Do You Know When You Are Low?

By GabbyPA Latest Reply 2014-09-17 14:12:52 -0500
Started 2014-09-08 09:36:04 -0500

I never thought I would experience a low since I always run high. Until insulin was introduced, then I got on that band wagon. Not a fun one to be sure. But at least I can tell when I am dropping. I get all weird feeling, shaking, and a little dizzy. So far I have always been able to get to my meter to see what is going on and treat my low.

But there are some who don't know until it's so low they just pass out. This is called "Hypoglycemia Unawareness" and there are diabetics out there who struggle with this. I found a great article that talks about it:

One of the most interesting things was the idea that the loss of ability to "feel the drop" can be reversed if you can avoid a low for at least two weeks. It seems, like everything else, our bodies adapt to what we put them through, and multiple lows can be part of that.

It was also interesting that the loss of the ability to recognize a low is more common in women than men.

Do you know when you are low? What are your signals? How do you treat it? Have you ever dropped so low you couldn't do for yourself?

41 replies

lcf74 2014-09-12 00:40:52 -0500 Report

I no longer know when I am low. My husband came in this evening and told me I was low. I was 40. I seldom have those cold sweats anymore. I ride a bicycle and often read while I am watching TV or half way watching. If I can't see well enough to read I know I am low. I drank a box of Minute Maid apple juice which has 21 carbs. That was too much today. When I tested in an hour I was 123. Two glucose tabs would most likely have been enough. I endo's nurse says I need to eat also but that will often make it a little high. I am talking two peanut butter crackers.

rolly123 2014-09-11 15:37:08 -0500 Report

That good topic I know when I'm low my back gets real warm and start shake hand and feel weak ! I grab metor and I would be right!

Tippycrawford 2014-09-09 20:01:34 -0500 Report

I have hypoglycemic unawareness because my blood sugar has dropped to 17. I was told by my doctor that your blood sugar will go as low as you've allowed it to go. I have wrecked 3 cars. When the ambulance came the blood sugars were around 24. Going this low affects your brain. By this time I am barely functioning. I can't talk, think, and defenitely drive.

debcox 2014-09-11 23:42:45 -0500 Report

Wow, that sounds scary. I had an incident this morning while out riding. One minute I was fine and the next, I could barely pedal. I was about 1/8 of a mile from my house (I could see it) and decided to ride home and have juice rather than take my glucose. Not a good decision. I'm fine now but my blood sugar has been in the 70-80's all day.

GabbyPA 2014-09-10 18:14:22 -0500 Report

Sounds like a pump with an alarm would be good for you. You are lucky you are alive after crashing 3 cars

Sherrybug3 2014-09-11 16:13:24 -0500 Report

Been there a time or two, my bs was above 300 so much it felt awful when it was near normal, now it feels good when I am "normal". I still struggle to keep it down but I don't give up.

jim hammock
jim hammock 2014-09-09 08:57:34 -0500 Report

Yes,l always feel a low coming on.Lows are scary and a low for me is 70's.Always have something to eat when l exercise or drive.usually eat something every 3 hrs during active daylight hrs.

debcox 2014-09-11 23:44:17 -0500 Report

I'm definitely learning that about exercising. I've been fine for 3 months but have had to incidents in the last week.

wrmjw1 2014-09-08 19:55:33 -0500 Report

i know when im low. i get all shaky and dizzy, it gets severe at times but all i do is drink some pop or eat something that has some kind of sugar in it. luckily i havent dropped so low that i couldnt take care of myself.

robertoj 2014-09-08 19:52:03 -0500 Report

Yes. I can feel a slight trembling sensation. Sometimes I feel light headed and vague sense of dread.

GabbyPA 2014-09-09 06:23:06 -0500 Report

That's it. That is the feeling I have, that vague sense of dread. I couldn't describe it, but you did perfectly.

