How Do I Recognize And Treat Low Blood Sugar Levels (Hypoglycemia)?

Question: How do I recognize and treat low blood sugar levels (Hypoglycemia)?

Answer: The symptoms of hypoglycemia are really extremely variable. The classic would be that you get shaky and sweaty and a fast heartbeat and you feel suddenly hungry, but those are pretty non-specific when you think about it. You can get those same symptoms if you're just nervous, if you are just wondering if you're low. So really the way to tell if you're low is to have a blood sugar test, to check your finger stick blood sugar and see if you're under 60 or maybe 70 or maybe down in the 50s.

Another problem with detecting hypoglycemia is that if you've had diabetes (for) quite a while it may be that your symptoms change, in other words, over the years there may no longer be a classic shaky, sweaty feeling that you're low and you may have to check your blood sugar more frequently or look for whatever your first symptom is of hypoglycemia. It can vary; it may be a tingling; it may be a change in your mental acuity, how well you can do little problems, how well you're thinking -- that may be your first sign of hypoglycemia. But the important thing, I think, is to know what your sign of hypoglycemia is and to verify that by the blood sugar testing, so you know. Because when you're low you have to treat it; you have to take something to eat, something sweet often -- not too much -- but something to bring your blood sugar back up into a reasonable range, and to get over the hypoglycemia. Because if not treated, hypoglycemia can be severe; it can lead to your being so confused that you don't even know you're low, and that's going to get you in real trouble, because you need someone else to treat you then. So you have to avoid that severe hypoglycemia by taking something to eat when you have first symptoms of mildly low blood sugar.

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