What is hypogycaemia?
For people with diabetes that are treated with insulin, hypoglycaemia (or "hypos") is when your blood glucose level falls below 4.0 mmol/L. Remember that 4 is the floor! Some people get symptoms with hypoglycaemia:
- Change in skin tone - pale
- Glazed eyes
- Feeling faint/dizzy
- Mood change, quiet or Irritable
- Loss of consciousness
What causes hypoglycaemia?
Hypos usually occur when there is too much insulin around for what the body needs. For example:
- When you are unwell, especially with a vomiting illness
- If you have had too much insulin with food (or you don't finish your food)
- During or after exercise, as the muscles recharge their energy stores
- Drinking alcohol
How do I treat hypoglycaemia?
For a blood glucose less than 4.0 mmol/L:
- Give 5-15 grams of quick acting glucose or sucrose:
- 5 grams for children under 2 years of age
- 10 grams for children between 2 and 5 years of age
- 15 grams for those over 5 years of age
Quick acting glucose/sucrose 5 grams 10 grams 15 grams Gluco-tabs 1 (4 grams) 3 4 Dextro Energy tablets 2 3 5 Lucozade energy 60ml 110ml 170ml Orange juice 50ml 100ml 150ml Cola (not diet) 50ml 100ml 150ml Jelly babies 1 2 3
- Retest Blood Glucose after 15 minutes:
- If the blood glucose above 5.6mmol/L - no further action needed.
- If blood glucose 5.5mmol/L or below repeat above cycle until blood glucose 5.6mmol/L above.
- If you have had to repeat the treatment more than 2 times, OR your'e about to start some exercise OR it’s bedtime; a 10-15 gram carbohydrate snack is (e.g. medium slice of toast, 2 rich tea biscuits, 200ml milk).
If the hypo happens before a planned meal, treat the hypo as above, then give insulin for the meal only (i.e. no correction dose).
This guide is also available to download (see related files).