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Hypoglycemia In A Person With Diabetes


Hypoglycemia is a serious condition that happens when your blood glucose (sugar) level drops too low. The blood sugar level is usually too high in a person with diabetes, but the level can also drop too low. It is important to follow your diabetes management plan to keep your blood sugar level steady.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have a seizure or pass out.
  • You feel you are going to pass out.
  • You have trouble thinking clearly.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your blood sugar is less than 50 mg/dL and does not respond to treatment.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have had symptoms of low blood sugar several times.
  • You have questions about the amount of insulin or diabetes medicine you are taking.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Insulin or diabetes medicine help to keep your blood sugar under control.
  • Glucagon may be needed if you have severe hypoglycemia.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need dose changes to your insulin or oral diabetes medicine if you have hypoglycemia. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage hypoglycemia:

  • Check your blood sugar level right away if you have symptoms of hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is usually 70 mg/dL or below. Ask your healthcare provider what blood sugar level is too low for you.
  • If your blood sugar level is too low, eat or drink 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate. Examples of this amount of fast-acting carbohydrate are 4 ounces (½ cup) of fruit juice or 4 ounces of regular soda. Other examples are 2 tablespoons of raisins or 3 to 4 glucose tablets. Check your blood sugar level 15 minutes later. If the level is still low (less than 100 mg/dL), have another 15 grams of carbohydrate. When the level returns to 100 mg/dL, eat a snack or meal that contains carbohydrates. This will help prevent another drop in blood sugar. Always carefully follow your healthcare provider's instructions on how to treat low blood sugar levels.
  • Always carry a source of fast-acting carbohydrate. If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia and you do not have a blood glucose meter, have a source of fast-acting carbohydrate anyway. Avoid carbohydrate foods that are high in fat. The fat content may make it take longer to increase your blood sugar level. Ask your healthcare provider if you should carry a glucagon kit. Glucagon is a medicine that is injected when you develop severe hypoglycemia and become unconscious. Check the expiration date every month and replace it before it expires.

  • Teach others how to help you if you have symptoms of hypoglycemia. Tell them about the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Ask them to give you a source of fast-acting carbohydrate if you cannot get it yourself. Ask them to give you a glucagon injection if you have symptoms of hypoglycemia and you become unconscious or have a seizure. Ask them to call 911 . This is an emergency. Tell them never to try to make you swallow anything if you faint or have a seizure.
  • Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have diabetes. Ask where to get these items.

Prevent hypoglycemia:

  • Take diabetes medicine as directed. Take your medicine at the right time and in the right amount. Your healthcare provider may change your blood sugar goals if you get hypoglycemia often.
  • Eat regular meals and snacks. Talk to your dietitian or healthcare provider about a meal plan that is right for you. Do not skip meals.
  • Check your blood sugar level as directed. Ask your healthcare provider what your blood sugar levels should be before and after you eat. Ask when and how often to check your blood sugar level. You may need to check at least 3 times each day. Record your blood sugar level results and take the record with you when you see your healthcare provider. Your provider may use the record to make changes to your medicine, food, or exercise schedules.
    How to check your blood sugar
  • Check your blood sugar level before you exercise. Exercise can decrease your blood sugar level. If your blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL, have a carbohydrate snack. Examples are 4 to 6 crackers, ½ banana, 8 ounces (1 cup) of nonfat or 1% milk, or 4 ounces (½ cup) of juice. If you will exercise for more than 1 hour, you may need to check your blood sugar level every 30 minutes. Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you check your blood sugar level after exercise.
  • Be aware of how alcohol affects your blood sugar level. Alcohol can cause your blood sugar level to drop for up to 12 hours after drinking. Ask your healthcare provider if alcohol is safe for you. If you drink alcohol, always have a snack or meal at the same time. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.