hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) & Diabetes

Blood Glucose (BG) levels often change throughout the day. A way to identify if someone is experiencing a low BG event, you can use a BG monitor to check if the results are below 3.9mmol/L (70mg/dL). This means they are having a low BG event. When they are at that level said person needs to treat it to bring it back up. Low blood glucose events are a more common occurrence in people with type 1 diabetes. 

Having the knowledge on how to identify low blood sugar is crucial as it can be life-threatening if left untreated. In this post, you will find out more about what are the common causes of low blood sugar and common symptoms.

Common Causes of hypoglycemia

There could be many reasons a diabetic may experience a low blood sugar event, some of which include: 

  • Dosing too much insulin.
  • Drinking alcohol
  • The total amount of physical activity and intensity.
  • Not consuming enough carbs or skipping meals.
  • Hot environments.
  • How many proteins, fats and fibre are in your diet.
  • Going through puberty.
  • Menstruation.

symptoms of hypoglycemia

The way you experience a low blood glucose event might not always be the same as someone else experiencing the same thing. It is very important to know your symptoms. The most common symptoms are:

  • Shaking/trembling (First noticeable in the hands)
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Sweating or Clammy hands
  • Hunger
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability or confusion 
  • Feeling very anxious 

In some cases people may not get any symptoms of hypoglycemia (hypo), this is called ‘hypoglycemia unawareness’. If you do not get any symptoms when your BG levels are low, it will be noticeably harder to notice and treat a low glucose event and possibly cause you to have a ‘severe hypo’ (VERY low BG below 3mmol/L). Hypoglycaemia unawareness can happen over time and is more likely to develop if you:

  • Often have low glucose events.
  • Are taking medications, such as beta blockers used to treat high blood pressure.
  • Have been a diabetic for longer than 5 years.

If you tick off one or more of the above and have hypoglycemia unawareness, you might have to check your BG levels a lot more often to see if it is low. It is vital to check BG levels before driving or any physical activity in order to avoid severe hypo events.

Severe hypoglycemia

As a person’s BG gets lower and lower, they may experience some of the following more serious symptoms:

  • Having trouble walking or seeing clearly (Tunnel vision or blurred).
  • Feeling extremely weak.
  • Acting out of character or feeling/being very confused.
  • Having seizures.

Severe hypoglycemia (severe hypo) is when your BG drops below 3.0mmol/L (54mg/dL). Having a severe hypo can make you lose consciousness, in most cases when experiencing a severe hypo you may need help from someone with you. They can do this by either using a Glucagon Kit (a lot of people don’t have this) or calling for Emergency services if you have lost consciousness, if not, however, they can attempt to feed glucose gel to you or assist you in drinking a sugary drink.

Nighttime hypoglycemia

Having a hypo can happen at any time throughout the day, however, some may experience hypos while they are asleep. This could happen due to one or more of the following: 

  • Drinking alcohol at night
  • Taking too much insulin after your evening meal or before bed.
  • Performing physical activity before or close to your regular bedtime.
  • Generally having an active day.

Making sure you eat regularly and avoiding skipping meals can help you prevent nighttime hypos. Also eating while drinking alcohol can help you avoid the BG drop when recovering. If you’re feeling like you may be at risk of having a nighttime hypo, having a snack low in carbs such as an apple before bed can help. The sugar from the apple can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable as you sleep, preventing a nighttime hypo.

Some people may be woken up when having a nighttime hypo, but this is not reliable. The use of a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) can assist greatly with identifying nighttime hypos, this is because they can alert you with an alarm while you sleep.



I am very new to blog writing and would appreciate any feedback, please leave any comments, ideas or inquiries for more information below and I will do my best to update the blog or just respond to comments.

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By Lee M

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