People with diabetes taking insulin are at risk for very low blood sugar

The focus of diabetes management is to lower your blood sugar levels with insulin. However, there is a risk of blood sugar dropping too low.

Low blood sugar (lower than 70 mg/dL) is called hypoglycemia. If hypoglycemia is mild or moderate, it can be treated with fast-acting carbohydrates like hard candies and juice.

Low blood sugar is considered severe (a blood sugar emergency) if you are too weak or confused to eat or drink anything and need another person to help you recover. If blood sugar drops too low, you may lose consciousness and could choke on food or liquids.

Low blood sugar can often be unpredictable

While many risk factors for low blood sugar relate to specific actions, some factors may be out of your control.

Situations that may increase the risk of low blood sugar include:

  • Delaying mealtimes or fasting
  • Taking too much insulin
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Exercising intensely
  • Sleeping, especially overnight
  • Stressful events (such as illness, trauma, or surgery) that impact glycemic control
  • Early childhood or older age

Low blood sugar can feel different for different people

Every person has different symptoms when their blood sugar drops. It’s important to know which ones you feel when your blood sugar is very low, so you and the people around you know what symptoms of very low blood sugar to look out for. 

Early symptoms of low blood sugar may include:

  • Sweating
  • Drowsiness (feeling tired)
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irregular heartbeat (palpitation)
  • Anxiety
  • Tremor (feeling shaky)
  • Blurred vision
  • Hunger
  • Slurred speech
  • Restlessness
  • Depressed mood
  • Tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or tongue
  • Irritability
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Lightheadedness
  • Unsteady movement
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Personality changes
  • Headache

If not treated early, the symptoms of low blood sugar may worsen. Signs and consequences of very low blood sugar include:  

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death

Be ready when blood sugar drops without warning or symptoms

For some people living with diabetes, their blood sugar can drop dangerously low without feeling any symptoms. This is called hypoglycemia unawareness

If you experience very low blood sugar often, then you may develop hypoglycemia unawareness. Hypoglycemia unawareness can make it difficult to be ready for an unexpected drop in blood sugar.

It’s important that you and the people around you know what to do if very low blood sugar occurs. They may be able to help if your blood sugar drops too low without you noticing.

Up to


of people living with type 1 diabetes may experience hypoglycemia unawareness

If you wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), you may still be at risk for very low blood sugar

When your blood sugar drops, rescue treatment can help you recover. Learn how you and those around you can be prepared for the unexpected