High blood sugar may be damaging, but low blood sugar is dangerous
Many diabetics know the feeling of getting weak and shaky, and that is time to break out the candy. They quickly identify the problem as low blood sugar hypoglycemia. But such a feeling may be unusual in folks who haven't been diagnosed with diabetes.
"Most people kind of know when they are feeling low, they start to feel a little shaky," said according to Dr. Kristin Broughton with Memorial Medical Group at Comanche County Memorial Hospital. "They start to feel heart palpitations, anxiety; sometimes they will get sweaty or feel hungry. Usually if that's the case, if they can get to some food, orange juice or something like that it goes away hard candies, something like that it usually helps."
Although hypoglycemia is rare in patients who are not diabetic, it does happen. Alcohol can induce some hypoglycemia. Some rare tumors can cause low blood sugar, as can deficiencies in some hormones like cortisol.
"Patients who are in the ICU, critically ill on the ventilator can experience it as well," Broughton said.
While candy can be an easy sugar solution for diabetics, they should instead reach for something a bit more complex, not a simple sugar like a piece of candy, Broughton recommends. Diabetics would do better by eating a peanut butter cracker or something that will stay with them a little longer.
"In general, hypoglycemia is actually pretty rare in the general population," Broughton said. "Obviously, if you're diabetic, your diabetes medication can cause it. ... Most of the time, when we measure people's glucose, if they are under 50-55 milligrams per deciliter, that's usually when they can tell they are low. We like to see them above 70 on a regular basis."