For people with diabetes, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs when there's too much insulin and not enough sugar (glucose) in the blood. Hypoglycemia is defined as blood sugar below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.9 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
Several factors can cause hypoglycemia in people with diabetes, including taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications, skipping a meal, or exercising harder than usual.
Pay attention to early warning signs, so you can treat low blood sugar promptly. Treatment involves short-term solutions — such as taking glucose tablets — to raise your blood sugar into a normal range.
Untreated, diabetic hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and loss of consciousness — a medical emergency. Rarely, it can be deadly. Tell family and friends what symptoms to look for and what to do in case you're not able to treat the condition yourself.
Feb. 20, 2015
- Kronenberg HM, et al. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
- Cryer PE. Management of hypoglycemia during treatment of diabetes mellitus. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
- Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-low-blood.html. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
- Hypoglycemia. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/hypoglycemia/. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.