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Symptoms of hypoglycemia include the following:
- Pale skin color
- Sudden moodiness or behavior changes, such as crying for no apparent reason
- Clumsy or jerky movements
- Difficulty paying attention, or confusion
- Tingling sensations around the mouth
Taking certain glucose-lowering medication for diabetes can push blood sugar too low (hypoglycemia), as can skipping a meal or eating too little, exercising more than usual or drinking alcohol.
You will know your blood sugar is low -- 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or less -- when you feel one or more of the following:
- dizzy or light-headedness
- nervous and shaky
Test your glucose to make sure it's low, and if it is at or below 70 mg/dL, consume 15 grams (g) of carbohydrate -- for example, drinking a half cup of juice or three-fourths of a cup of regular (not diet!) soda or taking three to four glucose tabs.
It is important to remember that each person's body responds differently to various levels of blood sugar. Mild, severe, and hypoglycemia fall on a continuum. In general, symptoms become more noticeable as blood sugar gets lower. The symptoms of hypoglycemia may include the following:
- feeling weak
- feeling dizzy
- vision problems
- speech problems
- heart palpitations
if blood sugar continues to fall, symptoms may include seizures and coma. If these symptoms develop, the hypoglycemia has become severe.
Signs and symptoms of low blood sugar include feeling hungry, headache, sweating, nervous, agitation, and nausea.
Sweating, weakness, dizziness, shakiness, and rapid heart rate are examples of symptoms of hypoglycemia (hypo = low; glycemia = blood sugar). Since the brain is critically dependent upon blood sugar as its primary fuel, when hypoglycemia becomes more severe, the brain is seriously affected. In such cases, symptoms of hypoglycemia can range from mild to severe and include such things as: headache, depression, anxiety, irritability, blurred vision, excessive sweating, mental confusion, incoherent speech, bizarre behavior, lack of coordination, and later, if blood sugar goes below critical levels, convulsions, coma, and even death. Insulin- or medication-treated diabetics need to develop a keen awareness of hypoglycemia because serious hypoglycemia episodes can be dangerous. Unfortunately, the bodies of many diabetics become less sensitive to the initial adrenaline-related signs of impending hypoglycemia over time (sweating, weakness, rapid heart rate, etc.). These individuals must develop an ability to monitor subtleties of their brain function instead in an effort to achieve good blood sugar control and avoid catastrophic hypoglycemic episodes.
The neurogenic symptoms include tremor, palpitations, and anxiety/arousal (catecholamine-mediated, adrenergic) and sweating, hunger, and paresthesias (acetylcholine-mediated, cholinergic). In the patient without diabetes, the presence of neuroglycopenic symptoms provides more clinically compelling evidence of an underlying hypoglycemic disorder, as the neurogenic symptoms are particularly nonspecific. Recognition of neurogenic symptoms by patients with diabetes can lead to prompt self-treatment.
Low blood sugar is about 70 mg/dL or less. Along with checking your blood sugar, watch out for these symptoms of low blood sugar:
- Shakiness or dizziness
- Feeling cranky, sad, or confused
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.