Understanding hypoglycaemia and how to prevent it
The management of diabetes involves constantly trying to keep blood glucose within normal levels (4mmol/l – 7.8mmol/l).2,3 Hypoglycaemia, sometimes called low blood sugar or a hypo, is a blood glucose level below the normal range (below 4mmol/l).
Hypos can occur in people living with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes who take insulin or other types of glucose-lowering medications as a result of an imbalance between food, exercise and medication.1,2
Don't ignore the signs of low blood sugar.
The first step is to educate yourself on how to read the signs of hypoglycaemia, to help you prevent, recognise and treat hypos.4
Symptoms may include shaking, sweating, lightheadedness or a change in mood.2 Even mild symptoms can be a cause for concern; however, many hypos can be prevented.2,4
To help prevent hypoglycaemia when taking insulin:5
- Don't skip or delay meals or snacks
- Monitor your blood sugar
- Take your medication as recommended by your doctor
- Adjust your medication or eat additional snacks if you increase your physical activity
Many people try to cope with hypo symptoms themselves rather than talking to their doctor, which can cause difficulties in managing blood sugar control.6 If you get the right information and support, you will feel more confident to manage your risk of hypos.4
Many people taking insulin or certain tablets will have periods of low blood sugars through no fault of their own.2 If you experience any symptoms of hypoglycaemia in the future, speak to your healthcare professional about insulin treatments that can reduce your risk of low blood sugar episodes.7
- Shaw, J. et al. Canberra: Diabetes Australia.
- Diabetes Australia. Hypoglycaemia. Available at: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/hypoglycaemia Accessed: April 2019.
- Diabetes Queensland. What’s the right range of BGLs. Available at: https://www.diabetesqld.org.au/media-centre/2015/november/right-range-of-bgls.aspx Accessed: April 2019
- National Diabetes Services Scheme. Fear of hypoglycaemia factsheet. Available at: https://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/613ab86f-bca9-4a9e-a702-fe4c018ae727.pdf Accessed: April 2019.
- Mayo Clinic. Diabetic hypoglycaemia. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-hypoglycemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20371525 Accessed: April 2019
- Khunti, K. et al. Diab Res and Clin Prac. 2017; 130:121-129.
Diabetes Australia. The Low Down – About Hypos. Available at: https://thelowdown.org.au/about-hypos/ Accessed: April 2019.