What happens when blood sugar is too low

Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, is when the level of sugar, glucose, in your blood drops too low. It mostly affects you if have diabetes, especially if you are taking insulin.
A low blood sugar level can become dangerous if not treated quickly, but you can treat it easily yourself.

Signs and Symptoms of a Low Blood Sugar Level

A low blood sugar level can have a variety of effects. You will learn how it makes you feel, although your symptoms might change with time. Early signs of a low blood sugar level include:

* Sweating, feeling tired or dizzy.
* Feeling hungry or having tingling lips.
* feeling shaky, trembling, or a fast or pounding heartrate.
* Becoming easily irritable, tearful, anxious, or moody.
* Turning pale.

If your low blood sugar level is not treated, you may notice additional symptoms, such as:

* Weakness, or blurred vision.
* Some confusion or difficulty concentrating.
* Unusual behavior, slurred speech, or clumsiness.
* Feeling sleepy, collapsing, or passing out.
* Seizures or fits.

A low blood sugar level can also happen while you are sleeping. This could wake you up during the night or cause headaches, tiredness, or your sheets are damp from sweating.

What Causes a Low Blood Sugar Level

If you have diabetes, the main causes of your low blood sugar level are:
* The effects of some medicine, especially taking too much insulin.
* Skipping a meal.
* Not eating enough carbohydrate foods in your last meal.
* Excessive exercise, especially if it is intense or unplanned.
* Drinking alcohol.

Sometimes there is no obvious reason for your low blood sugar level.

How to Treat a Low Blood Sugar Level Yourself

You can follow these steps:

* Have a sugary drink or snack – like a small glass of fizzy drink or fruit juice, 3 to 6 glucose tablets or 1 to 2 tubes of glucose gel.

* Evaluate your blood sugar after 10 minutes – if it is improved and you feel better, move to step 3. If there is little or no change, have another sugary drink or snack and take another reading after 10 minutes.

* You may need to eat- a main meal containing a carbohydrate if it is the right time. Or, have a snack that contains a carbohydrate, such as a slice of toast, a couple of biscuits, or a glass of milk.
You do not usually need to get medical help once you are feeling better. Tell your doctor if you stop having symptoms when your blood sugar level is low.

Preventing a Low Blood Sugar Level

If you have diabetes, you can avoid getting a low blood sugar level if you:

* Check your blood sugar level regularly and be aware of the symptoms so you can treat it quickly.
* Use a continuous glucose monitor or flash monitor to track your blood sugar levels. Ask your doctor about getting a monitor if you do not have one.
* Always carry a sugary snack or drink with you, a carton of fruit juice or some sweets, or glucose tablets.

Keep your glucagon injection kit with you.

* Do not skip meals.
* Be careful drinking alcohol. Do not drink large amounts, check your level regularly, and eat a carbohydrate snack afterwards.
* Be careful when exercising. Eat a carbohydrate snack before exercise. If you take diabetes medicine, your doctor may recommend you take a lower dose before or after doing intense exercise.
* Have a carbohydrate snack if your blood sugar level drops too low while you are asleep.

If you keep getting a low blood sugar level, talk with your doctor about what you can do to help prevent it.

Undiagnosed Diabetes