Know the Signs. Be Prepared.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, causes approximately 100,000 emergency room visits per year in the U.S.
Get the Lowdown
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, is a potentially dangerous condition that occurs when blood sugar levels fall low enough that a person needs to take action. Because of the risks, it is important that you, along with your family, friends and coworkers, know the signs of a low blood sugar episode and how to respond.
Share this infographic with those close to you—so everyone gets the lowdown before a low blood sugar emergency.View the Infographic
For people with diabetes, low blood sugar typically occurs when blood sugar levels fall below 70 mg/dl, though this may differ for everyone depending on treatment. Other common risk factors include:
- Taking certain diabetes medications. If you are taking diabetes medications, talk to your clinician to find out how this may affect you.
- Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol.
- Age. Speak with your clinician to find out how this may affect you.
- Having irregular eating habits, such as skipping a meal or eating less than usual (if using a sulfonylurea or insulin).
- Increasing your physical activity without enough nutrition.
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Part of being prepared for a low blood sugar episode is knowing the signs and symptoms so you can act fast. Typically, these symptoms can range from early and mild to more severe.
Early, milder symptoms can include:
- Nausea and dizziness
- Fast heartbeat
- Sweating and/or chills
- Unusual irritability or moodiness
Severe symptoms can include:
- Blurred or impaired vision
- Coordination problems or clumsiness
- Tingling or numbness in the lips, tongue, or cheeks
- Color draining from the skin
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You can never be too prepared. Talk to your diabetes care team about your blood glucose targets and what treatment options are right for you.
Also, remember to check your blood sugar levels regularly, especially:
- Before and after meals
- Before and after exercise (or during a long or intense session)
- Before bed
Other helpful tips include keeping a few pieces of hard candy or a sugary drink nearby, keeping your medical ID with you, and keeping an emergency hypoglycemia rescue kit on hand. This kit could contain any delivery method of glucagon (e.g. injected or via nasal spray) and is available only by prescription.
Also, share with your loved ones the necessary steps to take if you experience a low blood sugar emergency.
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What to Do During a Low Blood Sugar Emergency
Once you become aware that you are experiencing a low blood sugar emergency, it’s important to know what actions to take.
For Milder Emergencies
Follow the “Rule of 15” by eating 15 grams of carbohydrates or simple sugars, and then rechecking your blood sugar level after 15 minutes. If your blood sugar is still low, consume another 15 grams of carbohydrates and recheck again after 15 minutes. Continue to do this until your blood sugar is at your target level.
To avoid another low, eat a meal or snack when your blood sugar is back to normal.
For Severe Emergencies
Administer emergency hypoglycemia rescue therapy, which contains any delivery method of glucagon (e.g. injected or via nasal spray - available by prescription only). Do not inject insulin, which will lower a person's blood sugar more.
Family and Friends: What Can You Do?
Family and friends should also know the signs and the symptoms of a low blood sugar emergency as well as how to monitor a loved one’s blood sugar levels. It is also helpful for family and friends to have hard candies on hand.
In the event of a severe case of low blood sugar, they should also learn to administer emergency hypoglycemia rescue therapy. If needed, you should take a loved one to the hospital or call for medical assistance immediately.
The Terrible Lows
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Help others get the lowdown on low blood sugar by sharing these GIFs on your social media channels! All GIFs are available for download below.