Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

If you have diabetes, you may very well be familiar with the types of symptoms a blood glucose reading 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or below causes. The most common symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, a fast heartbeat, anxiety, and hunger. If your blood sugar gets dangerously low, you may have symptoms like confusion, vision difficulties, behavioral changes, seizures, or even loss of consciousness.

Hypoglycemia can occur in those without diabetes as well. Fortunately, eating or drinking some simple carbohydrates can usually provide a quick fix—but to do that you need to be able to identify the symptoms of hypoglycemia.

common hypoglycemia symptoms

Verywell / Laura Porter

Frequent Symptoms

The symptoms of hypoglycemia tend to follow a pattern that you'll probably very quickly learn to recognize if you have diabetes. Common symptoms include:

  • Shakiness
  • Hunger
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Tingling feeling around your mouth
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Loss of muscle control

Severe Symptoms

When your blood sugar becomes dangerously low—less than 54 mg/dL, as defined by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), which regards this parameter as severe or "level 2" hypoglycemia— you may have any of these symptoms as well:

Nocturnal Symptoms

During the night, you may have hypoglycemic episodes and not be aware of them. This is especially common with type 1 diabetes and a bit less common with type 2 diabetes. Your body produces two hormones, glucagon and epinephrine, that help keep your blood sugar at normal levels. During sleep, glucagon production decreases. Added to this, type 1 diabetes tends to disrupt glucagon production and glucagon decreases with every episode as well.

Symptoms of nocturnal symptoms include:

  • Night sweats
  • Nightmares
  • Talking or shouting in your sleep
  • Restlessness
  • Headache
  • Not feeling well-rested when you wake up
  • A glucose level that's higher than normal in the morning

If you notice these symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider. Untreated nocturnal hypoglycemia can become dangerous, leading to life-threatening hypoglycemia, which can result in the severe symptoms listed above.

To help prevent nocturnal hypoglycemic episodes, try eating a bedtime snack that's high in complex carbohydrates such as granola, oatmeal, or dried fruit. Keep your eating plan, exercise routine, and medication consistent in the afternoon and evening as well. Also, be careful not to overdose on your insulin in the evening, which can lead to hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia Unawareness

When you have diabetes and you have repeated episodes of hypoglycemia, your brain can become less able to recognize that you're hypoglycemic because your body stops showing symptoms. This is known as hypoglycemic unawareness and it often happens at night while you're sleeping.

It's more common in type 1 diabetes than in type 2. Your blood sugar levels can become dangerously low if this continues, leading to a coma or even death.

If you have chronic episodes of hypoglycemia, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider right away so you can get it under control.


If hypoglycemia remains untreated, it can lead to any of the severe symptoms mentioned above, such as seizures, unconsciousness, and, eventually, death. This is why it's critical to treat low blood sugar immediately, no matter the cause. Hypoglycemia can also be a contributing factor in accidents such as falls, motor vehicle accidents, and injuring yourself.

Because hypoglycemia in and of itself is not a disease but an indication of another problem, similar to when you have a fever, it's extremely important that you and your healthcare provider figure out the cause of your low blood sugar, especially if you're not diabetic or you're diabetic and keep having episodes of hypoglycemia.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you're not diabetic and you have symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should see your healthcare provider right away, even if you're able to get your symptoms to subside by consuming simple carbohydrates such as 4 ounces of juice or non-diet soda, a serving of jellybeans as detailed by the package, a banana, 8 ounces of milk, 1 tablespoon of honey or corn syrup, or 2 tablespoons of raisins.

Being hypoglycemic means that something else is going on and you need to find out what that is so it can be treated before your hypoglycemia becomes life-threatening. If you're still having symptoms after treating your low blood sugar with the above measures, go to the emergency room immediately.

If you're diabetic, you will most likely deal with hypoglycemia on occasion. If your blood sugar is below 70 mg/dl, try one of the remedies detailed above or take glucose tablets as directed by the package. As long as your blood sugar goes back to normal, you can resume your regular activities. However, if you've treated your hypoglycemia and your blood sugar remains low and/or you still have symptoms, it's time to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

You should also visit with your healthcare provider right away if you have symptoms of nocturnal hypoglycemia and/or recurring episodes of hypoglycemia since these can turn into serious, potentially life-threatening, problems if they're not treated.

If you or a loved one have severe symptoms such as behavioral changes, confusion, visual changes, slurred speech, seizures, or unconsciousness, get emergency help.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes hypoglycemia unawareness?

    It’s unclear, but the longer you live with diabetes, the more likely you are to become unaware when you have symptoms of hypoglycemia. It’s possible that diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes, causes changes in the way the brain uses glucose over time, which impairs the brain’s ability to respond to signs of hypoglycemia. More research is needed, though, to understand the condition.

  • What does a hypoglycemic attack feel like?

    You may feel shaky and weak at first. Other common signs of a hypoglycemic attack include:

    • Sweating
    • Headache
    • Vision changes
    • Sudden mood changes and increased irritability 

    If symptoms aren’t treated, it can lead to confusion, seizures, or a loss of consciousness.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. American Diabetes Association. 6. Glycemic targets: Standards of medical care in diabetes-2021. Diabetes Care. 2021;44(Suppl 1):S73-S84. doi:10.2337/dc21-S006

  3. Nocturnal Hypoglycemia. Updated July 25, 2018.

  4. Martín-Timón I, Del Cañizo-Gómez FJ. Mechanisms of hypoglycemia unawareness and implications in diabetic patients. World J Diabetes. 2015;6(7):912-26. doi:10.4239/wjd.v6.i7.912

  5. Michigan Medicine. University of Michigan. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) in People Without Diabetes. Updated November 6, 2018.

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