Low blood sugar

Low blood sugar

The level of sugar (glucose) in your blood is very important. When this level is too low, your body doesn’t have enough energy to function properly. A low blood sugar level is called hypoglycaemia or a hypo. This can happen in people with diabetes who take medication to increase their insulin levels. People without diabetes can also get a hypo, although this is less common.

The causes of low blood sugar

There are several things that can cause a low blood sugar. People with diabetes who take injections to help their bodies use the glucose in their blood, can get a hypo. This happens when they inject too much insulin. As a result, the blood sugar may drop too low. Sometimes people inject a lot of insulin because they are planning on eating a big meal. If they subsequently don’t eat enough, they can get a hypo.

People without diabetes can also experience a low blood sugar. In this case, it can be caused by certain medication, drinking too much alcohol, some medical conditions such as hepatitis, skipping meals or exercising excessively without eating properly.

The symptoms

Most people will get warning signs from their bodies that their blood glucose levels are too low. Typical signs are dizziness, feeling shaky, headache, feeling hungry, sweating and pale skin, confusion and trembling. When people with diabetes experience one or more of these warning signs they have to take immediate action to correct their low blood sugar.

Treating and preventing

Taking some food or drink that contains sugar will help correct the blood glucose levels. Eating something with carbohydrates can help. It is advised for people with diabetes to keep a snack with a high level of carbohydrates on hand or a carton of fruit juice. Also glucose tablets can help. Obviously, it’s best to avoid a hypo. If you have diabetes and take insulin, the best way is to regularly check your blood sugar levels. Make sure you don’t miss meals or eat less carbohydrates than planned. Also, be careful when drinking alcohol. When exercising, make sure you have a plan for dealing with hypos. For example, you can eat carbohydrates before, during or after exercising.

Ask your doctor for help to establish the correct dose for insulin intake. Read more about glucose levels.