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What does hypoglycemia feel like?

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Have you seen the video that went viral on Facebook in which four amazing women with type 1 diabetes talk about what it feels like to have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)?

I loved this video and thought about what hypoglycemia is like for me and wanted to put it into words in this post. I think this is especially helpful for friends and family who may not know or understand what it’s like.

If you think it helps explain what it feels like when your blood sugar levels are low, please watch the video and consider sharing this article with your loved ones.

Key Point:

  • Hypoglycemia is generally defined as a blood sugar level below 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L).
  • The experience of hypoglycemia varies greatly from person to person. Typical warning symptoms of mild hypoglycemia include weakness, sweating, hunger, fatigue, and nervousness. These symptoms must be treated promptly, usually with oral therapy.
  • Moderate or severe hypoglycemia may be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, confusion, blurred vision, or fainting, and usually requires prompt treatment with the help of another person.
  • To avoid severe hypoglycemia, work with your diabetes care team to develop a plan for hypoglycemia management, especially at night, and regular blood glucose monitoring, perhaps through the use of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It is important.

table of contents

What does hypoglycemia feel like?

Trying to explain emotions is always difficult, but trying to explain something as unique as the feeling of hypoglycemia is even more difficult.

The physical aspects of bass are easy to explain, so let’s start there.

I almost always feel the signs of hypoglycemia before it becomes critical. You feel it when your blood sugar level is around 60 mg/dL (3.3 mmol/L).

(Hypoglycemia is generally formally defined As glucose levels below 70 mg/dL. However, the level of symptoms varies from person to person. )

Mild hypoglycemic symptoms

You start to shake a little, your cognitive function declines, you feel weak, and you usually start sweating. These are some of the most common mild hypoglycemia symptoms and include:

  • Weakness
  • sweating
  • hunger
  • tired
  • dizzy
  • Lightheadedness
  • Mood swings (such as nervousness or fear)

A half cup of juice or a glucose pill will usually get you back to normal quickly and you can get on with your day. (Follow the instructions on the glucose tablet to determine your dose, and for information on treating hypoglycemia, see How to Treat Hypoglycemia ASAP.)

Moderate to severe hypoglycemic symptoms

However, if you don’t notice the symptoms before they get serious and your blood sugar levels drop, it’s a completely different story.Symptoms of moderate or severe hypoglycemia can include:

  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • nightmare
  • abnormally fast or slow heart rate
  • confusion
  • blurred vision
  • vomiting
  • Decline in cognitive function (mental ability)
  • syncope
  • seizure
  • coma or even death

Because you can detect hypoglycemia before it gets to this stage, you are unlikely to experience more severe episodes of hypoglycemia during the day, but they can occur during sleep.

nocturnal hypoglycemia

You know it’s not good if you wake up in the middle of the night and have a “stress dream” (for example, things move too fast in your dream or you’re stuck in some kind of loop) or you have a nightmare. Look, I’m sweating profusely and shaking.

And then there are emotions. It’s an urge, an almost primal desire to eat. I stand in the kitchen, soaking wet and shivering, and with all my instincts I scream, “Feed me!”

That makes sense.At this point, my Not enough glucose is supplied to the brain Instincts take over to keep me from dying because it works the way it should.

It’s very unpleasant, to say the least. And if you don’t plan, if you don’t have a strategy for what to do during a downturn, you’ll quickly empty your fridge and cabinets and eat whatever you can get your hands on.

The normal signals to stop eating are just a standby when blood sugar levels are low.

I wrote an entire article on how to deal with overnight lows, and I always try to follow that strategy. And no, this approach doesn’t always work (and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another).

If you don’t have symptoms of hypoglycemia, read the article below for more information. Unawareness of hypoglycemia.

How to avoid hypoglycemia

For some people, bass sounds may be very scary, but I have never fainted or had a seizure due to bass sounds, so bass sounds themselves are not scary. But I’m still going to do everything I can to avoid them.

In fact, I rarely get sick, and I think there are several reasons for that. Most importantly, I wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). CGM warns you before your levels drop so you can take proactive action to prevent them from dropping in the first place.

CGM alarms for low pressure are especially useful at night because they can wake you up while you’re sleeping. Otherwise, you may not notice the occurrence of a low pressure system.

I’ve also spent a lot of time manually checking my blood sugar levels frequently and figuring out how much insulin I need at different times of day, types of exercise, and types of food.

This didn’t happen overnight, but I’m happy to say that hypoglycemia is now rarer and less severe for me.

final thoughts

Hypoglycemia feels different for everyone, but I think anyone who has experienced what it feels like to have low blood sugar will agree that it is beyond unpleasant.

So, the next time your loved one asks, “How do you feel when your blood sugar levels are low?” consider showing them this article and video.

It’s impossible to fully understand if you’ve never been depressed yourself, but this should at least give you some understanding of what you’re going through.

Suggested next post: What levels of blood sugar are dangerous?

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