10 Telltale Signs of Low Blood Sugar

By rbergman Latest Reply 2009-03-16 07:30:43 -0500
Started 2009-02-21 07:40:57 -0600

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is common among diabetics, and it can occur even when you're carefully managing your diabetes. Hypoglycemia occurs when the amount of blood glucose (sugar in the blood) drops too low to sustain normal functioning. This drop can cause both short- and long-term complications, so it's crucial to monitor your glucose levels and treat hypoglycemia as soon as you're aware of it. Pay attention to these telltale signs of low blood sugar and do your best to keep your glucose under control:

1. Ravenous hunger. If you've already eaten but still aren't satisfied, or if you suddenly, inexplicably feel as if you're starving, your body is signaling that it needs more glucose — preferably from a carbohydrate-rich food source, like raisins, fruit juice, or non-diet soda.
2. Feelings of anxiety. When glucose levels fall too low, your body tells the adrenal glands to release the hormone ephinephrine (also called adrenaline), which signals the liver to make more sugar. The excess ephinephrine creates an "adrenaline rush," which can make you feel anxious.
3. Restless nights. Nocturnal hypoglycemia, which is very common, can cause a number of sleep disturbances. Symptoms include night sweats, nightmares, episodes of waking suddenly and crying out, and feelings of unrest and confusion upon waking. A snack before bed can reduce the frequency and severity of sleep disturbances.
4. Shakes and tremors. The central nervous system starts to malfunction when glucose levels are off balance, and it releases catecholamines, chemicals that encourage glucose production and produce these symptoms.
5. Emotional instability. One of the neurological symptoms of hypoglycemia is mood swings and sudden emotional episodes not typical of your normal behavior, such as irrational outbursts, random or hysterical crying, uncontrollable anger, and a strong desire to be left alone.
6. Sweating. This symptom is controlled by the autonomic nervous system (the part of the central nervous system that governs the skin, among other things) and is usually one of the first signs of hypoglycemia. The excessive perspiration comes on without warning, regardless of how warm or cold the external temperature may be.
7. Dizziness and light-headedness. If you experience these common symptoms of hypoglycemia, heed them and treat the hypoglycemia quickly. Dropping blood sugar levels can also cause you to faint, so if you feel yourself start to swoon, sit or lie down immediately to avoid injuring yourself.
8. Wandering thoughts. Because the brain is especially sensitive to a drop in glucose, you may experience a sense of confusion and an inability to concentrate on one thing at a time.
9. Vision problems. If your vision suddenly blurs or you see double, a drop in blood sugar may be to blame.
10. Slurred speech. Your sugar-starved brain may not allow you to detect a change in how you sound, but others will notice a difference. To someone else, you may sound as though you've had a few too many cocktails — even though you haven't touched a drop.

24 replies

Betty Gene
Betty Gene 2009-03-16 06:58:48 -0500 Report

I have had type 2 diabetes for 15 years. I have read through the material here and one of the symptoms of low sugar I have had from the beginning has not been classical but
when I test my sugar has been below 65. My signal is being COLD. That is no matter the weather or my activity. I have also learned that a cracker and a drink of orange juice is the best for me. OJ is quick and cracker long lasting.

DJ 2009-03-16 07:30:43 -0500 Report

I'm with you Betty…Cold is one of my indicators too. I woke this morning feeling very sleepy and not wanting to even step foot outside my nice warm bed, and when I did pry myself out, I still felt sleepy,cold and kind of confused and immediately said "I guess this is going to be a low morning" and I was right my BG was 106(I know not low for most people)but my normal BG is about 130 and that is where I feel the best.It seems I was cold most of the evening last night before bed too,and just thought it was because the temps were down outside..but the house was 70 degrees so I shouldn't have needed a sweater but I did. I guess eating an hour earlier than usual(steamed Veggies and Shrimp with a lg. glass of 1% milk),just wasn't enough carbs..but I did eat a light carb snack before bed and after taking my Insulin. This is such a learning experience,that just never seems to end Huh?This is a very useful topic,thank-you for posting it!!

dj7110 2009-02-26 00:11:35 -0600 Report

these signs are good for all of us and those around us (family & friends) to look for. I would like to just add that many of these same signs also apply to high sugars (Hyperglycemia). So when any of these signs first show it's best to check sugar if you can. However if the syptoms are to shaking (emergancy) it's always best to treat as a low first. I always keep glucose tablets on hand in case needed. most drug stores carry these.