Chopstix 2014-09-08 19:37:53 -0500 Report

The first time I had a low was a couple months in 2005 after I was put on meds while I on my way to deliver. The last time was summer last year while I was recovering from bypass surgery. Either time was not a good feeling. I think I can deal with a high easier because of the way it makes me feel. Being shaky, weak and loopy at the time is not good. I am under the impression the doctor prescribed a bit too much Lantus. Maybe she thought I eat three full meals a day. Hmm. After I explained what was going on she took me off insulin…

grandma sila
grandma sila 2014-09-08 18:34:00 -0500 Report

I use Glucose Tablets.That way I don't over eat and can carry in my purse. If I am home I use apple juice. You can buy those small cartons too.

debcox 2014-09-08 17:34:36 -0500 Report

Gabby, I have had 4 incidents and two were the same symptoms. I felt like I had a level in me and I could feel it rapidly decrease. The other was that I was anxious and felt like crying. Saturday while out riding about half way through the ride, I started to feel like my level was dropping so we stopped and I took some glucose tablets and was fine. As soon as I got home, I checked my levels which were mid 80's and had breakfast. Next week, I'm going on the same ride but I'm taking a box of juice and some cheese/crackers to munch on. My friend and I decided that we will stop at the half way point (10 miles) and snack.

MarkS 2014-09-08 13:20:30 -0500 Report

Wow, that is a good question! Before being diagnosed with diabetes, my fasting blood glucose was always in the low 60's (annual physical exam blood work). After being diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic (at 32 years of age), rarely could I tell I was getting hypoglycemic, though those around me typically knew something was amiss (glazed look, slow to respond, or responses that were inappropriate). Once I started on the pump I experienced fewer low hypoglycemic episodes (its not unusual for me to me in the 50's and function normally) where my blood sugar would drop to less than 40. However, I still have a hard time of being aware and responding appropriately, though I am better depending upon the time of day. If it happens at work, I usually can tell (blurred vision as I try to read and weird mental images) and treat myself with a fast-acting carbohydrate. It seems that I have a hard time recognizing a low blood sugar after dinner (and the low usually occurs because either the meal had less carbs than I expected or I did not count the carbs correctly). All I can say is thank goodness my wife is very good at knowing when I am "sliding down the slope." I do use a continuous glucose monitor but sometimes either do not hear the alarm or when it does alarm I am so low that "I know better than the CGM." Wish there was a way to tune myself so that I could better recognize a hypoglycemic episode; lord knows I don't need to lose any more brain cells!

GabbyPA 2014-09-09 06:28:07 -0500 Report

You are lucky you can function at 50. There are people who can and that is great. You are also lucky that your wife can tell. That has to be a huge relief. And you need a CGM that will tell you "I know better, get on it" LOL

msann 2014-09-08 13:04:50 -0500 Report

hey gabby I get warm and very nausea nervous don't have control scary feeling when I am low

bethedis 2014-09-08 11:51:58 -0500 Report

I rarely go low and can always tell by the way I feel. I get a weird feeling and a bit dizzy. I've never gone really low. Low for me is in the 80's.

GabbyPA 2014-09-09 06:29:19 -0500 Report

I remember the first time I thought I was low I was 98. LOL. My body was so used to be very high, that a 98 felt weird. Now, if I go low, it's really a low, so I have to be careful.

tabby9146 2014-09-08 10:49:09 -0500 Report

interesting article. thanks Gabby. yes I always feel a low!! sometimes just weird feeling, other times light headed, with no shakiness which is how it was the most, and other times there was the hands shaking some. I have had very few times when I was low enough that I had symptoms and for me, low is around 70. I have been 60 before which I thik was my lowest, but controlling with diet and exercise I have been told several times that I can not go seriously low. sometimes it corrects itself. But I always check when I get that little feeling. I have rarely ever gone more than 4 hours during the day, without eating and I normally start with breakfast, no snack between bfast and lunch sometimes, though it depends on what time I eat b'fast, and always a snack between lunch and dinner. I don't wait late to eat dinner either that is fairly early.

Richard157 2014-09-08 10:45:26 -0500 Report

If my BG drops slowly, my body has time to adjust, so I do not feel a low until I am in the low 60s or high 50s. If my BG drops fast, my body does NOT have time to adjust, and I feel the low while I am in the 70s.

I used to have very bad hypos, and unconsciousness. My mother had to bring me out of those lows and it would take a long time. Later on, when I was a adult and married, my wife did the same thing. I was diagnosed in 1945, when I was 6, and very little was known about diabetes back then, so having stable diabetes control was very difficult. I did not have a meter to test my BG for my first 40 years, and I knew nothing about carbs and their role in the scheme of things until 1988. Now I have the things I need, and have not needed assistance with a low for many years. My pump is a tremendous help.

