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When Your Blood Sugar Gets Too Low

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If you have diabetes and think you have hypoglycemia, check your blood sugar level.

Do your levels often drop after meals that include a lot of sugars? Change your diet. Avoid sugary foods, and eat frequent small meals during the day.

If you get low blood sugar when you haven't eaten, have a snack before bedtime, such as a protein or a more complex carbohydrate.

Your doctor may find that you take too much insulin that peaks toward the evening-to-morning hours. In that case, she may lower your insulin dose or change the time when you get your last dose of it.

When You Have Low Blood Sugar

First, eat or drink 15 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate, such as:

  • Three to four glucose tablets
  • One tube of glucose gel
  • Four to six pieces of hard candy (not sugar-free)
  • 1/2 cup fruit juice
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup soft drink (not sugar-free)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (put it under your tongue so it gets absorbed into your bloodstream faster)

Fifteen minutes after you've eaten a food with sugar in it, check your blood sugar again. If your blood sugar is still less than 70 mg/dL, eat another serving of one of the foods listed above. Repeat these steps until your sugar becomes normal.

If You Pass Out

Hypoglycemia may make you pass out. If so, you'll need someone to give you a glucagon injection.

Glucagon is a prescription medicine that raises blood sugar, and you may need it if you have severe hypoglycemia. It's important that your family members and friends know how to give the injection in case you have a low blood sugar reaction.

If you see someone having a severe hypoglycemic reaction, call 911 or take him or her to the nearest hospital for treatment. Do not try to give an unconscious person food, fluids, or insulin, as they may choke.

Do Not Drive When You Have Low Blood Sugar

It's very dangerous. If you're driving and you have hypoglycemia symptoms, pull off the road, check your blood sugar, and eat a sugary food. Wait at least 15 minutes, check your blood sugar, and repeat these steps if necessary. Eat a protein and carbohydrate source (such as peanut butter crackers or cheese and crackers) before you drive on.

Be prepared. Keep a sugar source in your car at all times for emergencies.

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