As your treatment plan becomes more effective in bringing your blood sugar within its target ranges, you may occasionally experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar reactions). These reactions occur because there is too much insulin in your blood stream and not enough sugar going to your brain and muscles to help them function.
It is important to recognize and treat low blood sugar immediately because it can come on very quickly. It may be dangerous when your blood sugar is very low because you could pass out or have convulsions if your brain is not receiving enough sugar to work properly.
A low blood sugar reaction can happen when:
Hypoglycemia reactions are thought of as "mild," "moderate," or "severe." If untreated, the early, mild symptoms of hypoglycemia can become moderate or severe.
|Mild Hypoglycemia||Moderate Hypoglycemia||Severe Hypoglycemia|
|Sudden hunger||Personality change||Passing out|
|Pounding heartbeat||Confusion or difficulty concentrating|
|Drowsiness, tiredness||Poor coordination|
|Sweating||Slurred or slow speech|
|Numbness or tingling
of mouth or lips
Before you treat for hypoglycemia, and if you are able, you should check your blood sugar level to make sure that you are indeed experiencing the signs of low blood sugar. Testing your blood sugar will indicate if what you are feeling is really a low blood sugar reaction.
The problem with hypoglycemia is that your insulin level is too high and your blood sugar is too low. The treatment for a low blood sugar is food containing sugar. Hypoglycemia is a very uncomfortable feeling. It takes about 15 minutes for sugar from the food to be absorbed before you feel the effect. That's why it's important not to "over-treat" hypoglycemia by eating or drinking too much food containing sugar, which will turn a very low blood sugar situation into a very high blood sugar situation.
It is important to treat hypoglycemia immediately. Confirm that your blood sugar is low with a blood glucose monitor if you can do it quickly. Then treat the condition.
If your blood sugar is less than 60 mg/dL or if you cannot check but feel that your blood sugar is low:
If your blood sugar drops low enough, it's possible that you could pass out. Food and liquids cannot be given to a person who is unconscious. You should ask your doctor or nurse educator to teach a member of your family or a friend to give you a glucagon injection, in the event that you should need it. If your hypoglycemia is so severe that you need an injection of glucagon, your doctor or the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) should be called to monitor your condition.
To prevent hypoglycemia:
Nighttime low blood sugar can also be prevented: