Islets of Hope for persons with diabetes

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Article by Lahle Wolfe, Founder, Islets of Hope.  For article use and reprint permission please contact:

American Diabetes Association
Diabetes Health Net
EMedicine - Fred Smeeks, MD
EDoctor UK
Nat'l Diabete Info Clearinghouse
UVA Health

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Hypoglycemia and diabetes: doing your part

Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia can vary from person to person. Get to know your own signs and describe them to your friends and family so they will be able to help you. If your child has diabetes, tell school staff about hypoglycemia and how to treat it.

Always carry with you a copy of emergency medical instructions in case you ever become unconscious.

If you experience hypoglycemia several times a week, call your health care provider. You may need a change in your treatment plan: less medication or a different medication, a new schedule for your insulin shots or medication, a different meal plan, or a new exercise plan.

Did You Know?

... that exercise can cause hypoglycemia? Check your blood glucose before you exercise and afterwards.  If you are active for a long time, or, feel any of the symptoms of abnormal blood glucose levels (high or low) check during exercise as well.

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Important Medical Disclaimer

All material found on this site is intended to provide you with general information.  You should consult with your own physician before making any changes to your diabetes care plan.


islets of hope diabetes medical library            back to main "Glycemia Information"
Diabetes Information                                                                        
Printable Version of this Article

Symptoms of hypoglycemia
Causes, symptoms, treatment & prevention
(hypoglycemia is also called low blood glucose or low blood sugar)

Mini Site Index
Hypoglycemia:  An Immediate Danger
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia in Diabetes
More Information

Hypoglycemia:  An Immediate Danger

Low blood glucose levels present immediate danger -- they must be treated (but not over treated) to avoid insulin shock or death.  Frequent lows indicate brittle diabetes, that is, too much insulin is being administered or, that is being improperly timed, to handle snacks, meals and activity levels.  It is important that you report severe or frequent lows to your physician so that he/she can help you make any necessary adjustments in your care.


Symptoms of Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose)

It is important to remember that people can react differently to low blood glucose levels.  You may feel different symptoms from time to time, or none at all.  Children will often become belligerent and weepy when their blood glucose is low, but not all do.  (Elizabeth, my daughter, acts like she is drunk; wobbly and silly, laughing hysterically at everything and anything.)

IOH Health Tip:  Excessive amounts of caffeine can mimic the symptoms of feeling like you are low but does not actually cause hypoglycemia.  Whenever you feel low, immediately check your blood glucose.  If you cannot check your sugars and you feel low, assume you are low and take a fast-acting sugar and test your blood glucose as soon as possible.

Generally, symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

Mild Hypoglycemia

  • Increased or sudden hunger
  • Feeling shaky, dizzy or nervous
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Drowsiness, feeling tired
  • Sweating (cold and clammy)
  • Numbness or tingling around the mouth
  • Headache or stomach ache

Moderate Hypoglycemia

Any of the above mild symptoms, plus:

  • Personality change
  • Irritability
  • Confusion and/or difficulty concentrating
  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Poor coordination

Severe Hypoglycemia                    * * * Give glucagon & CALL 911 ASAP! * * *

Any of the above mild or moderate symptoms, plus:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures and/or convulsions
  • Death

Severe hypoglycemia requires injection of glucagon to save the person's life!

Hypoglycemia can also happen while you are sleeping. You might:

  • Cry out or have nightmares
  • Find that your pajamas or sheets are damp from perspiration
  • Feel tired, irritable, or confused when you wake up
  • Wake up with high blood glucose or a headache.  


More Information About Hypoglycemia

People with diabetes
Causes of Hypoglycemia in Diabetes
Treatment of Hypoglycemia in Diabetes
Prevention of Hypoglycemia in Diabetes
Printable Hypoglycemia Guides
Normal Blood Glucose Ranges
Normal and Target Blood Glucose Ranges in mg/dL for Diabetics

People that do not have diabetes
Hypoglycemia in People Who Do Not Have Diabetes
Symptoms of Non-Diabetes Related Hypoglycemia
Reactive Hypoglycemia
Fasting Hypoglycemia
Conditions Occurring in Childhood and Infancy

Related Information
Insulin Shock
Diabetic Seizures and Coma from Hypoglycemia 
Shot Therapy
Insulin Pump Therapy
Types of Insulin
Tips from Others Living With Diabetes
Lifestyle Changes
Diets for Diabetes and Hypoglycemia



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Page Updated 03/10/2006