Hypoglycemia - self-care
Low blood sugar is called hypoglycemia. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dl is considered low, and blood sugars at this level can harm you. If you have diabetes and are taking any of the following diabetes medications, you have a risk for low blood sugar for hypoglycemia:
See also: Managing your blood sugar
Know how to recognize when your blood sugar is getting low. Symptoms are:
Sometimes your blood sugar may be too low even if you do not have symptoms. If your blood sugar gets too low, you may:
If you take insulin, talk with your doctor or nurse about when you should check your blood sugar every day. Usually, people who have low blood sugar often check in the morning, before and after meals, at bedtime, and if they wake up during the night.
The most common causes of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia are:
Preventing low blood sugar is better than having to treat it. When you exercise, check your blood sugar levels. Make sure you have snacks with you if you take insulin or other medicines that lower your blood sugar. See also: Diabetes and exercise
Ask your doctor or nurse if you need a bedtime snack to prevent low blood sugar overnight. Protein snacks may be best. Do not drink alcohol without eating food. If you do drink, have only one 1 or 2 drinks at the most.
Family and friends should know how to help. Important things they should understand are:
People with diabetes should always wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that emergency medical workers will be able to find.
Check your blood sugar whenever you have symptoms of low blood sugar. If your blood sugar is low (70 mg/dl), you need to treat yourself right away. Eat something that has about 15 grams of carbohydrates. Examples are:
Wait about 15 minutes before eating any more. Be careful not to over-treat by eating too much. This can cause high blood sugar and weight gain.
If you don't feel better in 15 minutes:
If these steps for raising your blood sugar do not work, call your doctor right away.
If you use insulin and you are having a lot of low blood sugars, ask your doctor or nurse if:
Do not make any changes without talking to your doctor or nurse first.
GET A RIDE to the emergency room right away or call a local emergency number (such as 911) if early signs of low blood sugar do not improve after you have eaten a snack that contains sugar. Do NOT drive when your blood sugar is low.
Get medical help right away for a person with diabetes or hypoglycemia who loses alertness, or if you can't wake them up.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885