We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Hypoglycemia?

By J. Beam
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, is a condition that occurs when the body’s blood sugar level drops too low to provide the energy the body needs. Normal blood sugar levels should range between 70 and 110. Levels below 70, which indicate hypoglycemia, can occur in patients managing diabetes or as a result of some medications, certain diseases, binge drinking and sometimes skipping meals. Except in the case of diabetes and binge drinking, this condition is usually not life threatening.

Under normal healthy conditions, the glucose required by the body for energy is derived from the food people eat, carried through the blood stream and absorbed by blood cells. Insulin is a hormone that is produced naturally in the body and aids in the distribution and absorption of glucose. Excess glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen. When the body’s glucose level begins to drop, the stored glycogen is broken down by the body and released into the blood. Hypoglycemia occurs when the body can not restore the glucose level.

Hypoglycemia in diabetic patients can occur for a number of reasons, but the most common cause is mismanagement of the disease. If the medication a diabetic is given to regulate blood sugar is taken in excessive doses, or if a meal is too small or skipped altogether, then low blood sugar may occur. A sudden increase in activity or prolonged exercise can also cause hypoglycemia in diabetic patients. Proper eating or the adjustment of medication usually resolves this condition.

In non-diabetic individuals, hypoglycemia is classified as either reactive or fasting. Reactive hypoglycemia occurs within a few hours of eating a meal. Health care providers can diagnose it with a blood test, but it is unclear what causes reactive hypoglycemia in most patients, though it may be linked to enzyme or hormone deficiencies. Most medical professionals advise exercise in conjunction with changes in diet and eating habits to manage this condition.

Fasting hypoglycemia occurs after waking or between meals. Common causes of this condition are excessive alcohol consumption, certain medications, hormonal deficiencies and underlying illnesses. To diagnose fasting hypoglycemia, a medical professional will perform a blood glucose test after 12 hours of fasting.

The correct treatment for hypoglycemia usually depends on the underlying cause. If it is the result of a drug, a healthcare provider will likely switch or stop the patient's medication. He or she will be able to determine the underlying cause of fasting hypoglycemia through blood tests and a complete medical history.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include weakness, dizziness, sweating, lightheadedness and possibly unconsciousness. Patients managing diabetes who have experienced low blood sugar should talk to their doctor about keeping a glucagon kit for emergencies, and they should also carry an emergency snack high in carbohydrates to help raise low blood sugar. People who have experienced hypoglycemia in the past should eat meals at regular intervals, avoid excessive alcohol and never drink alcohol on an empty stomach.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By obsessedwithloopy — On Dec 08, 2009

Hypoglycemia can happen not only during waking hours but also at night, while sleeping.

Some symptoms are perspiration, nightmares, or waking up tired and confused.

Do not go to bed hungry, have some food before bedtime especially if some of the symptoms are present.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.