How To Prevent And Manage Low Blood Sugar When You Have PCOS

PCOS and low blood sugar
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If you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), chances are you have experienced the unpleasant consequences of hypoglycemia at one point or another or even on a daily basis. Here’s how to treat it and prevent it from happening in the first place.

Signs And Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar

While a glucose meter can tell you exactly how low your blood sugar is (under 70 mg/dl meets the criteria), most people can recognize physical signs and symptoms that indicate their blood sugar is low.

It is important to note that not everyone experiences the same signs and symptoms of low blood sugar; these are the most common ones:

  • Headaches
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sweating, chills and clamminess
  • Irritability or impatience
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger

What Causes Low Blood Sugar?

Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar occurs when blood sugar dips too low. For the most part, the body does a good job maintaining balance in blood sugar levels. Normally, blood sugar rises in response to food or stress. Insulin works to lower blood sugar by transferring the glucose from the blood into the cells where glucose is then digested and used for energy.

Sometimes glucose levels can fall too low in the blood. Physical activity, waiting too long to eat or skipping meals, not eating enough food or carbohydrates at a meal or snack, drinking alcohol, taking insulin-lowering medications or supplements, can all contribute to low blood sugar.

It is not unusual for women with PCOS to report signs and symptoms of low blood sugar even though they do not have diabetes. In addition to the causes discussed, low blood sugar can also result from too much insulin being secreted at once. Eating a high carbohydrate meal can cause a big increase in blood sugar requiring more insulin needing to be secreted.

High levels of insulin then push glucose quickly into cells resulting in glucose blood levels to plummet. Most women already produce high levels of insulin to begin with.

How To Treat Low Blood Sugar

To treat low blood sugar, you have to increase blood sugar quickly. This can be achieved by eating 15 to 20 grams of simple carbohydrates, which are low in fiber and enter the blood stream right away. Examples include:

  • 2 tablespoons of raisins
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of juice or regular soda
  • 8 ounces of nonfat or 1% milk
  • 1 ounce of pretzels
  • 6 large jelly beans
  • Small granola bar
  • 15 grapes
  • ½ of banana

If you tend to experience low blood sugar, it is recommended that you carry some of these snacks with you so they are readily accessible if needed.

How To Prevent Low Blood Sugar

The best way to prevent blood sugar from getting too low is to properly manage your blood sugar in the first place. Here are some tips to manage your blood sugar:

  • Eat every 3 to 5 hours.
  • Include protein, fat, and a sensible portion of low glycemic index carbohydrates at meals and snacks.
  • Start the day with a balanced breakfast soon after waking such as eggs and fruit.
  • Avoid skipping meals and snacks.
  • Limit sources of refined carbohydrates such as sugary cereals, drinks, and sweets.
  • Exercise shortly after eating a meal or snack.  
  • Only use insulin-lowering medications and supplements under the care of a health care professional. Sometimes taking too many supplements or medications can contribute to low blood sugar. 

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