Low Blood Sugar
Too high? Too low?
Managing diabetes can be a balancing act. Your body does not always respond
in exactly the same way to the things that make your blood sugar levels rise and
fall. Even when you are very careful about control, your blood sugar may go too
high or too low. Having a blood sugar level that's too high (hyperglycemia) can
lead to feelings of fatigue or moodiness as well as long-term complications in
the future. But having blood sugar go too low (hypoglycemia) can be scary for
you and those near you. That's why it's important to educate yourself—and
those who care for you— about hypoglycemia and what to do if it happens.
The causes of low blood sugar
Any number of things, working in combination, can cause your blood sugar to
drop too low.
- The amount of medicine—pills and/or insulin you have taken
- Too little food
- A delayed meal
- Too much exercise
- Drinking alcohol
The warning signs and symptoms of low blood sugar
Different people feel different ways when they have low blood sugar. You need
to know what signals your body may give you when your blood sugar is too low.
Check your blood glucose levels if you suddenly experience any of the
- Dizziness, shakiness, or trembling
- Rapid heartbeat
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability, moodiness, or anger
- Sweating, chills, or clamminess
- Tingling in your face or lips
- Extreme hunger
Check also if you wake up in the middle of the night with a nightmare or
restlessness, or if your pajamas are damp with sweat when you wake up. These may
also be symptoms of low blood sugar. Remember, low blood sugar may occur without
symptoms so it is important to regularly check blood sugar throughout the day.
Treating low blood sugar
You can sometimes prevent low blood sugar by watching how and when you eat
and exercise. You will want to be able to recognize the symptoms of low blood
sugar and raise your levels at once. Ask your healthcare team exactly how you
can do that. Your goal is to raise your blood sugar back to a safe level—70 to
80 mg/dL. To know if you are within that range, you will need to check your
levels with your monitor. After you have had something to eat or drink, wait
about 15 minutes, and test again. If your level is still low, eat or drink more
What to do for low blood sugar
- Drink a half can of regular—not diet—soda
- Eat or drink high-sugar foods such as candy, milk, or fruit juice
- Eat glucose tablets or glucose gel (available at pharmacies)
- Make sure your loved ones know the signs of low blood sugar and to call
9-1-1 in an emergency
Safety Information for Insulin
Possible side effects may include blood sugar levels that are too low,
injection site reactions, and allergic reactions, including itching and rash.
Tell your doctor about all other medicines and supplements you are taking
because they could change the way insulin works. Glucose monitoring is
recommended for all patients with diabetes.
The health information contained herein is provided for general education
purposes only. Your healthcare professional is the single best source of
information regarding your health. Please consult your healthcare professional
if you have any questions about your health or treatment.