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Hypoglycemia - What You Need to Know


Updated January 12, 2009


The term hypoglycemia (also called an insulin reaction) refers to when your blood sugar (glucose) level is low; below 70 mg/dl. Low blood sugar occurs at least periodically for every person with type 1 diabetes. Since glucose is needed for every bodily function, a low level of blood sugar can quickly lead to impairment and unconsciousness if not treated.

Common symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Confusion or difficulty paying attention
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shakiness
  • Clumsy movements
  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Difficulty speaking

When hypoglycemia is suspected, testing blood sugar is the best way to confirm the symptoms. If testing is not possible, or testing confirms low sugar, treat the symptoms with some fast-acting carbohydrate such as glucose tablets, ½ cup of fruit juice or non-diet soda or several pieces of hard candy. After you treat the initial symptoms, wait 20 minutes and test your blood again. If your blood sugar level is still low, repeat the above treatment.


Hypoglycemia. American Diabetes Association. Accessed August 18, 2008. http://www.diabetes.org/type-1-diabetes/hypoglycemia.jsp

Hypoglycemia. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Retrieved November 23, 2008. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/hypoglycemia/

Pronunciation: high-po-gli-seemia
Also Known As: Insulin reaction, Low blood sugar
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