Hypoglycemia: Low Blood Sugar
What is Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar (low blood glucose).
A person with T1D with a blood sugar of 70 mg/dL or lower is usually considered hypoglycemic.
Hypoglycemia is common in people with T1D. In fact, most people with T1D have several episodes of mild-to-moderate hypoglycemia (blood sugar between 55mg/dL and 70 mg/dL) a week.
What Causes Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia occurs for several reasons, some of which you can control and some you cannot.
Causes of hypoglycemia you can control:
- Taking too much insulin
- Eating too few carbs for the amount of insulin you take
- Not timing your insulin dose correctly
- Not carefully monitoring blood sugar when engaging in exercise or drinking alcohol
Causes of hypoglycemia you cannot control:
- Hot and humid weather
- Interruptions in usual schedules due to travel
- Spending time at high altitude
- Going through puberty
- Having your menstrual period
- Timing of hypoglycemia during and following exercise
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
Symptoms of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, include feeling:
- Shaky or weak
- Irritability or confusion
- And others
Severe hypoglycemia (blood sugar below 54 mg/dL) can cause additional symptoms, including difficulty walking or seeing clearly, feeling disoriented, inability to swallow, loss of consciousness, and seizures. If you are unable to swallow, lose consciousness, or have a seizure, someone must administer glucagon via syringe, nasal spray, or auto-injector pen. The person with you should then call 911.
How to Treat Hypoglycemia
Treating hypoglycemia is based on the care plan provided by your doctor. This often includes the use of fast-acting carbohydrates (juice, fruit snacks, glucose tablets, etc.) and closely monitoring your blood sugar.