Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) with diabetes
What to know about low (hypoglycemia) blood sugar when living with diabetes:
What is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)?
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar occurs whenever someone’s blood sugar approaches or is below 70 mg/dL.
- Your body needs sugar (or Carbohydrates) in order to run, so it’s very important to listen to the body’s cues for high or low blood sugar.
- This can feel very different for each individual. Below you will see a chart of recommended blood sugars ranges. If you check your blood sugars, these are the desired blood sugar ranges to aim for. Also included in this handout is a list of signs and symptoms for you and any close family or friends to watch for.
- American Diabetes Association Glucose Goals for people with Diabetes:
- Before meals or fasting: 70 to 130 mg/dL
- 1-2 hours after the start of a meal: less than 180mg/dL
Symptoms of low blood sugar:
- Pounding heart, Racing Heart
- Sudden change in mood or behaviors
- Weak, tired
- Nervous or Upset, Angry
Common causes of hypoglycemia
- Taking too much medication, or too many medications in general, depending on the type you take. Ask your care team if you are at risk for Hypoglycemia.
- Not eating enough, or going too long between meals
- Drinking Alcohol
- Eating or drinking later or earlier than your usual times
- Skipping meals
How do you treat hypoglycemia?
Important! Make sure anyone living with you knows how to treat low blood sugar. Sometimes people are not aware that they are acting differently or showing signs of low blood sugar. Wear a medical Alert Bracelet or necklace and make sure close friends and family know how to treat hypoglycemia.
When you have low blood sugar:
- Take 3-4 glucose tablets (available at the pharmacy)
- Have a tube of glucose gel or a small tube of cake frosting
- Chew and swallow 4-6 pieces of hard candy
- Have 4oz (1/2 cup) of fruit juice or regular soda (not sugar free)
- A tablespoon of Honey
- Recheck your blood sugars to see if you are still below 70 mg/dL. If so, eat another serving of the items listed above
- Repeat this step
As soon as you can, but definitely within an hour eat a substantial meal or snack that also contains protein and fat such as a sandwich, crackers and cheese, cottage cheese and fruit, etc.
When to call your doctor or seek emergency treatment
First of all, do not drive when you have low blood sugar!
Seek Medical attention if your blood sugar has not responded to the process listed above after 3 attempts.
If you pass out and have a glucagon injection available, your family should know how to give it to you. If you are not waking up, someone should call 911. Remember, never try to feed someone who is unconscious.