Hypoglycemia occurs when blood glucose (sugar in your blood) levels drop below normal levels. The term hypoglycemia usually refers to a reading on the glucose meter (device that measures blood glucose) that is less than 4 mmol/L. Glucose is an essential sugar that our body requires and an important source of energy. Having low blood glucose can therefore interfere with the proper functioning of the body and can cause severe symptoms.
Hypoglycemia can occur at any time in healthy individuals, regardless of age. The condition however, is more common in those with diabetes, a disease characterized by blood glucose levels that are too high. Diabetics take medication to bring down their blood glucose levels, which helps them achieve normal levels. Some situations however, lead to a greater than expected drop, resulting in hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemic episodes can occur for several reasons:
Hypoglycemic episodes can develop slowly, but can also appear suddenly and progress quickly. Symptoms vary from person to person and are even non-existent in some, especially those who have had diabetes for a long time or if blood sugar drops slowly. Symptoms increase and become more severe as blood sugar drops.
|Low blood sugar
You may experience:
|Very low blood sugar
You may also experience:
Confusion and disorientation|
Loss of consciousness
The following recommendations may help prevent hypoglycemia
Any person with diabetes or prone to hypoglycemia should carry a source of fast-acting glucose and snacks on their person at all times. Friends and loved ones should be instructed on how to treat hypoglycemia. If you are hypoglycemic, it is important for you to notify your pharmacist or physician since hypoglycemia may be the result of improper management of antidiabetic medication, something that can be resolved with a simple medication adjustment.
As soon as the first signs of hypoglycemia appear:
|Sources of fast-acting glucose (15 g)
(blood sugar below 4 mmol/L)
|Higher sources of
fast-acting glucose (20 g)
(blood sugar below 2.8 mmol/L)
1 bottle (59 mL) of liquid Dex4
¾ cups (175 mL) of fruit juice or regular soft drink (not a diet soft drink)
15 mL (1 tablespoon) of honey or maple syrup or corn syrup
4 packets of white sugar (or 15 mL) diluted in water (never use artificial sweeteners such as Splenda®)
5 LifeSavers candies
|Glucose tablets :
1 cup (250 mL) of fruit juice or regular soft drink (not a diet soft drink)
20 mL (4 teaspoons) of honey or maple syrup or corn syrup
5 packets of white sugar (or 20 mL) diluted in water (never use artificial sweeteners such as Splenda®)
7 LifeSavers candies
Chocolate, pastries and whole fruits are not the best choices when treating hypoglycemia. These sugars are considered too slow-acting.
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.