Diabetic Hypoglycemia

What is Diabetic Hypoglycemia?

Diabetic hypoglycemia occurs when a diabetic patient’s blood sugar levels drop, essentially depriving the body of its main source of energy. A common condition, it is also known as insulin shock due to the fact that is most frequently seen in those who take insulin as part of their treatment plan. However, people can also experience hypoglycemia when it is triggered by other factors, such as not eating enough food, waiting too long between meals, and excessive alcohol use.

On average, a person is considered to have low blood sugar when it drops to under 70 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter). Every patient is different, and a doctor can determine what number is considered too low for each individual. With this information on hand, diabetic hypoglycemia can often be prevented through regular monitoring of blood sugar levels.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Hypoglycemia?

Every diabetic patient experiences hypoglycemia in a different way. After a while, most learn to recognize how they react and when they need treatment.

Symptoms include

  • Confusion
  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Excessive hunger
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Pale skin
  • Sleepiness
  • Slurred speech

Left untreated, diabetic hypoglycemia can lead to more severe symptoms like poor concentration, passing out, lack of coordination, nightmares, numbness in the tongue and mouth, and coma. Some cases may result in death.

How is Diabetic Hypoglycemia Treated?

Hypoglycemia, diabetic or otherwise, can easily be managed through modification of a person’s diet. Whenever blood sugar levels drop, consuming foods and drinks with high sugar levels like regular soda or orange juice is an effective way of quickly treating the immediate symptoms.

For more long-term management, medications or insulin injections may be prescribed to regulate blood sugar levels. Doctors will also recommend other treatments to help manage the underlying diabetes that causes the condition.

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Last Reviewed:
September 20, 2016
Last Updated:
August 09, 2017