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How is hypoglycemia related to type 1 diabetes?

Hypoglycemia-or low blood sugar-is a common complication of type 1 diabetes. It's caused when there are elevated levels of insulin and insufficient levels of glucose in the blood. Symptoms can vary from minor (anxiety-sweatiness-nervousness-shaking) to more serious (loss of control of bodily movement-sleepiness-impaired speech). If you have type 1 diabetes-you should be aware of these types of symptoms and know what to do when they occur.

William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Hypoglycemia is a side effect of insulin. Well, more correctly, a side effect of too much insulin. It’s common in those of us with Type-1 Diabetes because insulin is the only medication that can keep us alive.

Insulin works by magically pulling excess sugar from your blood and putting it into the cells where it belongs.

Unless you take too much.

Then it magically pulls out an excess amount sugar from your blood, which causes your mind to run out of the fuel it runs on. The effect is uncomfortable at best and fatal at worst.

So you might be wondering, if hypos are caused by taking too much insulin, what kind of idiot overdoses on a medication that might kill them?

And the answer is: it’s not as easy as it looks to know how much you need. Even with fancy insulin pens or pumps, we are still basically using stone tools and bearskins to attempt to do what the infinitely complex and elegant “normal” body does effortlessly. In short, mistakes will happen.

All T-1s suffer occasional bouts of low blood sugar. It comes with the territory. Most lows are annoying, and don’t feel good. But a severe low can be life threatening. While lows are the cost of doing business with insulin, frequent lows are a critical message from your body telling you that your therapy needs adjusting.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.