Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a condition where a person’s blood glucose (blood sugar) falls below 70mg/dl. Here are four steps to help manage low blood sugar, but remember that it is important to discuss your individual blood sugar goals with your diabetes care team.

  1. Know the signs and symptoms. While there are some typical signs and symptoms of low blood sugar, each person may experience it differently. It is vital to check blood sugars with a glucometer, a device that measures blood sugar levels. Some typical signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include:
  • Shakiness
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sweating, chills and clamminess
  • Irritability or impatience
  • Confusion, including delirium
  • Rapid/fast heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Hunger and nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurred/impaired vision
  • Headaches
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Lack of coordination
  • Unconsciousness
  1. Treat it with the 15-15 rule. If you do end up with low blood sugar, you’ll want to follow these steps to bring blood sugars up into an ideal range.
  • Consume 15 grams of easily-digestible carbohydrate. Examples include ½ cup (4 ounces) of juice or regular soda, 3 glucose tablets, 15 jelly beans, and 1 tablespoon sugar or honey.
  • Wait 15 minutes to recheck blood sugars. If blood sugars are still low, repeat the 15-15 rule.
  • If your next meal is more than an hour away, consume a small snack.
  1. Prevent. The best plan is always to prevent low blood sugars.
  • Eat regularly, roughly around every 4-5 hours. Meals should be balanced with carbohydrates, protein and a little fat.  Check out our dinner menus to get ideas for a balanced meal.
  • Check blood sugars regularly. Discuss your blood sugar monitoring plan with your physician.
  • Exercise can induce hypoglycemia. If you experience hypoglycemia often, you may need to check blood sugars before exercise or extended activity.
  1. Prepare. Despite your best laid plans to prevent low blood sugars, they can still happen. You’ll want to be prepared to treat if it happens to you.
    • Keep glucose tablets (found in the pharmacy) or snack bags of 15 jelly beans in your car, purse, or bag.
    • Carry your blood glucose meter with you, especially if you have been experiencing low blood sugars or need to check blood sugars more frequently.
    • For individuals on insulin, a glucagon kit may be beneficial. You can talk to your physician to find out if this is something appropriate for you.  Glucagon is a hormone that increases blood sugar.
    • Wear a medical ID bracelet. Some contain all of your medical information in case of emergencies.

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