Why You Should Worry About Hypoglycemia

A blood sugar warning

Older adults who have diabetes need to take extra precautions so that they don't develop hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. That's especially true for frail adults. Here's why.

Nurse and patient

What's at stake

Hypoglycemia can cause confusion, loss of balance, fainting, dizziness, and injuries from falls, which can lead to fractures and long-term disability that can land you in a nursing home. Unrecognized hypoglycemia can be life threatening.

Dizzy man

What to watch for

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include dizziness, weakness, confusion, disorientation or delirium, anxiety, hunger, heart palpitations, profuse perspiration, shakiness, impaired vision, irritability or impatience, and seizures.

Self injection

What triggers it

You can experience an episode of hypoglycemia if you haven’t eaten for an extended period. It can also occur if you’ve taken too large a dose of insulin or an oral diabetes drug.

Woman checking her blood sugar

Importance of self-monitoring

Your body won’t always tell you when your blood sugar is too low, so you need to be extra diligent about self-monitoring your glucose levels. Be aware of your levels during activities that can cause hypoglycemia, such as fasting for tests or procedures, exercising, or sleeping.


Treating hypoglycemia

Take quick action to reverse hypoglycemia by consuming at least 15 to 20 grams of sugars or carbohydrates at the first sign of any symptoms. This is can be found in 4 ounces of juice or glucose tablets.

Meet Our Writer

HealthAfter50 was published by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, providing up-to-date, evidence-based research and expert advice on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of health conditions affecting adults in middle age and beyond. It was previously part of Remedy Health Media's network of digital and print publications, which also include HealthCentral; HIV/AIDS resources The Body and The Body Pro; the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter; and the Berkeley Wellness website. All content from HA50 merged into Healthcentral.com in 2018.