Hypoglycemia happens when your blood sugar levels become abnormally low. This can lead to multiple health complications for people with diabetes. Be smart about hypoglycemia to avoid this potentially serious condition.

  • Be aware of the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Anxiety, heart palpitations and shakiness are common symptoms. You might also become sweaty and pale. Your brain suffers causing feelings of fatigue, disorientation, weakness and headache along with blurry vision and extreme hunger. Causes of hypoglycemia can include skipping meals, too much exercise or taking too much insulin. Eat meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid hypoglycemia. Discuss insulin dosages with your diabetes health care team and make necessary adjustments for traveling or time changes. Report extreme blood sugar lows to your doctor. Test your blood sugar regularly and keep a record of the results to share during regular medical appointments.
  • Steer clear of sugary snacks and processed foods that may wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels. Avoid fried foods, soft drinks and processed meats such as hot dogs. Eat the right foods to maintain a healthy weight and keep blood sugar in check. Lean meat, fish and poultry give your body essential protein. Nibble on fresh fruits such as raspberries, blueberries and peaches [within your meal plan] with a meal or an hour before. Feast on fresh vegetables, especially dark green leafy ones. Unsalted nuts and seeds are a great snack in moderation. Grab a small handful as they are high in calories. Opt for low-fat dairy choices. Choose whole grains instead such as brown rice, bulgur, whole wheat pasta and quinoa. Whole grains slow your digestion so your blood sugar rises gradually. Keep a food journal to ensure you are making the right choices and amounts.
  • Reduce the stress in your life to minimize cravings for foods you should not have. Take deep breaths for five minutes until your cravings disappear. Have a glass of water. Often you are really feeling thirsty rather than hungry. Get support from your friends, family and diabetes health care team. Throw away tempting foods lurking in your environment at home and work. Substitute bad habits with good ones. For example, sip sparkling water with lemon rather than drinking soda.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Go for a walk and get fresh air. Try relaxing exercises such as yoga or Tai chi Pay attention to your body and how it reacts to different levels of intensity to avoid hypoglycemia during exercise. Talk to your doctor about how to treat yourself if your blood sugar levels get low while exercising. Check your blood glucose level before exercising. If you are in the normal range, have a small snack before your workout. If you feel symptoms of hypoglycemia during your exercise routine, stop to test your blood glucose level and treat yourself accordingly. When you are done exercising, check your blood sugar again. Use snacks and insulin to adjust your blood sugar after exercising. If you are prone to hypoglycemia test your blood sugar before driving. Always carry a snack with you when driving. If your blood sugar plummets, consider taking 1 to 2 glucose tablets to raise it quickly without over treating.
  • Minimize or eliminate your alcohol intake. When you liver processes alcohol, it stops producing glucose. It can take your body about an hour to break down one ounce of alcohol. The glucose-lowering effect can last eight to twelve hours after consuming an alcoholic beverage. Never drink on an empty stomach. Eat a meal first and avoid high sugar sodas and juices. Keep crackers on hand to nibble on during the next few hours. Women should not drink more than one alcoholic beverage per day or two drinks a day for men under 65. One drink equals a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass or wine or 1½ ounces of liquor. Sip your drinks slowly. After drinking alcohol, use a glucose monitor to check your blood sugar levels.

Being smart about hypoglycemia can ward off the negative effects of low blood sugar levels. Choosing healthy foods and beverages, reducing stress and exercising can help keep your blood glucose levels in check. Talk to your doctor and know how deal with lowered blood sugar levels to avoid hypoglycemia.