Hypoglycaemia, also known as low blood sugar, is a condition where the concentration of glucose in your blood is lower than normal. Normal blood sugar levels are generally between 70 and 99 mg/dL when fasting, and up to 140 mg/dL after meals. Low blood sugar levels are generally considered to be below 70 mg/dL.

Glucose is a type of sugar which your body uses for energy, and is mainly supplied through eating foods rich in carbohydrates. If you don’t eat for a long time or if your body uses or loses sugar too quickly, it can cause your blood sugar to drop, leading to hypoglycaemia.


Symptoms of hypoglycaemia can include feeling shaky, confused or irritable, sweating, feeling hungry, having a fast heart rate, and even loss of consciousness in severe cases. It’s commonly associated with the treatment of diabetes, wherein the balance of insulin intake, carbohydrate intake, and physical activities may sometimes mismatch.

However, it can also occur in people without diabetes due to certain medications, excessive alcohol consumption, certain critical illnesses, hormonal deficiencies or prolonged fasting. Immediate treatment usually involves eating a small amount of a sugary food or drink to quickly raise blood sugar levels. Still, the exact treatment can depend on the underlying cause of the hypoglycaemia.

Causes of Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can be caused by several different factors, primarily related to diet and medical conditions. Here are several causes of hypoglycemia:

1. Diabetes Medication: The most common cause of hypoglycemia is as a side effect of medications used for treating diabetes, especially insulin. If a person with diabetes takes too much insulin relative to their food intake or physical activity, they can develop hypoglycemia.

2. Prolonged Fasting or Irregular Eating: Missing meals, eating less than usual, or delaying meals can cause blood sugar levels to drop, leading to hypoglycemia.

3. Excessive Alcohol: Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to raise blood glucose levels. If you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, it may lead to hypoglycemia.

4. Over Exertion/Excessive Exercise: Physical exertion uses up glucose in the body. If it’s not replaced quickly enough, blood sugar levels can drop too low, causing hypoglycemia.

5. Certain Medications: Besides diabetes medications, other drugs like quinine, a medication used to treat malaria, and some antibiotics can also cause hypoglycemia.

6. Particular Health Conditions: Some illnesses like hepatitis, kidney disorders, anorexia nervosa, and severe heart failure can cause hypoglycemia. Conditions that affect the pancreas (where insulin is produced), such as pancreatic tumours or pancreatitis, can also lead to low blood sugar levels.

7. Hormonal Deficiencies: The endocrine system plays a vital role in regulating glucose in the body. Endocrine conditions such as adrenal or pituitary gland failure can lead to hypoglycemia.

8. Reactive Hypoglycemia: This is a condition in which your body reacts to the intake of high levels of carbs by producing an excess amount of insulin, leading to hypoglycemia.

These are some of the common causes, but individual factors can vary, and therefore it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional if you encounter symptoms of hypoglycemia regularly.

Risk Factors of Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycemia, a condition characterized by an abnormally low level of blood sugar (glucose), can be caused by several factors, especially related to lifestyle, diet, and certain health conditions.

1. Medications: Certain medications such as insulin or other diabetes medications can send your blood sugar too low, if not properly managed. Overdosing on these medications unnecessarily increases the risk.

2. Skipping/Delaying Meals: Blood sugar can drop if you’re not consuming enough carbohydrates or if you skip meals, as food is the main source of glucose.

3. Excessive Exercise: While physical activity is generally good for your health, exercising more than usual without eating enough can cause low blood sugar.

4. Overconsumption of Alcohol: Alcohol consumption can block the production of glucose in the body leading to hypoglycemia, particularly if consumed on an empty stomach.

5. Health Conditions: Conditions like kidney disorders, severe liver diseases, or hormonal deficiencies can affect glucose production and result in hypoglycemia.

6. Certain Surgeries: Surgeries, particularly related to the digestive system, can affect the absorption and storage of glucose.

7. Endocrine disorders: These disorders, like adrenal gland deficiency or hypothyroidism, can interfere with glucose production.

