Hypoglycemia Symptoms

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, tiredness, a rapid heartbeat and behavioral changes. In severe cases you could experience seizures, coma and death. Having a sweet snack or drink should boost your blood sugar enough to eliminate these symptoms.

Last Modified: September 5, 2023
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What Are the Symptoms of Hypoglycemia?

There are more than a dozen symptoms associated with hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, however.

The most common hypoglycemia symptoms are:
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion and clouded thinking
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Hunger
  • Seizures
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Tingling or numb skin
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness

Hypoglycemia mostly appears in people who have diabetes. The latest diabetes statistics show that 14 million Americans were diagnosed with the disease in 2019. This trend of increasing diagnoses also lays the groundwork for more cases of hypoglycemia.

However, hypoglycemia also affects people without diabetes. Regardless of your medical history, you should always take these symptoms seriously, especially if you have multiple symptoms at the same time.

Recognizing hypoglycemia as soon as possible is key to treating it successfully.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Symptoms of hypoglycemia are a warning sign of a possible medical emergency. Immediate treatment can stave off seizures or a potential coma. It can also mean the difference between life and death.

Contact your doctor if you experience symptoms of hypoglycemia, even if you get your symptoms under control. Your doctor will likely recommend that you undergo diabetes testing to determine if symptoms stem from the disease.

Doctors can also offer advice on how to avoid future hypoglycemic episodes, how to prevent diabetes and how to treat it, if necessary.

Hypoglycemia Symptoms Without Diabetes

Hypoglycemia without diabetes is rare, but it can happen. There are two types of nondiabetic hypoglycemia: reactive and fasting. Symptoms of both are identical to the symptoms of diabetic hypoglycemia.

Reactive hypoglycemia, also called postprandial hypoglycemia, happens when your body produces too much insulin following a high-carbohydrate meal. Symptoms usually begin two to four hours after eating.

This type of hypoglycemia comes on quickly and with little warning. People with pre-diabetes or a family history of diabetes or who are overweight may be more likely to experience this type of hypoglycemia.

Fasting hypoglycemia happens after going too long without food — usually eight hours or more. It is more likely to produce symptoms of hunger than reactive hypoglycemia. Fasting hypoglycemia symptoms usually worsen over time and may be difficult to notice in the early stages. Always take steps to raise your blood sugar as soon as you notice symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia Symptoms in Newborns

Newborn babies can develop symptoms of hypoglycemia. Premature infants and infants born to mothers with diabetes are more likely to experience this problem.

Doctors consider hypoglycemia in newborns an emergency requiring immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia in infants include:
  • Blue tint to the skin
  • Feeding problems
  • Shakiness
  • Shallow breathing

If your infant develops any of these symptoms, take them to the closest health care provider for emergency care. Do not treat them yourself.

Hypoglycemia Symptoms in Children

Children can develop hypoglycemia symptoms that are like those of adults. However, symptoms in children may present differently than in adults because of a child’s smaller size and limited body awareness.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia in children include:
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme hunger
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings and other behavioral changes
  • Nightmares
  • Pale skin
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating

Children experiencing hypoglycemia symptoms may not notice them right away. Kids may also lack the ability to communicate that something is wrong.

Pay close attention to children who are at risk of developing hypoglycemia symptoms. If you notice any potential warning signs, test their blood sugar immediately and intervene if necessary.

How to Manage Hypoglycemia Symptoms

There are several things you can do if you experience symptoms of hypoglycemia. Consuming food or drinks high in carbohydrates such as hard candy, fruit or juice can help boost low blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia should subside after you have had something to eat or drink. If you are still experiencing symptoms after about 15 minutes, call your doctor.

Those with diabetes who have access to a blood sugar monitor should check their blood sugar levels if they are experiencing hypoglycemia symptoms and treat the symptoms according to their doctor’s instructions.

You should also talk to your doctor if your recorded blood sugar level is higher or lower than usual after you have gotten your symptoms under control. This may be a sign of other health problems that require investigation.

If you find yourself in the position of needing a doctor, bring all your relevant health information with you, including current medications and dosage amounts, plus any recent changes to your medical history and the names and contact numbers for your other physicians.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.