Know Before the Low™
For people with diabetes, balancing the highs and lows of blood sugar is part of everyday life. Even with careful monitoring, low blood sugar can happen unexpectedly. That’s why it’s important to Know Before the Low.
What is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)?
Low blood sugar is when your blood sugar levels have fallen low enough that you need to take action to bring them back within a target range. This usually occurs when blood sugar levels are less than 70 mg/dL. It’s important to be prepared and talk to your diabetes care team about your own blood sugar targets and what is too low for you.
Low Blood Sugar Signs and Symptoms
It’s also possible to experience no symptoms at all, and still have low blood sugar. This is called hypoglycemia unawareness.
The only sure way to know whether you’re experiencing a low is to check your blood sugar, if possible. If you’re experiencing symptoms and are unable to check your blood sugar for any reason, treat the low blood sugar.
Managing Low Blood Sugar
Managing low blood sugar depends on the severity of the low. Mild or moderate lows can be treated with fast-acting carbohydrates such as juice, candy, or glucose tablets, while severe low blood sugar emergencies require a prescription rescue medication, such as glucagon. Here’s a helpful breakdown of the different levels of low blood sugar—and how to treat them.
The person is conscious and able to think clearly enough to self-treat by eating or drinking fast-acting carbohydrates.
The person is conscious, but may not be thinking clearly. He or she can usually self-treat with glucose tablets or by eating or drinking fast-acting carbohydrates.
Severe (Very Low)
The person is conscious or unconscious and unable to self-treat. The person will need help from someone else to recover by using a rescue treatment. This is also known as a very low blood sugar emergency.
A person can move from mild, to moderate, to severe in a matter of minutes. That's why it's important to Know Before the Low in order to prepare and talk to your support network.
Very Low Blood Sugar Emergencies
A very low blood sugar emergency is when your blood sugar drops so low that you need help from someone else to recover.
Why Know Before the Low?
During a very low blood sugar emergency, someone will need to administer a prescription rescue treatment and call 911, as symptoms will leave a person impaired or unable to treat themselves.
Since low blood sugar can happen unexpectedly, it’s crucial to be prepared and create a rescue plan for very low blood sugar emergencies – and then share your plan with your support network. Here are some steps to help prepare you and your support network for low blood sugar.
Talk to your diabetes healthcare team
Work with your diabetes healthcare team to prepare for low blood sugar and figure out a rescue plan for very low blood sugar emergencies that works for you and your support network.
The details of your low blood sugar preparedness plan will be unique to you, but one thing every emergency rescue plan should include is a prescription rescue treatment.
Empower your support network
People with diabetes rely on their support network and others during a very low blood sugar emergency so it’s important to empower them on how to help when you need it. Consider your lifestyle and routines to determine who may be able to help in the event of an emergency.
We teamed up with Crystal Bowersox, a singer-songwriter who has been living with type 1 diabetes since she was six years old.
Crystal has been singing her entire life, recording and performing around the country on tour — all while managing her diabetes. Knowing the importance of having a support network in place, she continues to advocate for people living with diabetes and inspire them to empower themselves and those around them.
“It’s important to make sure you and your support network are always prepared for the unexpected!”
— Crystal Bowersox
Know Before the Low Resources
Make the most out of your visit with your healthcare team. Use this guide to help drive the conversation around managing low blood sugar.
Use this tip list to better prepare yourself and your support network about low blood sugar and very low blood sugar emergencies.
Learn about a possible treatment option for very low blood sugar emergencies.
To read the Know Before the Low press release, Click Here.
Resources and content developed in partnership with the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE).