Low blood sugar is when blood sugar levels fall below 50 mg/dL. Generally, it isn’t easy to access as most of the time, it exhibits anxiety, irritability, or hunger. However, with increased public awareness, people now realize the happening and seek medical attention. There are around 5 to 10% of low blood sugar patients worldwide. But the latest reports from WHO state a steep rise. The most concerning reports were the increasing number of pregnant women dealing with low blood sugar.
The low blood sugar level is also medically termed Hypoglycemia. It is a widespread issue during pregnancy. Many women face the same and are exceedingly worried about this problem. However, one has to understand the underlying causes of this disorder and become aware of it. The main reason for developing Hypoglycemia during pregnancy is the change in glucose metabolism. Gestational diabetes is also another related disorder observed during pregnancy. Let us have a detailed look into the causes, symptoms, and cure of Hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is the medical word used to describe low blood sugar levels in someone. Low blood sugar levels in pregnant women differ from those who aren’t carrying. According to predefined medical standards, it is determined by comparing the normal blood sugar level expected to prevail in other pregnant women. We have a very vague idea that Hypoglycemia is all about fainting. However, Hypoglycemia may not always end up making the person faint.
Pregnancy-related Hypoglycemia is a very common disorder and manifests through multiple symptoms like anxiety, blurred vision, or pale skin. Since many pregnant women normally face these issues during their gestational tenure, they overlook these symptoms. However, it is imperative to be vigilant about these symptoms and seek medical attention on time.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy are valid reasons for the development of Hypoglycemia. Another core reason could be that many women develop diabetes (either Type 1 – inability of the body to produce adequate insulin or Type 2 Cells become insulin resistant) during pregnancy and need to take medications for the same. Sometimes, these medications make the body hypoglycemic. It is not necessary that medications will always cause Hypoglycemia, but it is a common observation.
Some common causes of Hypoglycemia during pregnancy are-
We know pregnant women deal with discomfort. Out of all, morning sickness haunts them the most. Some endure the gut-wrenching feeling for their entire gestational period, while others may experience it for the first trimester. However, not many know that this natural phenomenon is a prime cause of low blood sugar levels. The frequent vomiting may bar you from consuming enough calories. If you lose weight and feel dizzy, it’s time to check for your blood sugar levels.
We have a misconception that carbs aren’t healthy. Though avoiding them may be all right during the regular frame of our lives, pregnancy is not the time to experiment with carbs. One must take ample nutrients, including carbs because the body continuously nurtures a little being. Also, vomiting shall cause fatigue. If you do not have ample carbs, it shall lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Gestational diabetes is a hormonal condition and is extremely common in pregnant women. However, the situation goes by itself after delivery. Though that’s a sign of relief, it may lead to low blood sugar levels. Hence, pregnant women must be vigilant about their medical condition and seek a diagnosis of slight dizziness, fatigue, etc.
If you are already a diabetes patient who takes insulin, there are higher chances of contracting Hypoglycemia. Insulin injections are used to lower blood sugar levels in the blood. However, your body functions peculiarly during pregnancy. Hence, insulin may reduce blood sugar levels drastically, leading to low Hypoglycemia. If you are a diabetes patient, ensure to have a well-balanced meal and have a keen look at your blood sugar levels.
Intake of medications for other disorders may also affect the blood sugar level of the would-be mom. For example, the intake of pentamidine, a drug to cure pneumonia, can bring about a significant drop in the blood glucose level. Also, quinine, the drug used to treat malaria can cause a drastic lowering of blood sugar levels. Pain relievers like aspirin also lead to Hypoglycemia, which is why doctors ask pregnant women to avoid this kind of drug. Other than these, sulfur is a normal component of various antibiotics that can lead to lower blood glucose levels.
The reason for developing Hypoglycemia during pregnancy is widespread. Ome can also develop Hypoglycemia during pregnancy if they have rare medical disorders like
- The hormonal imbalance between the levels of Glucagon and Cortisol
- Enzyme deficiency
- Pancreatic tumors
- Organ failure and so on
Other than physiological ailments, many lifestyle factors also contribute to the development of Hypoglycemia. These include:
- Not having adequate food to meet the calorie and nutritional requirements of own’s and the fetus’s body
- Inadequate urge to eat and development of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia
- Intake of nicotine or alcohol
Low blood glucose levels in the body manifest themselves through several symptoms such as :
- Extreme Weakness
- Shakiness experienced in different body parts
- Blurred visions
- A persistent feeling of tiredness and extreme exhaustion at times
- Anxiety and depression
- Frequent mood swings and flushes of anger
- Confusion while thinking
- Increased heartbeat rate and subsequent sweating or feeling of uneasiness
- Pale skin
- Frequent feeling of nausea and vomiting
In case of a drastic fall in blood sugar levels, many women also suffer from convulsions and seizures and become unconscious or faint.
Hypoglycemia developed during pregnancy is mainly of two types:
This type of Hypoglycemia is observed in women who have several other medical complications other than the disrupted insulin levels and is often an outcome of those. In this type of Hypoglycemia, the blood sugar levels critically fall below the normal levels between the two successive meals or the intermeal period. The fall is drastic, and the levels could drop to dangerous limits such that the person can become unconscious or faint.
This is another type of gestational Hypoglycemia most commonly observed during pregnancy. In this type of Hypoglycemia, the blood sugar levels fall below normal levels after a few hours of heavy meal consumption.
Blood sugar tests can be conducted on the patient’s blood samples to have a fair idea about the relative blood glucose levels of the patient. The test is easy. Blood samples are withdrawn from the patient’s blood vessels during fasting and postPrandial conditions, and these values are compared with the standard values. Low levels of blood sugar are indicative of Hypoglycemia. The patients are usually advised to take multiple recordings every day.
Getting a glucometer at home is better because visiting the clinic may be tedious, especially if it has to be done daily. With a daily check, one can stay updated about the fluctuations and also the effects of drugs if the doctor prescribes any. An important consideration for the hypoglycemia diagnosis is that being detected with Hypoglycemia once is not indicative that you have developed the disorder. A consistent low blood sugar reading for a couple of days will indicate that the pregnant woman has developed Hypoglycemia.
If you are detected with low blood sugar levels, your doctor will usually prescribe certain medications that will keep the blood sugar level steady. Also, if there is a glucagon imbalance in the body, the doctor will advise you to have synthetic glucagon. The synthetic glucagon hormone can be injected with a syringe. Glucagon leads to the release of glucose stores from the liver. This will enhance the falling sugar levels in your blood and is the best treatment for Hypoglycemia.
Doctors can easily treat Hypoglycemia with regular medications. A glucagon shot is best for treating emergency conditions of extremely low blood sugar levels, but it is not a long-lasting or permanent solution.
Here are a few quick steps to follow, if you are feeling the symptoms of Hypoglycemia:
- Do not keep standing for long durations during pregnancy. Instead, sit down or lie down. If you keep on standing, there is a possibility of falling and injuring yourself and the baby.
- To keep away from such emergency episodes of Hypoglycemia, keep eating carbohydrates throughout the day. You can eat some nuts, fruit juice, or fruit like banana whenever feeling low.
- Always stay connected with your physician so that you can get the best treatment at an emergency call. Keep the medicines handy and keep emergency medicines with yourself whenever traveling or being out of the house.
- These were the tips for emergency hypoglycemic attacks. However, there are certain precautions you can take to mitigate the risk of developing Hypoglycemia during your pregnancy period:
- Eat a balanced diet with all necessary nutrients, including ample carbohydrates and other macronutrients. Do not skip any meal unless advised by your physician. Avoid eating unhealthy food.
- Never stay hungry for a long period. During pregnancy, women crave food very often. Always keep some healthy snacks by your side. It could be nuts, jaggery bars, or any carbohydrate fruit and nut bar.
- Exercising during pregnancy is fine, but ver exercising can be harmful. Always follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to exercise during pregnancy.
Low blood sugar isn’t a condition to be afraid of. One can easily overcome casualties by staying observant of the symptoms. Always keep the number of your doctor in hand and call whenever you feel there is something to be worried of. Battle low blood sugar with awareness, and you shall surely enjoy a happy pregnancy.