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Low Blood Sugar Awareness

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Updated March 25, 2010

Low Blood Sugar Awareness

Low Blood Sugar Symptom Awareness

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Low Blood Sugar Awareness:

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) awareness refers to the ability of people with diabetes to sense the physical symptoms of low blood sugar. The common symptoms of hypoglycemia include feeling:

  • confused
  • tired
  • hungry
  • shaky
  • sweaty
  • anxious

Low blood sugar, also called an insulin reaction, typically occurs because your insulin, food, and exercise are out of balance. For example, if you take extra insulin in anticipation of a big meal in 10 minutes but then that meal is delayed, you could experience hypoglycemia.

What is Hypoglycemia Unawareness?

Hypoglycemia unawareness occurs when a person with diabetes is unable to sense those same symptoms. As a result, their blood sugar could become dangerously low and result in unconsciousness, or if prolonged, a coma or even death.

What Causes Hypoglycemia Unawareness?

The most common cause of hypoglycemia unawareness is when your blood sugar levels are elevated for a prolonged period of time. Prolonged levels of high sugar in the blood cause your brain to be less able to sense the symptoms of low blood sugar. This frequently happens, for example, when a person has a persistent spike in their blood sugar at night during sleep.

The good news is that hypoglycemia awareness can usually return if good blood sugar control is consistently practiced for 1-3 weeks.

Sources:

Blood Glucose Awareness Training (BGAT-2). Diabetes Care, April 2001 vol. 24 no. 4 637-642. Accessed March 15, 2010. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/24/4/637.full

Detection of Symptoms by Adolescents and Young Adults With Type 1 Diabetes During Experimental Induction of Mild Hypoglycemia. Diabetes Care, May 2002 vol. 25 no. 5 852-858. Accessed March 15, 2010. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/5/852.full

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