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Diabetic hypoglycemia

Diabetic hypoglycemia

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For people with diabetes, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs when there’s too much insulin and not enough sugar (glucose) in the blood. Hypoglycemia is defined as blood sugar below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.9 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Several factors can cause hypoglycemia in people with diabetes, including taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications, skipping a meal, or exercising harder than usual.

Pay attention to early warning signs, so you can treat low blood sugar promptly. Treatment involves short-term solutions — such as taking glucose tablets or drinking fruit juice — to raise your blood sugar into a normal range.

Untreated, diabetic hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and loss of consciousness — a medical emergency. Rarely, it can be deadly. Tell family and friends what symptoms to look for and what to do in case you’re not able to treat the condition yourself.

Early signs and symptoms of diabetic hypoglycemia include:

Diabetic hypoglycemia can also occur while you sleep. Signs and symptoms, which can awaken you, include:

If diabetic hypoglycemia goes untreated, signs and symptoms of severe hypoglycemia can occur. These include:

Take your symptoms seriously. Diabetic hypoglycemia can increase the risk of serious — even deadly — accidents. Identifying and correcting the factors contributing to hypoglycemia, such as medications you take or irregular mealtimes, can prevent serious complications.

Informing people you trust, such as family, friends and co-workers, about hypoglycemia is important. Their knowing what symptoms to look for and what to do in case you’re not able to help yourself can make a potentially difficult situation easier to manage. It’s also important that they know how to give you a glucagon injection, in case it becomes necessary.

Symptoms can differ from person to person or from time to time, so it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and keep track of how you’re feeling when your blood sugar is low. Some people don’t have or don’t recognize early symptoms (hypoglycemia unawareness). If you have hypoglycemia unawareness, you may require a higher glucose goal range.

Hypoglycemia can leave you confused or even unconscious, which requires emergency care. Make sure your family, friends and co-workers know what to do.

If you lose consciousness or can’t swallow:

If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia several times a week, see your doctor. You may need to change your medication or your dosage or otherwise adjust your diabetes treatment program.

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:

The hormone insulin lowers glucose levels when glucose is elevated. If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and need insulin to control your blood sugar, taking more insulin than you need can cause your blood sugar level to drop too low and result in hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia also may result if, after taking your diabetes medication, you eat less than usual or exercise more than you normally do. Your doctor can work with you to prevent this imbalance by finding the dose that fits your regular eating and activity patterns.

If you ignore the symptoms of hypoglycemia too long, you may lose consciousness. That’s because your brain needs glucose to function. Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia early because if untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to:

On the other hand, be careful not to overtreat your low blood sugar. If you do, you may cause your blood sugar level to rise too high (hyperglycemia), which can become a problem with repeated episodes of hypoglycemia.

To help prevent diabetic hypoglycemia:

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Diabetic hypoglycemia

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