Remember it is important that hypoglycemia be diagnosed promptly and treated appropriately to prevent serious complications. The condition should be monitored by a healthcare provider to guide specific treatment and management strategies.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) usually occurs when your blood sugar falls below normal levels. It’s commonly associated with diabetes, but can occur in anyone under certain conditions. Signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia can vary, but may include:

1. Shaking or trembling: One of the most common symptoms is shaking or trembling. This happens because your body needs more glucose to function properly.

2. Sweating: Excessive sweating, especially at night, can be a warning sign of hypoglycaemia.

3. Feeling hungry: You may feel constant hunger, even after eating, because your body is not getting enough glucose.

4. Fatigue: With low blood sugar, you may feel tiredness or weakness, as your body lacks the energy it needs to function properly.

5. Paleness: A person with low blood sugar may have a pale complexion, caused by the body’s effort to divert blood to the important organs and muscles.

6. Palpitations or rapid heart rate: Your heart may beat faster than normal as your body attempts to get more glucose into your cells.

7. Feeling anxious or irritable: Some people feel generally “off” or have mood swings when their blood sugar drops.

8. Poor concentration or confusion: Low blood sugar can affect cognitive functioning, making it difficult to concentrate, remember things or even causing confusion or abnormal behaviour.

9. Blurred vision or dizziness: These can occur if hypoglycaemia is not treated promptly.

10. Seizures or loss of consciousness: In severe cases, a person may have seizures or lose consciousness. This is a medical emergency.

It’s important to note that symptoms can vary from person to person. If you believe you’re experiencing hypoglycaemic episodes, seek medical attention immediately. The conditions can be managed and treated with lifestyle changes and medication if necessary.

Diagnosis Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycaemia, also known as low blood sugar, is a condition where the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood drops below a certain point (usually below 70 mg/dL). Glucose is the body’s main source of energy, so a lower-than-normal level can cause a range of symptoms and even serious complications.

The immediate symptoms of hypoglycaemia can vary but often include feeling shaky, sweaty, hungry, tired, and irritable. If the blood sugar drops even lower, it can lead to more severe symptoms such as confusion, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, and unconsciousness.

Hypoglycaemia is most common in people with diabetes as a side effect of medicines that increase insulin levels in the body, especially if they miss meals or exercise more than usual. However, it can also occur in people who do not have diabetes due to other medical conditions such as liver disease, certain tumours, hormone deficiencies, and some medications.

The treatment for hypoglycaemia is usually to consume some quick-acting carbohydrate to raise the blood sugar levels. In severe cases, a glucagon injection might be needed.

If you experience hypoglycaemic symptoms regularly, it is important to reach out to a healthcare professional to determine the cause and get the proper treatment to prevent long-term complications.

Treatment of Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is a condition often associated with treatments for diabetes, although it can also occur under other circumstances. Here’s how it is generally treated:

1. Immediate action: If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia and you’re able to do so, check your blood sugar levels with a glucose meter. If the reading is below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L), immediately take 15 to 20 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate. This could be glucose tablets or gels, which are designed for this purpose, or other sources like fruit juice, candy, soda (not diet), or another source of sugar.

2. Recheck the blood sugar level: After 15 minutes, check your blood sugar level again. If it’s still too low, have another serving. Repeat these steps until your blood sugar level is at least 70 mg/dL.

3. Follow up with a snack: If your next meal is an hour or more away, have a snack to prevent blood sugar from dropping again. This should include protein and complex carbohydrates like a tablespoon of peanut butter or a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts.

In severe cases, when a person is unconscious or unable to consume something orally, insulin is not the treatment. Instead, a glucagon injection is administered. This is a hormone that triggers the release of sugar into the blood. This is typically done by a healthcare professional or a trained family member.

Remember, these are general guidelines. Before taking any action, it is important to consult your healthcare provider. They can provide individual recommendations based on personal health status and needs. They can also teach you and your close contacts about how to administer glucagon if necessary.

