Can You Have Low Blood Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes?
When people think of type 2 diabetes, they think of abnormally high blood sugar levels. This is only natural, as is the belief that type 1 diabetes puts you at risk for dangerously low glucose levels. Most people with type 2 diabetes tend to have problems with high blood sugar levels, so it is understandable to equate hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) with type 2 diabetes, and discount hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels) as a possible symptom.
However, hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar, can occur in patients with type 2 diabetes. So, the answer is yes, there are certain instances where low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) can occur in a type 2 diabetic patient, and these occurrences have to do with medication and lifestyle actions.
Before we look at exactly how low blood sugar is possible with type 2 diabetes, let’s see if we can get a clear definition of this disease.
Defining Type 2 Diabetes
“Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body’s important source of fuel.”
That is the definition that comes to us from the Mayo Clinic. As you can see, this globally respected health authority makes no mention of high or low glucose levels. They simply note that there is a problem with the way your body processes, uses and stores glucose.
However, here’s the definition from the American Diabetes Association.
“Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of
Here you see the noted diabetes organization referring directly to abnormally elevated levels of blood glucose. And truth be told, that is the way that insulin resistance, which happens with type 2 diabetes, is most commonly diagnosed and perceived.
You may make plenty of insulin, but your body does not respond to it correctly. This leads to insulin resistance, sugar gets trapped in your bloodstream rather than absorbed into your cells for use as fuel, and you receive a type 2 diabetes diagnoses.
The Hypoglycemic Type 2 Diabetes Exceptions
Hypo means low, and hyper means high, at least in medical terms. If you have been diagnosed with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, it is still possible to have low blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. This happens for one of a couple of reasons.
1 – Medication Side-Effect
2 – Consistent Physical Exertion Without Nutrition
Glucose is the fuel your body uses to supply its energy needs. That energy is used by your body to do things. Even if you sit perfectly still and engage in zero physical activity, glucose fuels your brainpower and internal functions such as digestion. So glucose, or blood sugar, should not be looked at simplistically as being an evil thing.
When a type 2 diabetes patient has low blood sugar levels, this is sometimes a reaction to medication. If you are prescribed sulfonylurea drugs like Glipizide or Glyburide, your doctor is using those drugs to stimulate the production of insulin.
However, maintaining an ideal blood sugar ratio when insulin-resistant can be a balancing act. These insulinotropic agents can sometimes cause a severe drop in your blood glucose level. Not all diabetes medication causes this problem.
Diabetes specialists will always recommend regular exercise accompanied with smart nutrition to treat diabetes, and in some cases, the exercise/nutrition combo can even reverse a type 2 diabetes prognosis. However, if you perform strenuous physical activities for long periods of time and you don’t give your body enough healthy carbohydrates, your blood sugar level could also plummet.
These two scenarios can compound each other, also. For this reason, diabetics must be aware of their own body’s responses to both exercise and their medication, and ensure they diligently follow prescribed advice regarding timing of taking their medication.