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Diabetes: Dealing With Low Blood Sugar From Insulin

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs in people with diabetes when the sugar (glucose) level in the blood drops below what the body needs to function normally.

  • If your blood sugar drops below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), you may have symptoms, such as feeling tired, weak, or shaky.
  • If your blood sugar drops very low (usually below 20 mg/dL) and you do not get help, you could become confused or drowsy or even lose consciousness and possibly die. If you are pregnant, your baby could be harmed.
  • Low blood sugar can develop if you take too much insulin, do not eat enough food or skip meals, exercise without eating enough, or drink too much alcohol (especially on an empty stomach).
  • You can usually treat mild—and sometimes moderate—low blood sugar by eating something that contains sugar.
  • You should teach your friends and coworkers what to do if your blood sugar is very low.

how.gif  How to deal with low blood sugar emergencies

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Other Works Consulted

  • American Diabetes Association (2013). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2013. Diabetes Care, 36(Suppl 1): S11–S66.

  • Beaser RS (2010). Using insulin to treat diabetes: General principles. In RS Beaser, ed., Joslin's Diabetes Deskbook: A Guide for Primary Care Providers, 2nd ed., pp. 263–296. Boston, MA: Joslin Diabetes Center.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Current as of July 11, 2013

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 11, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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