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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetic Shock and Insulin Reactions

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What Causes Hypoglycemia?

Several things can cause hypoglycemia. Your blood sugar level could be low if you:

  • Become more physically active than usual
  • Miss a meal
  • Change when or how much you normally eat
  • Take your insulin or medication at a different time than usual
  • Drink alcohol excessively without eating

Are There Symptoms of Hypoglycemia or Warning Signs of Diabetic Shock?

The symptoms of hypoglycemia can be classified as mild or early, moderate, and severe. Mild symptoms include:

Moderate symptoms include:

When hypoglycemia becomes severe, symptoms include:

Hypoglycemia can also occur overnight while you sleep. Symptoms include:

  • Crying out in your sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Damp pajamas or sheets resulting from perspiration
  • Waking tired, irritable, or confused

If you experience any possible signs of hypoglycemia, it's important to check your blood sugar to make sure it isn't low. If it is, you should treat it quickly or seek emergency care. If you can't check your blood sugar level for some reason, you should go ahead and treat yourself for low blood sugar if you notice symptoms or seek emergency care. If symptoms are moderate, severe, or you are unable to help yourself, seek emergency medical attention.

How Is Hypoglycemia Treated?

If your hypoglycemia is mild or moderate, the best way to raise your blood sugar level quickly is to eat or drink some form of sugar. You might take glucose tablets, which you can buy at the drug store. Or you may want to drink a half cup of fruit juice or eat five to six pieces of hard candy.

Other snacks you can use to raise your sugar level include:

  • One-half cup of regular soda -- not diet
  • Cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • One-quarter cup raisins
  • 2 large or 6 small sugar cubes dissolved in water

You can also ask your doctor or dietitian for recommendations for other snack items that can help raise your blood sugar level when you need to.

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