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Causes, Symptoms & Treatments of Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

Hypoglycemia: What You Should Know

Keeping your blood glucose (sugar) balanced is an important part of managing your diabetes. You may have times when your blood sugar drops below what your body needs. This is called hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Common reasons for low blood sugar are due to changes in diet and / or activity, alcohol use, illness or medications.

You can get low blood sugar if you take too much medicine for the amount of food you eat or drink. Low blood sugar may happen –

  • After you eat a meal that has a lot of simple sugars
  • If you miss a snack or don’t eat a full meal
  • If you eat later than usual 
  • If you drink alcohol without eating any food
  • After exercise

More physical activity or changing the timing of exercise may also cause hypoglycemia. Remember to −

  • Balance meals and medication with the time you exercise
  • Monitor your blood sugar before and after exercise to learn how it affects your blood sugar 
  • Exercise one to two hours after eating
  • Not exercise on an empty stomach

Your medicines at times may lower blood sugars too much. If that happens, you may need to adjust your treatment plan. Remember to take your medicine as directed by your doctor or nurse and know what to do if you forget to take a dose. To be prepared, talk to your doctor or nurse about your plan. 

It’s important to know the symptoms of hypoglycemia so you can treat them quickly and avoid more serious problems.

Symptoms include −

  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Shakiness, dizziness or weakness
  • Sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Hunger
  • Fast heartbeat



  1. To avoid more serious problems, it’s best to check your blood sugar if you have any symptoms of low blood sugar. If your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or lower, eat or drink something that will raise it quickly. 15 grams of a carbohydrate that contains sugar works best. 
    Examples include −
    • Five to six pieces of a hard candy
    • A half-cup of fruit juice or regular soda
    • One tablespoon of sugar, jam or honey
    • Three glucose tablets
  2. Wait 15 minutes and check your blood sugar again. If your blood sugar is still lower than 70 mg/dL or if you do not feel better, repeat step one every 15 to 20 minutes until your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or above.
  3. If your next meal is an hour or more away, eat a snack once your blood sugar is 7-20 mg/dL or above. 
  4. If you still do not feel better or if your blood sugar stays below 70 mg/dL, call your doctor or nurse right away. 

You may also want to talk to friends, family members and coworkers about how they can help if your blood sugar drops too low. They need to understand the symptoms and how
to treat you quickly. They also need to understand the importance of calling 911 if you lose consciousness. 

Remember to wear an ID bracelet to alert others you have diabetes in case of an emergency. You should also avoid driving if you are experiencing low blood sugar symptoms. 

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