
Lack of coordination
Nightmares or crying out during sleep
What Causes Hypoglycemia in Individuals with Diabetes?
Hypoglycemia can be the result of several factors. Taking too much insulin causes the body to absorb increased amounts of sugar from the blood, resulting in low blood sugar. Delaying or skipping a meal may cause blood sugar levels to drop and can leave the body without the means to replenish glucose levels.
Additionally, intense exercise or exercising more than usual can cause blood sugar levels to drop for as long as 24 hours after exercise. While performing physical activity, the body uses sugar that is stored in the muscles and liver, as well as glucose that is circulating in the blood. After exercise, when the body is restoring glucose levels, an individual with diabetes may be at a higher risk of experiencing hypoglycemia.
Speak with Your Doctor
Work closely with your doctor and your diabetes management team to understand more about hypoglycemia and whether a continuous glucose monitor might be beneficial to your specific treatment needs.