Hypoglycemia – Facts and Treatment

What is a low blood sugar reaction?

Low blood sugar is also known as hypoglycemia.

When there is too much insulin and not enough food, your blood sugar can drop to less than 80 mg. Then you feel:

  • Weak
  • Hungry
  • Tired
  • Sweaty
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Drowsy
  • Seizures

In very serious situations, a very low blood sugar can even lead to a coma. This is why it is very important to pay pay attention to low blood sugar symptoms. You could lose control and have a seizure or even lapse into a coma which is a life-threatening condition.

It is better to stop what you are doing for a few minutes and eat some sugar instead of lapsing into this very serious condition.

Coma If you FAIL to pay attention to low blood sugar symptoms, you could lose control and have a seizure or even lapse into a coma which is a life-threatening condition.

How do you treat a low blood sugar reaction?

You must eat a fast-acting food to raise your blood sugar immediately but also eat a food that will keep your blood sugar normal for a sustained period of time.

Immediately eat or drink 15 grams of carbohydrate, half fast-acting, half slow-acting. It is best to carry a mixture of 7.5 gms of dried fruit and 7.5 gms of nuts with you at all times, as this combination contains both a fast-acting and sustained-acting food. If you do not feel better in 15 minutes, check your blood sugar again. If it is still 80 mg or less, then eat another 15 grams of carbohydrate.

If your hypoglycemic reaction occurs just before meal time, eat your meal at once, and take the meal dose of insulin immediately after finishing your meal.

Treatment Options

Here are some examples of 15 gm of fast acting and sustained acting foods.

  • 2-3 teaspoonful of sugar
  • Two toffees
  • Two biscuits
  • 1⁄2 glass of orange juice
  • 1⁄2 glass of regular coke
  • One apple
  • 1/2 glass of milk
  • 1/2 cup yogur
  • one slice of bread
  • one small roti



What are the circumstances when you might get a low blood sugar reaction?

You took a regular dose of meal time insulin but did not eat all of your meal or you vomited the entire meal.

You did an extra amount of unplanned exercise such as a bike ride or a hard game of basketball, or running.





Information and images from wwww.penpalsunited.org are from or inspired by Living the Sweet Life with Diabetes: The Art of balancing insulin, diet, and exercise by Dr. Santosh Gupta, MD, MRCP (UK), CDE.  You can access the book here: http://manavseva.org/downloads/book-english.pdf

The Penpals United website does not contain medical advice.  Any contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material, are intended for informational and educational purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice.  Such contents are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.