Signs and symptoms of low glucose levels

Four people living with diabetes tells Barbara Chinyerere what they experience during hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels).

What brings blood glucose levels down?

Before I go to what a person living with diabetes feels when they have low blood glucose levels. Let me just indicate what brings their blood glucose levels down.

  • As their day goes by with workload, losing track of time could result in not eating their in-between snack. A simple thing as not snacking could just dip blood glucose levels.
  • A little more insulin which does not balance with the meal eaten could decrease blood glucose levels.
  • Exercise decrease blood glucose levels.
  • A state of shock brings blood glucose levels down.

Different people experience different symptoms

This is not a one size fit all situation. Different people feel different symptoms. Some can see them coming and can feel their lows. Others could be too young to recognise the feelings, but with time they will get to know them. Note: hunger is not one of the signs mentioned with any of the people interviewed.

One-on-one conversations to get a clear view

An 8-year-old, who has had diabetes for four years, is not able to tell when he has low blood glucose levels. Though the warning signs are very visible to the mother. She explainis, “From a very chatty, energetic busybody, he gets sleepy, which does not happen when he has normal glucose levels. Especially, during the day, he becomes quiet and next thing he is fast asleep.

On a bad day, he gets disorientated and doesn’t know whether its day or night. On checking his levels, he had a dip of 2.4mmol/L. Once he passed out and could only be woken up with glycogen. On this occasion, he had been exercising the whole afternoon and passed out into his PT teacher’s arms.

A 48-year-old male said the minute he gets dizzy, it’s a sign for him to go eat something. This happens any time of the day, especially when he has missed a meal. Eating meals and snacks is his priority.

A 60-year-old female, who’s been diabetic for 22 years, gets extremely sweaty, starts to shake and yawns. Her first low, she experienced blurry vision and had tremors in her hands.

A 58-year-old nurse said she never experienced lows anymore. She has mastered eating regular meals and snacks.

Keeping regular meals, and snacks could limit the chances of hypoglycemia, so snack on.


Barbara Chinyerere

Barbara Chinyere is a mother of two sons. Her youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 3. She says it has been a roller coaster ride but she finds courage because of her son’s strength.