Hypoglycemia: Low Blood Sugar

Hypoglycemia: Low Blood Sugar

Hypoglycemia is a frequent byproduct of diabetes medications.

Hypoglycemia happens when the blood sugar drops too low for the body. It is also known as Insulin reaction. Hypoglycemia can occur very rapidly and progress if left untreated. The most common cause of hypoglycemia is too little food left in the body when compared to the amount of medication that has been taken. It occurs, for example, when a person with insulin-dependent diabetes takes insulin and then eats a meal later than usual, skips a meal or eats too little at meal time. Increased activity will also sometimes cause hypoglycemia because exercise burns some of the glucose in the blood.

Here, according to the University of California San Diego’s Book The UCSD Healthy Diet for Diabetics, are some of the symptoms, causes and treatments of hypoglycemia in diabetics.

Normal Glucose: 70 -130.

Low Blood sugar: 40-65.

Symptoms: shakiness and nervousness; rapid pulse; perspiration, cold and clammy skin; feeling of weakness or faintness; blurred or double vision; tingling of hands, lips, or tongue; headache; sudden hunger.

Causes: Too little food (late, insufficient, or missed meals); too much insulin or diabetes pills; too much exercise without food; alcohol (especially on an empty stomach).

Treatment: Simple sugars such as: orange or apple juice or regular soft drink (4 oz); 5-7 jelly beans, gum drops, sugar cubes; 2-3 glucose tablets. Repeat if needed. If more than 30 minutes until a meal, eat a snack, such as crackers and cheese, or half a sandwich.


Very low blood sugar: (under 40)

Symptoms: Confusion; personality changes; staggering; slurred speech; convulsions; loss of consciousness.

Causes: Ignored or inadequately treated mild hypoglycemia.

Treatment: If the person is awake, treat as you would a mild insulin reaction.


If the person is unconscious, call 911 or fire department paramedics; rub Monogel, Instaglucose or Cake Mate between cheek and gum OR inject glucagon.

Again, this emergency material is not intended to diagnose a condition, but is intended to assist you in an emergency situation. Consult a physician for further information.

Source: The UCSD Healthy Diet for Diabetes, by Susan Algert, M.S., R.D.; Barbara Grasse, R.D., C.D.E.; Annie Durning, M.S., R.D.