• Stories
  • Useful Links

Hypoglycaemia, a hypo, is when you have too little glucose in your blood (below 4.0mmol/l).  The symptoms listed below, may warn you of an impending hypoglycaemic attack.  These symptoms do not all occur at the same time.  If you are not sure, measure your blood glucose.

Mild hypoglycaemia without unconsciousness does not have severe consequences.  Hypoglycaemia should not frequently occur.  If you suffer from frequent hypoglycaemia you should contact your Diabetes Specialist Nurse for a possible adjustment of your insulin dosages.

Symptoms of Hypoglycaemia

You may feel:

  • Weak
  • Shaky
  • Dizzy

You may have:

  • Headache
  • Lack of Concentration

You may get:

  • Extreme hunger
  • Break into a sweat

You might be:

  • Pale
  • Irritable
  • Confused

Causes of Hypoglycaemia

Hypoglycaemia is caused by too much insulin in the body and therefore blood glucose levels fall below normal.  Whenever you have had a hypo always find out what the cause could have been.  Anything which lowers blood glucose may be the cause of a hypo:

  1. Taking too much insulin, e.g. accidental overdose
  2. Unplanned exercise
  3. Too little carbohydrate taken, or not taken soon enough after insulin injection
  4. Alcohol consumption
  5. Overestimated your carbohydrate portion
  6. Extremes of temperature

Treatment of Hypoglycaemia

As soon as you feel the symptom, act straight away.  Don’t make the mistake of playing down a hypo!

Always treat hypos immediately.

Whenever you suffer from hypoglycaemia you have to immediately take carbohydrates to make your blood glucose levels rise.  You need to eat or drink 10g to 20g fast acting sugary carbohydrate eg

  • 60ml to 120ml Lucozade original
  • 100ml to 200ml cola or lemonade (10g CHO per 100ml)
  • 3-6 dextrose tablets
  • 1 to 2 tubes of glucogel

It is very important that you follow this first fast acting carbohydrate with a slow acting carbohydrate (10-20g) such as: a sandwich, roll, toast, banana or your next meal if it is due.  It is always very important to measure your blood glucose levels during and after an episode of hypoglycaemia.

Please inform your diabetes team when severe night time hypos occur.  You should always carry your preferred hypo treatment with you at all times in order to be able to treat a hypo immediately.



Need More Help?

The CHOICE diabetes education programme is available in NI and the border counties of Republic of Ireland, ask your Diabetes Team

Choice Programme