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The Importance of Preventing Hypoglycemia

If you have diabetes, you may experience low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) if there’s too much insulin and not enough sugar in your blood. You may develop hypoglycemia from taking too much diabetes medication or insulin, exercising more than usual or skipping a meal.

Hypoglycemia is defined as blood sugar below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.9 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). Early symptoms of diabetic hypoglycemia include:

  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety

Hypoglycemia Treatment

Work with your diabetes healthcare team to prevent hypoglycemic episodes.

If left untreated, diabetic hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and loss of consciousness. Watch for more severe symptoms such as muscle weakness, jerky movements and blurred vision.

Short-term hypoglycemia treatment involves drinking fruit juice or soda, eating hard candy or taking glucose tablets to raise your blood sugar.

To prevent diabetic hypoglycemia:

  • Don’t skip meals
  • Monitor your blood sugar
  • Take your insulin and diabetes medication as prescribed
  • Record your low glucose reactions to help identify patterns that may contribute to hypoglycemia

As diabetic hypoglycemia is an emergency, use a medical ID necklace so that emergency responders will know that you have diabetes. You can determine if you have low blood sugar by using a blood glucose meter. You can prick your finger, put a drop of blood on a test strip, and insert it into a blood glucose meter.

Other options include a sensor inserted under the skin, called a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), or flash glucose monitoring. FGM consists of a touchscreen reader device and a sensor patch that you wear on the upper arm. It greatly reduces the amount of finger-prick testing you need to do.

Talk to an endocrinologist to learn more about blood glucose monitoring.

Lori Berard RN CDE

Lori Berard is Diabetes Educator with an expertise in diabetes education, management and clinical research. As a certified diabetes educator,…

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