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Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

Low blood sugar (also known as Hypoglycemia) is a condition found in Diabetics that is characterized by low blood glucose. When your blood sugar level drops well below normal, your muscles and brain are starving for the energy they get from glucose to function properly. Low blood sugar is most often a side effect of insulin and other Type 2 Diabetes medications.

The Biology of Low Blood Sugar

Almost all of the foods you eat have sugar of some form in it. Glucose (interactive) including fructose and galactose are special sugars that provide energy and cell building material for your body. Glucose is most often found in carbohydrate-rich food, such as rice, potatoes, bread, cereal, sweets and fruit. After you eat these carbohydrates, The carbs are digested down to glucose. The glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream and converted into usable energy units that are absorbed by your cells.

Insulin helps to convert glucose into the usable energy units that your cells use for energy. Insulin also helps to store excess glucose in your liver and muscles for later use. When those energy units are stored instead of used, the glucose becomes glycogen. Glycogen becomes fat if it is never used by your muscles and organs.

In order for your muscles and liver to release the glycogen from storage, your glucose level needs to fall below normal. At this point of low glucose, your pancreas releases a hormone called called glucagon. Glucagon tells the liver to release glycogen to generate glucose.

However, many Diabetics do not have a normal response to low blood sugar due either to their natural chemistry or to their medications. When the body does not release the glucagon in response to low blood sugar, it takes longer for the glucose levels to rise to a normal level again. Usually, Diabetics must eat something with sugar in it in order to quickly restore the glucose levels in their blood to normal levels.

Low blood sugar is usually caused naturally when your blood sugar level drops below normal due to your Diabetes medications or eating habits. However, Low blood sugar can also be caused by the following conditions:

Skipping meals
Eating too little
Taking too much insulin or other Type 2 Diabetes medications
Increased exercise
Alcohol consumption
What is the Ideal Blood Glucose Level?

Normal blood glucose levels (measured in mg/dL)

Morning (before breakfast)


After meals


Target blood glucose levels for Diabetics

Morning (before breakfast)


1-2 hours after a meal

Less than 180

Low blood sugar

70 or below

Symptoms of Low blood sugar
Low blood sugar has many symptoms, including:

Feelings of hunger, even after a large meal
Dizziness or feelings of faint
Difficulty speaking
Feelings of weakness
You may also have low blood sugar during sleep, in which case you might:
Cry out or talk in your sleep
Have nightmares
Wake up feeling tired, confused, or irritable
How Can I Treat Low blood sugar?

First test your blood with a Diabetes Testing Kit to prove you have low blood sugar. Some low blood sugar symptoms are similar to high blood sugar symptoms.

In most cases, you can quickly treat low blood sugar by drinking or eating something with a high level of sugar, such as orange juice or a piece of candy. If your low blood sugar goes untreated, you may faint, have seizure or even lose consciousness.

Talk to your Diabetes medical team for more information about treating your low blood sugar, as your doctor or Diabetes dietician may suggest a particular meal plan or exercise regimen that will help to ease the side effects of your low blood sugar.

If your blood glucose level falls below 70 mg/dL, you can raise the level quickly by taking one of the following fast-acting remedies:

2 or 3 glucose tablets
cup of fruit juice
cup of soda
1 cup of milk
5 or 6 pieces of hard candy
1 or 2 teaspoons of sugar

If you suffer from Diabetic low blood sugar, be sure to tell your family and friends about your condition. In some cases, your low blood sugar may cause you to lose consciousness, in which case, you will need to be injected with glucose. Type 1 Diabetics are especially prone to this kind of insulin side effect. Thus, many Diabetics carry glucose tablets with them for quick fixes.