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What Is Low Blood Sugar?

Blood sugar of less than 70 is low blood sugar. It is also called hypoglycemia. Some symptoms you can expect are:


Shakiness, sweating, fast heartbeat, dizziness, hunger, blurred vision, difficulty paying attention, chest thumping, anxiety, headache, and tiredness


Difficulty moving, confusion, and unusual behavior


Seizures, coma, and combative behavior

Causes of Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar can be caused by the following:

  • Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach

  • Missing a meal or snack or eating less than usual

  • More activity or exercise than usual

  • Taking too much insulin or diabetes medicine

How to Treat Low Blood Sugar Below 70

If you have low blood sugar below 70, take one of the food items listed below. You will need 15 grams of carbohydrate.

This means taking one of the following:

Tube of glucose tablets.

  • One-half tube of glucose gel

  • 4 glucose tablets

  • 6 pieces of hard candy

  • 8 ounces of skim milk

  • 4 ounces of fruit juice (no tomato juice or V8 vegetable juice)

  • 1 tablespoon of jam/preserves, jelly, honey, or sugar

How to Treat Low Blood Sugar Below 50

If you have low blood sugar below 50, take one of the food items listed below. You will need 30 grams of carbohydrate.

This means taking one of the following:

  • 1 tube of glucose gel

  • 8 glucose tablets

  • 8 ounces of fruit juice

  • 2 tablespoons of jam/preserves, jelly, honey, or sugar

Check your blood sugar results in 15 minutes. If it is not better, repeat treatment with 15 grams of carbohydrate. Eat your next meal if it is time, or have a snack of one-half sandwich and a glass of milk if it is 1-2 hours or longer away.

Remember the following:

Medical alert bracelet.

  • Wear an ID bracelet or necklace (ask your diabetes educator).

  • Always carry a quick source of sugar with you.

  • Check your blood sugar before driving and never drive when it is low.

  • Call your healthcare provider or Telephone Advice Nurse if you have several low blood sugar.

  • Tell friends and family to call 911 if you become unable to wake up or unable to swallow.

What Is Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia is the medical term for low blood sugar. This can be something you feel or something you measure. The feelings of low blood sugar may include weakness, shakiness, hunger, sweating, lightheadedness, or just not feeling right. It can be very vague. The measure of your home blood sugar test may be a value of less than 70. But many patients feel poorly with values above this. Symptoms should prompt you to check your blood sugar and, if it is less than 70, treat the low sugar as listed above. This is known as the 15-15 Rule. If low blood sugars occur, talk with your healthcare team about changes in medicine. Click here for more about hypoglycemia.

For more information about the A1C test

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 3/1/2017
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