C-health COVID-19 Update

Hypoglycemia

Low blood sugar levels.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is defined as when your blood sugar levels are less than 4.0 mmol/L.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

If your blood sugars are low you may experience any of the following symptoms. You will learn to recognize your own symptoms.

  • Shaky
  • Lightheaded
  • Irritable
  • Confused
  • Weak
  • Sweaty
  • Pounding heart
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling in your mouth or lips

Causes of Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia occurs when there is not enough sugar in your body. This can be caused by:

  • Missing a meal or not eating a whole meal
  • More activity than usual or than expected
  • Not eating when you are sick
  • Eating later than usual
  • Taking too much of your diabetes medications
  • Drinking alcohol

How to Treat Hypoglycemia

If you have a low blood sugar, or are experiencing the symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should treat yourself for hypoglycemia. To treat hypoglycemia you must eat or drink 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate (sugar). Each of the following is 15 grams of carbohydrate:

  • 3-4 dextrose (dex 4) tablets
  • 3 packets of table sugar dissolved in water
  • ½ cup orange or apple juice
  • 6 lifesavers (must chew)
  • ½ cup regular sugar soda
  • 1 tbsp honey

After treating a low blood sugar you should:

  • Wait 15 minutes, then test you sugars again
  • If your blood sugar levels are still less than 4 mmol/L, eat another servings of one of the above choices
  • If your sugar is greater than 4 mmol/L, you need to have something to eat within 45 minutes.
  • If your next meal is scheduled within the next 45 minutes, eat that. If not, eat a balanced snack that contains 15 grams (1 serving) of carbohydrate and a protein source.
    • Examples:
    • 7 soda crackers + 1 oz of cheese
    • 1 slice of bread + 2 tbsp peanut butter
    • ½ peach + ¼ cup 1% cottage cheese

If you blood sugar drops very low you may become confused and disoriented, lose consciousness or have a seizure. If you are experiencing the signs or symptoms of a low blood sugar you need to test your blood sugar immediately. If you do not have you meter with you treat the symptoms anyways. It is better to be safe!

Alberta has the lowest rate of diabetes in Canada at 4.9%, compared to the highest in Newfoundland and Labrador at 6.5%.