Blood sugar levels rise and fall as the body does its business. Insulin is responsible for lowering blood sugar. This is the basic and common answer as to what causes blood sugar to drop rapidly: insulin.
Of course, this basic answer doesn’t explain why blood sugar levels might drop more quickly than normal, or what else influences the body in its glycemic descent.
Let’s take a closer look!
Why is Insulin a Factor in low Blood Sugar?
Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to enter the cells from the blood – which lowers blood glucose levels. In people without diabetes, the pancreas knows how much insulin it needs to release in order to lower blood sugar.
But for people with diabetes – when deciding themselves how much insulin is needed – this is less straightforward. A person can have a good understanding of what the body might need, through calculations.
But there is a great deal to consider, which can be overwhelming sometimes. As a result, errors in calculating insulin can and do occur. That’s why diabetes applications – like Hedia, wink, wink – exist.
For instance, Hedia’s insulin calculator will take away the worries of figuring it out for yourself, and should lead to more accurate results. In turn, this means that a rapid drop in blood sugar should be less likely.
But it’s not only about human errors or miscalculations. It’s also about the nature of insulin medication.
Specifically, many people with diabetes nowadays use rapid-acting insulin at mealtimes in order to counteract the rapid rise in blood glucose.
And if you’ve missed the mark on how much insulin you need, the insulin will continue to rapidly lower blood sugar, even when it doesn’t need to. Rapid-acting insulin is active in the body between 2 and 5 hours.
Of course, basal insulin – often, long-acting insulin – will also continue to slowly lower blood sugar in the background. So, it’s always a good idea to keep checking blood sugar levels throughout the day – but especially in the hours after eating.
What Causes Blood Sugar to drop Rapidly – apart from too much Insulin?
Clearly, then, too much insulin is what causes blood sugar to drop rapidly. But there’s more to it than simply taking too much insulin.
Skipping meals or eating less than what you’re used to will also mean having too much insulin in the body.
In addition, the body’s sensitivity to insulin can change throughout the day. The greater the insulin sensitivity, the less insulin the body will need. If insulin sensitivity has increased, this will often be due to the combination of exercise and diabetes.
Fasting. Aside from not taking in any carbs for the insulin to displace, fasting can also lead to not having enough nutrients, which can hinder the body’s digestive abilities.
Similarly, illness can impact the body’s response to glucose. Illness will usually increase blood sugar but it depends on what kind of illness and how your body responds to it – which can give low blood sugar. Read more on this topic with Diabetes and the Flu.
Meanwhile, sleep itself may not lower blood sugar, but you can still get low blood sugar in the night – for the same reasons you would in in the day.
The only difference is that you can’t treat it as effectively because you’re… well… asleep. So, do have carbs ready by your bed, just in case. Read more on Diabetes and Sleep.
Finally, diabetes and alcohol is an important consideration, since alcohol affects the liver.
When blood sugar levels drop, there is an automatic response from the liver to release its store of glucose to bring glucose levels back to normal. Even though insulin will continue to lower blood glucose regardless, the liver’s response can help somewhat.
But when the liver needs to digest alcohol at the same time, it gets distracted and won’t release that extra store of glucose. This can result in blood sugar levels that are even lower than what you’re used to.
Avoid Blood Sugar Dropping Rapidly
Keep testing, testing, testing (or checking, checking, checking, if you prefer to use that word). To be aware of the state of your blood sugar levels, it’s necessary to check what your blood sugar levels are. Only then can you take steps to stop low blood sugar.
And those variable factors that play a role in hypoglycemia can be tracked with the assistance of Hedia – tell Hedia about your exercise or carbs.
Perhaps most importantly in this case, Hedia has an idea of the active insulin in your body. This makes all subsequent calculations to avoid hypoglycemia more accurate.