If you have diabetes, you may experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) from time to time. Some people with diabetes may experience low blood sugar without realizing they are experiencing it. Even more importantly, many people don’t know that it may be avoided. Click here to test your knowledge about blood sugar.
There are two ways low blood sugar can be monitored:
- Self-tests using a glucose meter that measures your blood sugar at a specific moment
- The A1C test performed by your doctor, which shows your average blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months
By learning more about the causes and symptoms of low blood sugar, you can take steps to help reduce the risk of future episodes from occurring. Get started now!
What happens when you have low blood sugar?
- Low blood sugar can be caused by eating less or later than usual, changes in physical activity, or certain diabetes medications
- Symptoms that may be caused by low blood sugar include:
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Fast heartbeat
- Learning to recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar and quickly checking your blood sugar level using a glucose meter is important вЂ“ symptoms from low blood sugar may be mild at first but may worsen quickly if not treated
What should I do if I have symptoms?
- If you think you have any symptoms of low blood sugar, check your blood sugar right away
- If your blood sugar is 70 mg/dL or below, eat or drink something that will raise it quickly. Fifteen grams of a carbohydrate that contains sugar works best, such as:
- Five to six pieces of hard candy, such as five Life SaversВ® candies
- One half-cup fruit juice or regular — not diet — soda/carbonated soft drink
- One tablespoon sugar, jam or honey
- Three glucose tablets (available without a prescription at most pharmacies)
- Low blood sugar can happen when you are taking certain diabetes medications, which is another reason itвЂ™s important to closely monitor your blood sugar levels as frequently as your healthcare provider recommends
- Talk to your diabetes healthcare team (primary care provider, endocrinologist and diabetes educator) if you often experience low blood sugar levels. You may need to discuss changes to your meal plan, physical activity or diabetes medication. Your diabetes healthcare team can determine whether a change in your treatment plan is needed
- Click here for more information on what to do if you are having low blood sugar
What causes low blood sugar?
- Low blood sugar can be caused by the following:
- Skipping meals or irregular mealtimes
- Sudden increase in or excessive exercise
- Certain diabetes medications
Consequences of low blood sugar
- Symptoms of low blood sugar can get worse if not treated quickly. Failure to treat symptoms can cause you to lose consciousness, which requires emergency treatment
How can I help reduce the risk of low blood sugar episodes?
- To help control low blood sugar, work with your diabetes healthcare team to develop a personal eating, activity and medication schedule, if needed, that you can stick to. DonвЂ™t skip meals and carry snacks with you to help keep your blood sugar in control, including:
- Mixed dried fruit and nuts
- Piece of fruit and a small wedge of cheese
- Whole grain crackers with peanut butter
- Always carry carbohydrates that contain sugar (such as hard candy or glucose tablets) so you can treat low blood sugar levels at any time
- Talk with your diabetes healthcare team before starting or making any changes to your exercise program
- If you are experiencing episodes of low blood sugar, talk with your diabetes healthcare team about ways to help reduce the risk of future episodes, including potential adjustments to your medication