Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Diabetes: Dealing With Low Blood Sugar From Insulin

Diabetes: Dealing With Low Blood Sugar From Insulin

Overview

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs in people with diabetes when the sugar (glucose) level in the blood drops below what the body needs to function normally.

  • If your blood sugar drops below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), you may have symptoms, such as feeling tired, weak, or shaky.
  • If your blood sugar drops very low (usually below 20 mg/dL) and you do not get help, you could become confused or drowsy or even lose consciousness and possibly die. If you are pregnant, your baby could be harmed.
  • Low blood sugar can develop if you take too much insulin, do not eat enough food or skip meals, exercise without eating enough, or drink too much alcohol (especially on an empty stomach).
  • You can usually treat mild—and sometimes moderate—low blood sugar by eating something that contains sugar.
  • You should teach your friends and coworkers what to do if your blood sugar is very low.
How to deal with low blood sugar emergencies

How to deal with low blood sugar emergencies

Here are some ways you can manage low blood sugar.

Be prepared

Always be prepared for the possibility of having a low blood sugar level.

  • Keep some quick-sugar foods with you at all times. If you are at home, you will probably already have something close at hand that contains sugar, such as table sugar or fruit juice. Carry some hard candy or glucose tablets with you when you are away from home. Quick-sugar foods are foods you need to eat to raise your blood sugar.
  • Know the symptoms of low blood sugar, such as sweating, blurred vision, and confusion. Post a list of the symptoms where you will see it often, and carry a copy in your wallet or purse. Add any symptoms you have noticed that may not be on the list. Be sure that your partner (and others) knows your early symptoms, including the signs of low blood sugar at night.
  • Wear medical identification. Always wear medical identification, such as a medical alert bracelet, to let people know that you have diabetes. In case your blood sugar drops very low and you need help, people will know that you have diabetes and will get help for you if necessary.
  • Keep glucagon on hand. If you become unconscious when your blood sugar is very low, someone may need to give you a shot of glucagon to raise your blood sugar. Be sure someone knows how to give you the shot. Have the person practice by giving you your insulin shot once or twice a month. This will help the person be confident if he or she has to give you a shot of glucagon in an emergency. Keep the instructions for how to give glucagon with the medicine. Also, check the expiration date on your glucagon. Most kits need to be replaced every 6 months.
  • Teach others (at work and at home) how to check your blood sugar in case you cannot check it yourself. Have instructions for how to use your blood sugar (glucose) meter to check your blood sugar with the meter so the person can review the instructions.
  • Teach other people (at work and at home) what to do in case your blood sugar becomes very low. Post information on emergency care for low blood sugar in a convenient place at home and at work. Go over with others the steps they need to take when your blood sugar is very low.
  • Take precautions when you are driving and do not drive if your blood sugar is below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Treat low blood sugar early

Treat low blood sugar levels as soon as you (or someone else) notice the symptoms.

  • Check your blood sugar often. If you have had diabetes for many years, you may not have symptoms until your blood sugar is very low. Checking your blood sugar regularly and also whenever you think it may be low will take the guesswork out of treating low blood sugar levels.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for dealing with low blood sugar when you first develop your symptoms of low blood sugar or when your blood sugar level is below 70 mg/dL. Encourage others to tell you if they notice you are developing signs of low blood sugar.
  • Keep a record of low blood sugar levels. Write down your symptoms and how you treated your low blood sugar. Look for patterns in when and what you ate, your activity (especially if more than usual), and medicine that could have caused the low blood sugar.
  • Notify your doctor. Let her or him know if you are having low blood sugar problems. Your insulin dosage may need to be adjusted.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details