Medications commonly used for Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is often a concern for those with diabetes. Here are some medications commonly used to treat it:

1. Glucose Tablets/Gels/Juices: Any high-sugar product can be used to counter a hypoglycemic episode as it provides a quick source of glucose.

2. Glucagon: Glucagon is a hormone that raises blood sugar levels. It’s typically given as an injection or through a nasal spray if the person is unable to consume sugar. It is particularly useful in severe cases when the person is unconscious or unable to swallow.

3. Dextrose: This is another form of glucose but is often given intravenously, especially in hospitals or emergency situations.

4. Diazoxide: This is an oral medication that reduces insulin release from the pancreas, thus increasing blood sugar levels.

In addition to medication, managing hypoglycemia also requires following a proper diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Chewing on some slow-absorbing carbohydrate snacks, like a piece of fruit, may also be beneficial in preventing hypoglycaemia. It’s important to consult with your doctor or a medical professional to figure out the best treatment plan for you.

Remember, these are not the only medications available to treat hypoglycemia, and your personal treatment will depend on your specific circumstances. Always consult a healthcare provider for proper medication guidance.

Prevention of Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Preventing hypoglycaemia primarily involves careful management of one’s diet, exercise, and medication, particularly for individuals diagnosed with diabetes. Here are some steps to prevent hypoglycaemia:

1. Consistent Eating Habits: Maintain a regular schedule of meals and snacks. Do not skip meals and try to eat at the same time each day. If you are on a medication that increases insulin in the body, have each meal contain about the same amount of carbohydrates.

2. Balanced Diet: Incorporate a good mix of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into every meal. This can help ensure a steady intake of glucose into your bloodstream.

3. Exercise: Regular physical activity can affect your body’s insulin needs. If you take insulin or other type of diabetes medication, you may need to eat a snack before exercising to prevent low blood sugar.

4. Monitor Blood Sugar Level: Check your blood sugar level regularly so you can treat it before problem signs or symptoms appear. It’s a good practice to check your blood sugar anytime you feel unwell or suspect that your blood sugar is low.

5. Medication management: If you’re taking medication known to lower blood sugar levels, follow the prescribed guidelines strictly. Missing doses or taking too much medication could drop your sugar levels dangerously low.

6. Regular medical check-ups: Regularly visit your doctor to make sure your diabetes management plan is working. It will help to identify potential problems before hypoglycaemia develops.

7. Wear a medical alert bracelet: This bracelet lets people know that they should give you sugar or a similar quick-acting source of glucose if you exhibit symptoms of hypoglycaemia.


In case you experience frequent episodes of hypoglycaemia, consult your doctor. They may suggest changes in your medication, meal planning or daily activities to prevent hypoglycaemia. Please remember to follow their advice strictly.

FAQ’s about Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Here are some frequently asked questions about hypoglycaemia, also known as low blood sugar:

1. What is hypoglycaemia?
Hypoglycaemia is a condition triggered when the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood drops too low. It’s typically a side effect of diabetes treatment.

2. What are the symptoms of hypoglycaemia?
Symptoms can include shaking, sweating, rapid heartbeat, headache, hunger, weakness, fatigue, mood swings, confusion, blurred vision, and in severe cases, seizures and unconsciousness.

3. What causes hypoglycaemia?
In people with diabetes, hypoglycaemia can occur if you take too much insulin or other diabetic medications, skip a meal, exercise harder than usual, or drink alcohol.

4. How is hypoglycaemia treated?
Initial treatment involves immediate intake of fast-acting carbohydrates, such as a glass of fruit juice or non-diet soda, or glucose tablets. If the hypoglycaemia is severe and the person is unable to eat or drink, they may need an injection of glucagon or hospital treatment.

5. How can hypoglycaemia be prevented?
Hypoglycemia can often be prevented by eating regular meals, monitoring your blood sugar, adjusting your medication as advised by your healthcare provider, and by carrying a source of fast-acting carbohydrate with you.

6. Is hypoglycaemia dangerous?
If left untreated or if it occurs frequently, hypoglycaemia can be dangerous. It can lead to severe complications, including seizures, unconsciousness, or even coma.

