Type 2 Diabetes 101: Low Blood Sugar: What to do?

By: Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP

From the educational material on diabetes, Kaiser Permanente (Learning to live well)) summarizes symptoms of low and high blood sugar and what to do at home.

Before going into the symptoms of low or high blood sugar, one must understand the range that your doctor wants you to achieve. If you take pills to control your diabetes, the table below is a good reference of the goal range:

About Two Times Per Day

Goal Range

Before meals

80 to 120 mg/dl

Two hours after a meal

Below 160 mg/dl

Before bedtime

100 to 140 mg/dl

Hypoglycemia= low blood sugar (Blood sugar below 70 mg/dl)

People who take certain oral medications or insulin to control their blood sugar are more likely to have a low blood sugar reaction.




·         A missed or delayed meal

·         An increase in activity, work or exercises

·         Too much diabetes medication

·         Drinking alcohol

Signs and symptoms

·         Shaking

·         A fast heartbeat

·         Sweating

·         Feeling anxious

·         Dizziness

·         Hunger

·         Blurry vision

·         Weakness or fatigue

·         Headache

·         Irritability

Low blood Sugar: what to do

If your blood sugar is 60 to 70 mg/dl with mild symptoms:

  • Drink one 8 ounce glass of nonfat milk, or
  • Eat several crackers with cheese, or
  • Eat a piece of fruit
  • Glyset (miglitol) is a medication that alters the way your body absorbs carbohydrates. If you are taking this medication, hypoglycemia can only be treated with Glucose tablets or on 8-ounce glass of milk.

If your blood sugar is less than 60 mg/dl or if you have severe hypoglycemia symptoms:

  • Ask for help if possible
  • Drink 4 ounce glass of orange juice, or
  • Chew and swallow 3 to 4 glucose tablets, or
  • Swallow one tube of glucose gel, or
  • Drink four ounces of regular soda, or
  • Chew and swallow 5 to 6 Life Save candies.

Wait 15 minutes and retest blood sugar.

If your blood sugar is still below 70 mg/dl, take another treatment listed above and test again in 15 minutes.

If your blood sugar is 70mg/dl or more, eat a meal or snack to prevent further low blood sugar.

Next week, we will discuss high blood sugar and management.

The Care Ministry wants to emphasize that this article is not meant to be your medical advice. Any of your health related questions should be directed to your own physician.

Your homework from the Care Ministry this week: review the signs and symptoms of excessive high or low sugar.

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