Early warning signs and symptoms

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Early signs and symptoms of diabetic hypoglycemia include:

  • Shakiness
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Headache

Nighttime symptoms

Diabetic hypoglycemia can also occur while you sleep. Signs and symptoms, which can awaken you, include:

  • Damp sheets or bedclothes due to perspiration
  • Nightmares
  • Tiredness, irritability or confusion upon waking

Severe symptoms

If diabetic hypoglycemia goes untreated, signs and symptoms of severe hypoglycemia can occur. These include:

  • Clumsiness or jerky movements
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death

Take your symptoms seriously. Diabetic hypoglycemia can increase the risk of serious — even deadly — accidents. Identifying and correcting the factors contributing to hypoglycemia, such as medications you take or irregular mealtimes, can prevent serious complications.

Informing people you trust, such as family, friends and co-workers, about hypoglycemia is important. Their knowing what symptoms to look for and what to do in case you're not able to help yourself can make a potentially difficult situation easier to manage. It's also important that they know how to give you a glucagon injection, in case it becomes necessary.

Symptoms can differ from person to person or from time to time, so it's important to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and keep track of how you're feeling when your blood sugar is low. Some people don't have or don't recognize early symptoms (hypoglycemia unawareness). If you have hypoglycemia unawareness, you may require a higher glucose goal range.

When to see a doctor

Hypoglycemia can leave you confused or even unconscious, which requires emergency care. Make sure your family, friends and co-workers know what to do.

If you lose consciousness or can't swallow:

  • You shouldn't be given fluids or food, which could cause choking
  • You need an injection of glucagon — a hormone that stimulates the release of sugar into the blood
  • You need emergency treatment in a hospital if a glucagon injection isn't on hand

If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia several times a week, see your doctor. You may need to change your medication or your dosage or otherwise adjust your diabetes treatment program.

Feb. 20, 2015

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