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Definition

What is diabetic hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia occurs when blood glucose levels fall below 4 mmol/L (72mg/dL).

Whilst many of us think of diabetes as being a problem of high blood sugar levels, the medication some people with diabetes take medication that can also cause their sugar levels to go too low and this can become dangerous.

How common is diabetic hypoglycemia?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of diabetic hypoglycemia?

The common symptoms of diabetic hypoglycemia are:

  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Being pale
  • Feeling weak
  • Feeling hungry
  • A higher heart rate than usual
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness
  • And in extreme cases, coma

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes diabetic hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia is most common among people who take insulin, but it can also occur if you’re taking certain oral diabetes medications.

Common causes of diabetic hypoglycemia include:

  • Taking too much insulin or diabetes medication
  • Not eating enough
  • Postponing or skipping a meal or snack
  • Increasing exercise or physical activity without eating more or adjusting your medications
  • Drinking alcohol

Risk factors

What increases my risk for diabetic hypoglycemia?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is diabetic hypoglycemia diagnosed?

You can determine if you have low blood sugar by using a blood glucose meter — a small computerized device that measures and displays your blood sugar level. You have hypoglycemia when your blood sugar level drops below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L).

It’s important to record the date, time, test results, medication and dosage, and diet and exercise information each time you test your blood. Also, note any low blood sugar reactions. Your doctor diagnoses hypoglycemia using your records and looks for patterns to see how your medications and lifestyle affect your blood sugar.

How is diabetic hypoglycemia treated?

A mild case of hypoglycemia can be treated through eating or drinking 15-20g of fast acting carbohydrate such as glucose tablets, sweets, sugary fizzy drinks or fruit juice.

Some people with diabetes may also need to take 15-20g of slower acting carbohydrate if the next meal is not due.

A blood test should be taken after 15-20 minutes to check whether blood glucose levels have recovered. Severe hypoglycemia may require an ambulance, for example if loss of consciousness occurs or a seizure persists for more than 5 minutes.

Severe hypos can be treated with glucagon if a glucagon injection kit is available and in date.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage diabetic hypoglycemia?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with 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 and 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 take it on time. Take your medication as recommended by your doctor.
  • 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 and your health care team see 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 wallet card.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: October 10, 2017 | Last Modified: October 10, 2017

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