Low blood sugar

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
Though diabetes is a problem involving consistently high blood sugar levels, you'll also need to watch for swings in the other direction. When blood sugar falls too low, which is defined as a reading of 70 or below, this is known as hypoglycemia (hy-poe-gly-SEE-mee-uh). Several conditions can cause low blood sugar in diabetics. For example, going long periods without food, or taking too much insulin, or too much of certain diabetes medications. Some non-prescription drugs can reduce blood sugar, too. Alcohol can also contribute to this condition. The effect is less prominent when you eat something with your drink; still, alcohol should only be consumed in moderation. Another possible cause of low blood sugar is exercising, which usually lowers levels for a few hours. When blood sugar drops too low, you may feel irritable, shaky, dizzy, confused, or tired. You might get sweaty, or experience blurred vision or an increased heartbeat. Numbness of the lips, nausea, and vomiting are other signs. Learn to recognize the telltale symptoms, and act quickly. Eat or drink something with sugar right away; carry some glucose tablets or candy with you at all times for this purpose. When you won't be eating a regular meal within 30 minutes, have a snack to help stabilize your glucose levels. If low blood sugar episodes occur frequently, speak to a doctor. You may need to adjust your medication, or make other changes.
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