TLTanner 2014-09-10 13:47:07 -0500 Report

I'm the same way Richard157. If my BG drops slowly, I do not feel it as much and am very functional, even in the low 40's to high 30's. BUT, if it drops fast, then I feel it when it drops below 60-70.

I have had episodes where it dropped and all I felt was a little hungry and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in the hospital or had EMTs at my side. Both of which are scary. I remember once waking up in the hospital with them asking me questions and although I knew the answers, I could not speak no matter how hard I tried. That was upsetting until I realized what was going on and why.

Having the pump and now the CGM, I experience those type of lows less frequently. I get sweaty, blurred vision which sometimes goes out on my completely (like a curtain being lowered), hungry and the feeling like every cell in my body is screaming at me that it's starving and I find that I can't think very well either.

My boyfriend is learning more than he probably ever wanted to know about diabetes, it's complications, medications, and the treatments. LOL But, he is more than willing to learn and has come a long way and now, he can tell when my BG is starting to fall too, even in my sleep. Although we have known each other for over 30 years, we have only been living together for the past 3 years. He has learned a LOT in 3 years! LOL

DulaxTrainer 2014-09-08 10:44:05 -0500 Report

About a week ago, I had experienced a low that scared me, and my boyfriend to he point of panic. I had gotten myself to a 31 BS, somehow, and had no signs to warn me that I was that low. It was very scary. I was sweating profusely. Luckily for me, it happened when we just got to a restaurant to eat with some friends. The server we had, realized I was having a medical issue of some sort, as when I asked to get a pop, she had it back to our table really fast. This incident scares me, as I've had lows like this before, but I don't get any type of warning, symptoms or anything, it just happens. Has anyone else had this happen like this to them? And what really scares me, is what is considered too low, how will I know if its to the point of danger??

jedabolin 2014-09-08 10:28:05 -0500 Report

My symptoms of low are the same as I have to watch very carefully.

GabbyPA 2014-09-08 10:53:09 -0500 Report

I wonder that too, because I have such bad night sweats and sometimes I think it's my body getting me out of a low. I have never found myself low at night, but often high in the mornings after a good night number. I get sweaty when I am high. It's all crazy, and listening to our bodies is paramount.

type 1 mad
type 1 mad 2014-09-17 12:56:38 -0500 Report

i have body wakes me up …i always have at least 3/4 bananas and oranges …and then im buzzing …again ..and cant sleep lol…dont have low sugar ..its aweful i hate it ..just some times it stays and then i get worried …shaking much i cant even drink warm water with sugar in theres more on my shirt then any hwere lol

jayabee52 2014-09-08 10:05:52 -0500 Report

Howdy Gabby
I don't know what alerted me to my hypo but when I got to my meter it read 40. It was so long ago I don't remember (probably more than 15 yrs ago now) what alerted me to it but I was able to drink a regular soda to bring my BG (blood glucose) up.

Also I believe that this is a good time to bring up the 15/15 rule so that we don't get onto the BG roller coaster ~

God's best to all

Type1Lou 2014-09-08 09:48:27 -0500 Report

I'm one of the lucky ones who can usually feel it when I am going low. But I haven't always been successful treating it fast enough to avoid problems. In my early years with diabetes, it was because I was not using a fast-acting carbohydrate to treat, thinking it gave me an excuse to indulge in those forbidden sweets like cake, candy bars and cookies…so not the right thing! Frequent serious low BG's are what finally prompted me to try an insulin pump 3 years ago after 35 years of injections. I happy to report that pumping has eliminated all of those scary, dangerously low BG's for me while giving me better overall control..

theladyiscrazy 2014-09-08 09:46:45 -0500 Report

Yes, I do. Dizzy, weird feeling, cold sweats, and shaky. My duaghter, who is not dx diabetic, gets mean and argumentative.

jayabee52 2014-09-08 10:08:33 -0500 Report

do you mean that when you're going low, your daughter becomes "mean and argumentative"? LoL!

theladyiscrazy 2014-09-08 13:58:47 -0500 Report

No. LOL. My daughter has not been dx as diabetic but I do know she deals with hypoglycemia. Her levels will drop low and when it does she becomes mean and argumentative, until she eats. It is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type thing.

TLTanner 2014-09-10 13:51:47 -0500 Report

I tend to get that way too, although, not so much as I did when I was younger. It's a good thing too! LOL

I try to treat mine with a fast acting carb and then some protein along with it, I really like peanut butter. :-)

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