Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)
There are three progressive stages of low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia: mild, moderate, and severe. If you don't correct a low blood sugar quickly, your blood sugar levels can continue to fall, and more severe symptoms may occur. Most people find that they have their own unique set of signs and symptoms to alert them to low blood sugar. If you've had a low blood sugar episode see if you can identify your signs and symptoms below. Also, become familiar with the range of signs and symptoms. As you move from one stage of severity to the next, the signs and symptoms change. Your unique symptoms may change over time as well.
If you have a young child with diabetes who can't tell you when his or her blood sugar is low, it can be difficult to know. Some signs to look for are if your child is very tired, irritable, crying, clumsy, staring off into space, or being unusually quiet or fussy. Check your child's blood sugar if you are suspicious. Over time you will get to know the signs.
Signs of Mild Low Blood Sugar
- shakiness, trembling
- blurred vision
- dizziness (feeling lightheaded)
- not thinking clearly
- feeling nervous or anxious
- being weak
- numbness, tingling of mouth and lips
- sudden hunger
- heart beating fast
Signs of Moderate Low Blood Sugar
- lack of coordination
- personality change
- difficulty speaking
Signs of Severe Low Blood Sugar
- becoming unconscious
- having seizures or convulsions
- unable to correct the low by yourself
- you need help from another person
If left untreated, very low blood sugar can lead to loss of consciousness, seizure, or coma. It may even be fatal. Long term, chronic lows can cause cognitive problems, like memory loss and other issues. Although low blood sugar can happen suddenly, it can usually be treated quickly, bringing your blood glucose level back to normal. If your goal is tight control, talk to your health care team about ways to prevent low blood sugar and how to treat it if it does occur.
Reviewed by Jason C. Baker, M.D. 7/12