Hypoglycemia: signs, symptoms and complications.


If you have diabetes, you may be familiar with the types of symptoms caused by a blood glucose level of 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg / dL) or less. The most common symptoms of hypoglycemia include tremors, heart palpitations, anxiety, and hunger. If your blood sugar level drops dangerously, you can develop symptoms such as confusion, vision problems, behavior changes, seizures, or even loss of consciousness .

People without diabetes can also develop hypoglycemia. Fortunately, eating or drinking a few simple carbohydrates can usually help quickly, but for that you need to be able to identify the symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Get Medication Information / Laura Porter

Frequent symptoms

The symptoms of hypoglycemia tend to follow a pattern that you will probably learn very quickly to recognize if you have diabetes. Common symptoms include:

  • Instability
  • Hunger
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Perspiration
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Late students
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Soft spot
  • Loss of muscle control.

Severe symptoms

When blood sugar levels drop dangerously low – less than 54 mg / dL, as defined by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), which considers this parameter to be severe hypoglycemia or "level 2" – you may also have any of these symptoms:

Nocturnal symptoms

You may have hypoglycemic episodes at night and you may not be aware of them. This is especially true for type 1 diabetes and a little less often for type 2 diabetes. Your body produces two hormones, glucagon and adrenaline, which help maintain normal blood sugar levels. During sleep, glucagon production decreases. In addition to this, type 1 diabetes tends to interfere with glucagon production and glucagon also decreases with each episode.

Symptoms of nighttime symptoms include:

  • Night sweats
  • Nightmares
  • Talk or yell while you sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Don't feel rested when you wake up
  • Morning glucose is higher than normal

If you notice these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Untreated nocturnal hypoglycemia can become dangerous and lead to life-threatening hypoglycemia, which can lead to the serious symptoms listed above.

To prevent episodes of nocturnal hypoglycemia, try a bedtime snack high in complex carbohydrates such as muesli, oatmeal, or nuts. Do not change your diet plan, exercise regimen, or medication during the day and night. Also, be careful not to overdose on insulin at night, as this can lead to hypoglycemia.

Ignorance of hypoglycemia

When you have diabetes and have recurring episodes of hypoglycemia, your brain may become less able to recognize hypoglycemia because your body stops showing symptoms. This is called hypoglycemic unconsciousness and it often occurs at night when you are asleep.

It is more common in type 1 diabetes than in type 2 diabetes. If this continues, blood sugar levels could become dangerously low, leading to coma or even death.

If you have chronic episodes of hypoglycemia, talk to your doctor right away so they can get them under control.


If left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to any of the serious symptoms listed above, such as seizures, loss of consciousness, and ultimately death. This is why it is so important to treat hypoglycemia right away, regardless of the cause. Hypoglycemia can also lead to accidents such as falls, traffic accidents, and injuries.

Since hypoglycemia is not a disease in and of itself, but rather a symptom of another problem, such as having a fever, it is imperative that you and your healthcare provider investigate the cause of hypoglycemia, especially if it is not. are diabetic or diabetic and have ongoing episodes of hypoglycemia.

When to contact a healthcare provider

If you are not diabetic and have symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should see your doctor immediately. even if you can alleviate symptoms by eating simple carbohydrates such as 4 ounces of juice or non-diet soda, a serving of jams as directed on the package, a banana, 8 ounces of milk, 1 tablespoon of honey or corn syrup, or 2 tablespoons raisins …

Hypoglycemia means something else is going on and you need to find out what is to cure it before hypoglycemia becomes life threatening. If symptoms persist after treating hypoglycemia with the above measures, go to the emergency room immediately.

If you are diabetic , you will most likely have to deal with hypoglycemia from time to time. If your blood sugar is below 70 mg / dL, try one of the remedies above or take the glucose tablets as directed on the package. Once your blood sugar levels return to normal, you can resume your normal activities. However, if you have been treated for hypoglycemia and your blood sugar remains low and / or you still have symptoms, it is time to contact your healthcare professional as soon as possible.

You should also contact your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of nocturnal hypoglycemia and / or recurrent episodes of hypoglycemia, as these can become serious and life-threatening problems if left untreated.

If you or a loved one has severe symptoms such as behavior changes, confusion, visual changes, slurred speech, seizures, or loss of consciousness, seek emergency help.

Frequently asked questions

  • It's unclear, but the longer you live with diabetes, the more likely you won't notice the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes, may over time cause changes in the way the brain uses glucose, reducing the brain's ability to respond to signs of hypoglycemia. However, more research is needed to understand this condition.

  • You may feel shaky and weak at first. Other common signs of a hypoglycemic attack include:

    • Perspiration
    • Headache
    • Vision changes
    • Severe mood swings and increased irritability.

    If symptoms are not treated, it can lead to confusion, seizures, or loss of consciousness.

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