Hypoglycemia is defined as blood sugar below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.9 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). For people with diabetes, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs when there’s too much insulin and not enough sugar (glucose) in the blood.
Several factors can cause hypoglycemia in people with diabetes, including taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications, skipping a meal, or exercising harder than usual.
Medical experts warn that paying close attention to early warning signs aids early treatment. Treatment involves short-term solutions; such as taking glucose tablets or drinking fruit juice to raise your blood sugar into a normal range.
Untreated, diabetic hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and loss of consciousness — a medical emergency. Rarely, it can be deadly.
Early signs and symptoms of diabetic hypoglycemia include; shakiness, dizziness, sweating, hunger, irritability or moodiness, anxiety or nervousness and headache.
Nighttime symptoms may include; damp sheets or bedclothes due to perspiration, nightmares, tiredness, irritability or confusion upon waking.
Severe symptoms of untreated diabetic hypoglycemia include; Clumsiness or jerky movements, muscle weakness, difficulty speaking; or slurred speech, blurry or double vision, drowsiness among others.
Although symptoms can differ from person to person or from time to time, so it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and keep track of how you’re feeling when your blood sugar is low. Some people don’t have or don’t recognize early symptoms (hypoglycemia unawareness). If you have hypoglycemia unawareness, you may require a higher glucose goal range.
To help prevent diabetic hypoglycemia:
Don’t skip or delay meals or snacks. If you take insulin or oral diabetes medication, be consistent about the amount you eat and the timing of your meals and snacks.
Monitor your blood sugar. Depending on your treatment plan; you may check as well as record your blood sugar level several times a week or several times a day. Careful monitoring is the only way to make sure that your blood sugar level remains within your target range.
Measure medication carefully, and also take it on time. Take your medication as recommended by your doctor.
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Adjust your medication or eat additional snacks if you increase your physical activity. The adjustment depends on the blood sugar test results and on the type and length of the activity.
Eat a meal or snack with alcohol, if you choose to drink. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can cause hypoglycemia.
Record your low glucose reactions. This can help you as well as your health care team identify patterns contributing to hypoglycemia and find ways to prevent them.
Carry some form of diabetes identification so that in an emergency; others will know that you have diabetes. Use a medical identification necklace or bracelet and also wallet card.