Hypoglycemia

  • Alternative Names

    Insulin shock; Low blood sugar


    Treatment

    Treatment depends on the cause.

    If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar level whenever you have symptoms of low blood sugar. If your blood sugar is low (70 mg/dL), you need to treat yourself right away.

    Eat something that has about 15 grams of carbohydrates. Examples are:

    • 3 glucose tablets
    • A 1/2 cup (4 ounces) fruit juice or regular, non-diet soda
    • 5 or 6 hard candies
    • 1 tablespoon sugar, plain or dissolved in water
    • 1 tablespoon honey or syrup

    Wait about 15 minutes before eating any more. Be careful not to over-treat by eating too much. This can cause high blood sugar and weight gain.

    Persons with severe hypoglycemia are treated with glucose injections or the hormone glucagon. Immediate treatment is needed to prevent serious complications or death.

    Preventing low blood sugar is better than having to treat it. When you exercise, check your blood sugar levels. Make sure you have snacks with you if you take insulin or other medicines that lower your blood sugar.

    Ask your doctor or nurse if you need a bedtime snack to prevent low blood sugar overnight. Protein snacks may be best. Do not drink alcohol without eating food. If you do drink, have only one or two drinks at the most.

    Your doctor may tell you to change your diet so that you get more even amounts of glucose into your body throughout the day. You may be told to eat small, frequent meals with complex carbohydrates, fiber, and fat and to avoid simple sugars, alcohol, and fruit juice.

    You should also eat meals at regular intervals, and balance extra exercise with extra food.

    If hypoglycemia is caused by an insulinoma (insulin-secreting tumor), surgery to remove the tumor is the best treatment.


    Support Groups


    Complications

    Untreated, hypoglycemia from too much insulin can lead to loss of consciousness and coma. Severe hypoglycemia is a medical emergency that may result in seizures and permanent damage to the nervous system if not treated. Severe hypoglycemia that results in unconsciousness is also called insulin shock.

    Learn to recognize the early warning signs of hypoglycemia and treat yourself quickly and appropriately.


    Calling your health care provider

    Go to the emergency room immediately or call a local emergency number (such as 911) if early signs of hypoglycemia do not improve after you've eaten a snack containing sugar.

    Get immediate medical help if a person with diabetes or a history of hypoglycemia loses alertness or if you can't wake them up.