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Sanofi Canada

2905 Place Louis-R.-Renaud
Laval, Quebec, H7V 0A3

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Content :

Managing Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia occurs when blood glucose drops below 4 mmol/L for people being treated with medicine that can increase the insulin produced by the pancreas or for people who are taking insulin.


Hypoglycemia can be caused by:

  • Doing more physical activity than usual
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Fasting and taking full doses of medication for diabetes
  • Eating too little food
  • Missing or delaying meals
  • Taking too much medication
  • Alcohol intake

There are different stages of hypoglycemia: mild, moderate and severe.

Mild and moderate hypoglycemia can cause the following symptoms:

  • Trembling
  • Palpitations (fast heartbeat)
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Tingling
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Vision changes
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Sometime you may have a low blood glucose level when you are sleeping, the symptoms of low blood sugar during sleep can be different and include:

  • Restless sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Night sweats
  • Awakening from sleep
  • Waking with a headache

What to do if you think you are having a low blood sugar reaction:

  • Check your blood glucose - if you are unable to check your blood sugar and you think you are having a low blood sugar you should treat your symptoms

If your blood glucose is less than 4 mmol/L, eat a rapid-acting carbohydrate:

  • 15 g of glucose in the form of glucose tablets
  • 15 mL (3 teaspoons) of table sugar dissolved in water
  • 175 mL (3/4 cup) of juice or a regular (not diet) soft drink
  • 6 Life Savers candy
  • 15 mL (1 tablespoon) of honey

Retest in 15 minutes.

If your blood glucose level is still under 4 mmol/L, repeat.

Once your blood glucose level is over 4 mmol/L, you need to eat something within the hour. If you have a meal coming up then you don't need to worry. However, if you won't be eating a meal within an hour, eat a snack containing carbohydrate and protein to tide you over until your meal.

Sample carbohydrates:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ cup of cereal
  • 7 crackers

Sample protein:

  • 1 oz. of cheese (1 inch cubed)
  • ¼ cup of nuts
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter

Severe hypoglycemia is when your blood glucose falls below 2.8 mmol/L. If you experience severe hypoglycemia, you may need the help of another person to treat it, and you could become unconscious.

If you have severe hypoglycemia (blood glucose less than 2.8 mmol/L), you must take 20 g of glucose in the form of glucose tablets right away. It is important that your family and friends know how to treat a low blood glucose level if you become unconscious. In some cases, an injection of glucagon may be necessary.