Hypoglycemia

Fear of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) can be a barrier to good blood glucose control. Hypoglycemia occurs when blood glucose drops below 70 mg/dl. If the blood glucose level is dropping rapidly, you may feel symptoms before it reaches 70 mg/dl. However, some feel no symptoms at all. 

Hypoglycemia is more likely to occur if taking any of these diabetes medications: 

  • Any type of insulin 
  • Glyburide  
  • Glipizide  
  • Glimepiride 
  • Chlorpropamide (Diabenese) 
  • Repaglinide(Prandin) 
  • Nateglinide(Starlix) 
  • Any combination of these medications 

Hypoglycemia can happen when there are factors causing your blood glucose to drop without any factors that increase blood glucose. 

Factors that decrease blood glucose: 

  • Insulin and the above-listed diabetes medications 

  • Physical activity 

  • Nausea and vomiting 

  • Alcohol 

Factors that can increase blood glucose: 

  • Simple carbohydrates (sugar) 

  • Complex carbohydrates (starch) 

  • Illness or infection 

  • Stress 

More frequent hypoglycemia is concerning and needs to be evaluated by your health care provider. If your blood glucose drops low enough it can cause loss of consciousness, accidents, or seizures. This is severe hypoglycemia and requires help from another person.   Severe hypoglycemia can be life-threatening. Emergency help should be called. A glucagon injection may be given. Glucagon is a hormone that will quickly raise blood glucose. 

Tips to prevent hypoglycemia: 

Unexpected Meal Delay 

Have a small carb-containing snack like fruit, yogurt, or crackers to keep blood glucose stable until able to eat a meal. 

Unable to Eat a Meal of Solid Food 

Drink a carb-containing beverage equal to your usual mealtime carb intakes such as juice, milk, or regular soda. 

Increased Physical Activity 

Plan activity after food intake and keep a carb-containing snack handy. 

Illness 

Contact your health care provider if vomiting and unable to eat. Sip on carb-containing beverages. 

Moderate Alcohol Intake 

Switch to seltzer water, non-alcohol beer, or diet soda. 

Guessing Your Carb Intake  

Learn how to read labels and count carbs, especially if matching carbs to insulin. 

Timing of Medication and Food Intake 

Meals eaten at regular times will help keep blood glucose more stable. 

Know Your Blood Glucose Level  

Use finger stick method to check glucose. Do not rely on how you feel. Monitor as appropriate for your treatment goals. 

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