Common Signs and Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia can be difficult to detect because many of the signs and symptoms are fairly benign. Because the body is unable to produce sugars or glucose on its own, a person in good physical health will experience blood sugar lows when hungry. However, the same lows can be the result from overmedicating diabetes or illnesses – such as cancer and insulin producing tumors. If left untreated, mild to moderate low blood sugar symptoms can eventually transform into a severe and life threatening condition.

Types of Low Blood Sugar

All of the functions of the body can be measured and placed ranges that indicate a level of health. Blood sugar is measured using a unit called mg/dL or milligrams per deciliter. This function can be divided into four basic categories, including:

Healthy – A healthy fasting blood sugar level falls between the ranges of 70 and 99 ml/dL.

Mild Hypoglycemia – Any blood sugar level (fasting or non fasting) below 70 and above 50 ml/dL

Moderate Hypoglycemia – Any blood sugar level (fasting or non fasting) below 50 and above 40 ml/dL

Severe Hypoglycemia – Any blood sugar level (fasting or non fasting) below 40 ml/dL

Initial Warning Signs

Unless the body is experiencing low blood sugar due to a medical condition or illness, the decrease of sugars occurs gradually. As the body falls into a mild state of hypoglycemia, it pulls on the reserves found in the liver called glycogen. Hunger is one of the first noticeable signs, because it is the bodies’ way of warning of a decrease in blood sugar. Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Rapid hearbeat
  • Sudden perspiration, cold sweats and clammy skin
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Numbness or prickling sensation of the lips and/or tips of the fingers

Increasing in Severity

If left untreated or unnoted, the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar will increase in severity. Symptoms of moderate hypoglycemia include:

  • Sudden mood changes – including irritability, agitation and anxiousness
  • Noticeable changes speech patterns and motor functions (impaired coordination, difficulty walking)
  • Lower energy, ranging from lethargy to sleepiness
  • Confusion, lack of focus and difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness

The Danger Zone

Once blood sugar levels drop to dangerous levels, the signs will indicate a dangerous and potentially fatal condition, and include:

  • Passing out or loosing consciousness
  • Onset of seizures
  • Dangerously low body temperature or hypothermia
  • Risk of stroke
  • Coma

Do you have low blood sugar? You may want to read this article on common reactive hypoglycemia treatment guidelines and protocol.

Hypoglycemia and Sleep

The body can experience signs and symptoms of low blood sugar during sleep in addition to waking hours. Nightmares, crying out, excessive sweating, and confusion, irritability or fatigue after waking up indicate an unhealthy decrease in sugar levels.

Because of the bodies’ inability to produce glucose naturally, levels can fall to unhealthy and even dangerous levels if the initial signs and symptoms are unrecognized and left untreated. Low blood sugar can only be diagnosed by a physician, but in most cases the cause can be found by performing a simple fasting blood draw and review of your medical history.


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