roger 2009-02-26 17:47:32 -0600 Report

i also keep the little tube of jell frosting just make sure it is sugar based not just chemicals i am less likly to eat the frosting then the tablets

2009-02-26 21:43:33 -0600 Report

I carry 2 tubes of sugar pellets with me all the time, plus a Tootsie Pop.

roger 2009-02-27 16:53:13 -0600 Report

they would be a snack about 1100am or 230pm if i did not have them in my truck 0n the way in the am. get up at 500am every am to get ready to drive at least 46 miles one way every day.and befor you all yell at me i test befor i get behind the wheel each time or have one of the other guys drive if i dont seem right

2009-02-25 22:39:42 -0600 Report

As far as the restless sleep, I get restless legs when my sugar is high. Is that weird?

rbergman 2009-02-25 22:58:18 -0600 Report

I haven't decided if I have true restless leg syndrome or what but I can't lay still while falling asleep I always have to be moving my feet or legs, Dean says I do it in my sleep a lot too. Just another thing on my list to ask a doctor about once I come up with the money for the visit…I'm gonna get my monies worth when I go that's for sure lol

2009-02-26 21:44:19 -0600 Report

Damned straight, question the heck outta that doc, that's what they get paid for, not just 'practicing' medicine!! lol

2009-02-24 06:21:44 -0600 Report

Great information Robin. I have some of these symptoms I didn't even realize I had! I have printed this for future reference. Thanks for the information! Hugs

roshy 2009-02-23 17:39:41 -0600 Report

my dad cant tell when he is going low. He said ever since the insulin was manufactured differently (pig insulin to lab constructed insulin) the tell tail signs are not obvious to him anymore. He also thinks that as you get older the signs do not become as obvious .Although everyone else can clearly see that he is low he fails to reckonise the signs himself.
Does anyone else have this problem??

rbergman 2009-02-23 22:42:15 -0600 Report

Roshy, in another discussion, " What is your low threshold" several people talk about gradually not being able to feel a low like they use to do so your father is not alone.

roshy 2009-02-24 06:06:53 -0600 Report

cool, im gona check that one out and then show it to my mam!!! she really cant understand why he cant feel it and others can!!

thank you!

Janice5208 2009-02-22 02:59:30 -0600 Report

thanks ,Imtaking a copy to the doctor when I go back,really good information,thanks ,I think #2and#5 are mine

Debe Pendice
Debe Pendice 2009-02-21 19:41:34 -0600 Report

I think this a very good discussion all diabetics should read. Being a diabetic many years now, I have none of these signs anymore. I just go out without any warning signs at all now. But I always knew I was low when I was shaky. I probably have been through each and everyone of these at one time or another. But at this time it is scarey for me, because I don't know until I come to. I wish I still got the signs though…Debe

tabby9146 2009-02-21 18:57:25 -0600 Report

yep, #7 and #2 have alwys been my low signals. Feeling anxious, nervous, and then light headed, or sometimes in reverse. This first happened way back about 6 years ago, and my doctor did not even do a glucose tolerance test. I was diagnosed 3 1/2 months ago. I wish she had back then, perhaps I did not have diabetes then, but pre-diabetes and maybe I could have made the changes to prevent it. Thanks for posting this!

roger 2009-02-21 18:48:03 -0600 Report

at work on friday i had one of thoes lows that just hit me. i was working hard and went to reach for somthing in my truck when i saw my hand was shaking.i got in and did my bg and it was 55 my first responce was to close my eys to see if i had the brite spots i see when going low and they were there just had not noticed them so then i stoped my pump for about one hr but checked my bg about every 15 min after having a shot from the little jell frosting i carry it has a long date and i am not temt to have it any other time.

2009-02-21 18:28:30 -0600 Report

You mean wandering thoughts aren't just a normal thing??? LOL Geeze!!

When my sugar goes low, I can't think, I guess that's the wandering thoughts thing.

growingupartists 2009-02-21 16:00:33 -0600 Report

My diabetes specialist showed us a wonderful chart for children, cute cartoonish characters showing the different emotions. My 7 year old even understood "nervous" and "fatigued". She calls it VIBRATING, starts in her legs.

We're just adjusting to a two-weeks in diagnosis, so a drop to 60 scared the daylights out of me. Doctor says there's a comfortable buffer from 80 that includes 60.

I just wish I understood all the numbers better.

LadyDi - 26259Miller
LadyDi - 26259Miller 2009-02-21 14:58:33 -0600 Report

Definitely my experience when occasionally dropping too low. It's a scary feeling. Diabetics really need to know what to look for and expect when this happens and be prepared.

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