Hypoglycemia is another way of saying that the blood sugar is too low. It occurs quickly, usually within a few minutes. Too much insulin, too much exercise, too little food or some diabetes pills can cause low blood sugar. People with type 2 diabetes treated with diet and exercise should not experience low blood sugar.
How do you know if your blood sugar is too low? There are two ways to know if your blood sugar is too low: 1. Anytime your blood sugar reading on your monitor is below 70 mg/dL. 2. You feel different, such as:
- Shaky or trembling
- Blurred vision
- Rapid, pounding heartbeat
- Tired or drowsy
- Pale, cool or clammy skin
- Crabby or irritable
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
- Numbing or tingling around the mouth
- Nightmares during sleep
What should you do when your blood sugar is low? 1. Be sure to check if you are unsure of your blood sugar level. Treat low blood sugar if you are sure it is low. 2. Eat or drink something that contains 15-20 grams of carbohydrates. For example, take one of the following sources as your first action:
- 1 cup of skim or 1% milk
- ½ cup of fruit juice
- ½ cup of regular soda
- 6 Lifesavers®
- 3-4 glucose tablets
- 2 tablespoon raisins
- Eat 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
3. Wait 15 minutes and check your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is less than 70 mg/dL, take another 15 grams of carbs. Wait another 15 minutes and check your blood sugar again. Your blood sugar will most likely be above 70 mg/dL. 4. If your next meal or snack is more than an hour away, eat a protein and starch so your blood sugar will not go low again. (ex: peanut butter & crackers). 5. If blood sugar is still not above 70 mg/dL after 2 treatments with carbs, call your doctor or 911.
Important things to remember:
- Recognize signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. Most people feel funny when their blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dL. Some people feel symptoms at higher blood glucose levels. Some people can't feel early symptoms at all. If you do not get symptoms, then check your blood sugar more often.
- Eat the right amounts of food at the right times.
- Take the right amount of medicine at the right time.
- Plan ahead if you exercise.
- Carry something with you at all times to treat low blood sugar. Be sure to keep something in the car.Driving with low blood sugar is very dangerous.
- Wear a medical alert ID that shows you have diabetes.
- Determine why you have had a low blood sugar.
- If you have more than one unexplained low blood sugar in a week, contact your doctor.
- If you take insulin, you should have glucagon on hand to treat severe low blood sugar. A responsible family member or friend needs to know how and when to use glucagon.
How can your doctor help you?
- Discuss your blood sugar readings with your doctor. Use your log to talk with your doctor about the cause of low blood sugar.
- Discuss changes you need make to avoid low blood sugar.