Low blood sugar

Originally Published: May 3, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 6, 2012
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Dear Alice,

Is there any chance that because I get low blood sugar occasionally, I may become a diabetic someday? And what can you keep with you to take when your levels do drop, and you can't get to any food or juice?

Thanks,

Shaky Sharon

Dear Shaky Sharon,

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, often happens because we go too long without eating. Some symptoms of hypoglycemia may include dizziness, mental confusion, anxiety, shakiness, and weakness. Reactive hypoglycemia is a chain of events. It refers to a state when our blood sugar is low, which causes a person to eat a concentrated sweet, and then insulin is overproduced by our pancreas and our blood sugar drops even further than where it was before. A more serious condition, Spontaneous Hypoglycemia, results in chronic low levels of blood sugar. This is a very rare condition, and medical attention is required.

In a hypoglycemic diet plan, you eat every two to three hours. Mixed meals and snacks, including carbohydrate, protein, and a little fat, are recommended. An easy snack to keep with you that fits this bill is peanut butter crackers, either prepackaged or home made. Other appropriate snacks include low-fat yogurt and low-fat trail mix. Try to avoid eating concentrated sweets, such as candy and sugary drinks, as these can cause blood sugar to drop even further. Finally, drink plenty of water. Many symptoms of in-between meal "lows" are caused by dehydration.

To determine the cause of your hypoglycemia, it best best to see your health care provider. S/he may be able to discuss your individual risk factors for diabetes. S/he may also refer you to a nutritionist, who can help design an eating plan to suit your specific needs. If you are at Columbia, you can make an appointment with Medical Services through Open Communicator or by calling x4-2284.

Alice