The Lows and Highs

Always wear your MedicAlert® identification.

The Lows of Blood Glucose

  • What is low blood glucose (hypoglycemia)?

    Low blood glucose levels happen when the amount of sugar in your blood is less than your target range.

    Your doctor or Diabetes Educator will set your target range, and it can vary from person to person. Your target is as individual as you are!

  • What causes low blood glucose?

    Low blood sugar levels may be caused by:

    • More physical activity than usual
    • Not eating on time or skipping a meal
    • Eating less carbohydrates than you should have
    • The effects of diabetes medications
    • The effects of drinking alcohol
  • What are the signs of low blood glucose?

    If you have low blood sugar you may feel:

    • Shaky, light-headed, nauseated
    • Nervous, irritable, anxious
    • Unable to concentrate
    • Hungry
    • Your heart rate is faster
    • Sweaty, headachy
    • Weak, drowsy
    • A numbness, or tingling in your tongue or lips

    Very low blood sugar can make you:

    • Confused and disoriented
    • Lose consciousness
    • Have a seizure
  • How do you treat low blood glucose?

    Low blood sugar (less than 4 mmol/L) can happen quickly, so it’s important to treat it right away.

    1. Test your blood glucose immediately. If you don’t have your meter with you then treat your symptoms right away.

    2. Eat or drink a fast-acting carbohydrate (15 grams). Some examples include:

    • 15 g of glucose in the form of glucose tablets (preferred choice)
    • 15 mL (1 tablespoon) or 3 packets of table sugar dissolved in water
    • 175 mL (3/4 cup) of juice or regular soft drink

    3. Wait 10 – 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose (BG) again. If it is still low:

    • Treat again; wait 10 – 15 minutes and test again. If it is still below your target, repeat this again until your BG result is above 4 mmol/L
    • If your next meal is more than 1 hour away, or you are going to be active, eat a snack. For example: half of a sandwich or cheese and crackers. It should be something with 15 grams of carbohydrate and a protein source.
    • Think about why your blood glucose went low, and make changes so that it doesn’t happen again. If you need help to know what changes you should make talk to your Diabetes Educator
    • Wait 45 – 60 minutes before driving

The Highs of Blood Glucose

Common Terms

Millimoles per liter is the standard unit for measuring glucose in blood.