Has this ever happened to you? You feel symptoms of a low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), you check, and it’s actually not low? This can happen if you are nervous/excited and are experiencing the affects of adrenaline, which can be the same as low symptoms. This can happen if your blood glucose is dropping quickly. Perhaps when you check it isn’t low yet, but will be shortly. It can also happen if your blood glucose has been running consistently high and now it is lower than it has been (even if it isn’t technically “low”).
I think of that last scenario as your body’s way of saying, “Hey, we were used to all that glucose and now there’s not as much – what’s going on??” And I talk to a lot of people who have experienced this.
Health care professionals usually define low blood glucose (BG) as any number below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L). That means we don’t usually worry about the dangers of low blood glucose until we reach 70 or below.
But if you feel low at a higher number, you’re not crazy. I read about a blogger who had this experience while in the endocrinologist’s office. This person felt low, checked their BG and found it was in the 170s. The endocrinologist proceeded to roll his/her eyes at the person who felt low but was not (according to the BG).
Dear health care professionals: if you didn’t learn this in school, please take note – NEVER roll your eyes at a patient!
Dear people with diabetes who feel low when the number says they aren’t: don’t worry about it. The way you feel is legit and it could be any number of things going on (see above).
I have found that I tend to feel low when my blood glucose is either rising or falling through the 180 mg/dL range. I honestly don’t know why that is, but my personal suspicion is that it has to do with the renal threshold. The renal threshold is when the blood glucose level surpasses 180 and the kidneys start spilling glucose into the urine. Maybe someone will study this one day (and maybe they already have) and I’ll get an answer, but in the meantime I try to check before treating when I feel low – just in case I’m in the 170s or 180s like the person I read about!
One other thing…if you are feeling symptoms of low blood glucose when your BG is not actually low, keep working on managing your diabetes and bringing your average down and eventually you will feel low when you are closer to or below 70.