Type 2 Diabetes and Hypoglycaemia

What is low blood sugar?

The medical term for low blood sugar is hypoglycaemia or ‘hypos’. Hypoglycaemia occurs when blood sugar levels fall to below 3.0mmol/L or 54 mg/dL.

High blood sugar is dangerous in the long-term, however low blood sugar levels can also impact your health.

You may have experienced low blood sugar – the faint, shaky feeling you get if you have not eaten for a long time.

 


What are the signs of low blood sugar?

People with diabetes who are on medication need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. They can include:
 

  • Shakiness or feeling weak
  • Sweating, chills and clamminess
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Rapid/fast heartbeat
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Nervousness, anxiety or irritability
  • Blurred or impaired vision

What causes low blood sugar?

You can experience low blood sugar for many different reasons, including if you:

 

The causes of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

do unplanned exercise

The causes of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

have missed or delayed a meal or snack

The causes of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

take too much insulin or insulin secretagogues (insulin secretion inducers; sulfonyurea and glinides)

The causes of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

drink alcohol without food

The causes of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

experience stressful situation


Low blood sugar is more common than you think

On average, studies show that people with type 2 diabetes on insulin therapy experience 23 low blood sugar episodes (mild or moderate) every year.

The effects of low blood sugar can be different for everyone, and hypoglycaemia symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Having repeated hypoglycaemia can, over time, lead to 'hypo unawareness', where the warning symptoms of low blood sugar stop being felt, making it harder to identify and more difficult to manage.

Download the Hypoglycaemia Profiler to help recognise and track your hypos.

It's important to speak with a doctor or a nurse if you are experiencing low blood sugar.