7. Can people without diabetes get hypoglycaemia?
Yes, although it’s less common, people without diabetes can get hypoglycaemia. This is often caused by an underlying health condition or certain medications.

8. What’s reactive hypoglycaemia?
Reactive hypoglycaemia is low blood sugar that occurs a few hours after a meal. It’s more common in people who have had certain kinds of stomach or weight-loss surgery.

Always consult with a healthcare provider if you suspect you could have hypoglycaemia. They can provide a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatments tailored to your individual needs.

Useful links

Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, happens when your blood sugar (glucose) drops below normal levels. It can be caused by several factors including certain medications, not eating enough, physical or mental stress, diseases that affect the liver, kidney, or pancreas, and alcohol consumption. Symptoms can range from mild (such as hunger, sweating, and shaking) to severe (like confusion, seizures, or even loss of consciousness).

Here’s a list of useful resources and links from journals regarding hypoglycemia:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24683833/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33550443/

Kindly confirm if you have access. Do consult a healthcare professional for advice on managing hypoglycemia, as resources from journals should only serve as supplementary information.

Complications of Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can lead to a range of complications if not properly managed. These complications can be broken down into two groups: acute and long-term.

Acute complications include:

1. Neuroglycopenic symptoms: These are caused by insufficient glucose in the brain and can include confusion, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, irritability, disrupted sleep, and in severe cases, seizures or loss of consciousness.

2. Autonomic symptoms: These are caused by the release of adrenaline when blood sugar levels are low, and may include sweating, shakiness, nerviness, hunger, palpitations and anxiety.

3. Hypoglycemia unawareness: Over time, individuals may no longer experience the typical warning signs of hypoglycemia, and are at risk of dropping into critical blood sugar levels without realizing it.

Long-term complications can include:

1. Cognitive Impairment: Extended or recurrent periods of low blood sugar can negatively affect cognitive function and cause long-term brain damage.

2. Cardiovascular complications: Sudden drops in blood sugar level can cause irregular heart rhythms and other cardiac events.

3. Hypoglycemic coma: This is a severe complication of hypoglycemia which may result in a coma or death from severe and prolonged hypoglycemia.

4. Seizures: Repeated episodes of low blood sugar may cause seizures and potential long-term neurological damage.

If you have diabetes and you’re experiencing recurring hypoglycemia or severe hypoglycemic episodes, it’s important to see a healthcare provider. You may need a change in your treatment plan to prevent further episodes. Untreated hypoglycemia can be dangerous, so prompt management with nutrition and/or medication adjustments is crucial. Remember, it’s far better to act promptly than to wait until symptoms worsen.

Home remedies of Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a condition most common in people with diabetes. It can be dangerous if left untreated. Here are a few immediate and basic home remedies. These should not replace medical treatments but are potential ways to respond to lower-than-normal sugar levels:

1. Sugar Boosters: Consuming immediate sugar sources can provide relief.
Consume 15-20 grams of glucose or simple carbohydrates.
This could be 1/2 cup of fruit juice, 1/2 cup of a regular (not diet) soft drink, 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup, 2 tablespoons of raisins, 4-6 pieces of hard candy (not sugar-free), or artificially sweetened foods.
Glucose gel or tablets can also be utilized.

2. Wait 15 minutes and Check Your Blood Sugar: After eating the sugar or carbohydrate source, wait 15 minutes and then test your blood sugar again. If your glucose level is still low, repeat the previous step.

3. Protein Snack: After your blood sugar level gets back to the safe range, eat a small snack if your next meal is more than an hour or two away. This could be something that contains protein and complex carbohydrates, such as an apple with cheese or peanut butter, or a slice of whole wheat bread with turkey or a hard-boiled egg.

Prevention through maintaining a balanced diet, regular meals and snacks, adequate sleep, and regular exercise, along with continuous glucose monitoring and medication, is key for managing low blood sugar conditions.

Remember, these are immediate response techniques and should not replace consultation with and treatment from a healthcare professional. Individuals should always consult their healthcare provider for personalized advice.

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Last Update: January 10, 2024