There are a variety of factors which can cause a sudden blood sugar drop to occur, including eating the wrong combination of foods, exercising too strenuously without eating enough, taking certain herbal supplements or medications, and dining on the wrong kind of sugars and carbohydrates. Those with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to experience sudden blood sugar changes, but anyone can suffer from an occasional episode unless steps are taken to prevent it. Most sudden drops in blood glucose levels in non-diabetics stem from improper diet and too much physical activity.
Those with Type 1 diabetes or hypoglycemia are the most at risk for a sudden blood sugar drop. This can be caused by not properly monitoring food intake and combining the wrong foods for proper blood glucose control. For instance, eating refined carbohydrates leads to a rapid increase in blood sugar. This spike is generally followed by a dramatic drop in glucose levels shortly after. Some studies have shown that combining refined carbohydrates or sweets with protein may also exacerbate low blood sugar because the added protein affects the way the body absorbs and processes glucose.
Exercising may also cause a sudden blood sugar drop, primarily if being done on an empty stomach. When the body is engaging in strenuous activity, the heart pumps faster and moves more blood through the body in less time. This increased blood flow can dilute insulin levels and impact how well the body breaks down glucose in foods. If nothing was eaten prior to a workout, glucose levels can drop even further because there is no sugar for the body to break down at all.
Some studies have also shown that certain dietary supplements or foods can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar in some individuals. Green tea, for instance, has lowered blood sugar in several animal studies. It is thought this happens because the polyphenols found in the tea impact the efficiency of insulin. It requires several servings per day to cause a problem with most individuals, and green tea should not necessarily be avoided since it offers many health benefits. Those with Type 1 diabetes should consult a health care professional before drinking green tea, however, and it should not be consumed on an empty stomach.
In some cases, a sudden blood sugar drop may occur in those with type-2 diabetes who are taking insulin or another blood glucose lowering medication. This generally happens when the medications are taken in higher dosages than recommended, or when the drugs are taken without proper food intake. It is very important for all diabetics to carefully monitor blood sugar levels to ensure that they are normal both before and after meals.