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This is Normally the First Sign of Low Blood Sugar

Learn seven signs of low blood sugar. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Blood sugar is your body's main source of energy and when it's low, you will feel it. The condition is commonly linked to diabetes and there's several causes of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia such as taking too much insulin, drinking too much alcohol, not eating for several hours and more. If left untreated hypoglycemia can lead to serious health issues like seizures, coma or death. Knowing the signs of low blood sugar is important for your overall well-being and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D., a professor of public health at New Mexico State University who shares seven signs of hypoglycemia to be aware of. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What to Know About Low Blood Sugar


Dr. Khubchandani tells us, "Our sugar levels may fluctuate throughout the day and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can happen due to a variety of reasons (e.g., medication use, alcohol over consumption, vigorous exercise, skipping meals, etc.). However, the symptoms may not follow a certain sequence. At the best, we can categorize the symptoms as early and delayed symptom constellations. Also, there can be multiple symptoms at a time that can be very non-specific."


Feeling Tired, Dizzy, Shaky, or Pale and Weak


Dr. Khubchandani explains, "Low blood sugar equates to lack of sugar supply to body cells for energy production. This would result in symptoms that make a person feel weak due to lack of energy supplies. The weakness, dizziness, and a feeling of exhaustion may follow immediately."


Feeling Very Hungry or Thirsty

woman in bed feeling thirsty reaching for water

According to Dr. Khubchandani, "Low blood sugar may trigger neurotransmitters that make a person feel hungry or thirsty. Our body sends these signals to the brain to fight energy deprivation so that we start consuming foods and drinks."


Irritable, Anxious, Nervous, Angry or Tearful

Thoughtful girl sitting on sill embracing knees looking at window, sad depressed teenager spending time alone at home, young upset pensive woman feeling lonely or frustrated thinking about problems

"The irritation, anxiousness, or mood change is due to lack of sugar supply to brain cells," Dr. Khubchandani states. "The body gets into flight or fight mode as a result of sugar deprivation and these symptoms manifest as the body senses threats. The psychiatric type symptoms may appear due to neurotransmitter activity that arises when sugar supplies are low."


Sweating, Chills, or Having Tingling Sensations

Swollen feet

Dr. Khubchandani states, "Blood sugar that is consumed by body cells is also involved in energy metabolism processes. When the brain senses low blood sugar, a variety of peripheral body activities may occur as a result of stimulation of our nervous system. Sweating and chills can be a manifestation of such nervous system activations due to low blood sugar."


Mild Symptoms to Look Out For

woman hands holding and massage her calf, suffering from calf pain

Dr. Khubchandani says, "Other moderate symptoms may manifest as inability to concentrate, confusion, lack of coordination in walking or movements, muscle twitches, and mood changes."


Inability to Walk, Talk, or See

woman feeling leg pain while running

Dr. Khubchandani tells us, "These are the more serious symptoms where the body is in deep exhaustion due to lack of sugar supply that is responsible for energy balance and production. The exhaustion may limit our daily functions due to energy gaps and other nervous system actions."


Coma, Strokes, Seizures, or Death

man hold his had and suffering from headache, pain, migraine

Dr. Khubchandani says, "Possibly the most serious symptoms of the spectrum of symptoms, these are a result of dramatic, profound, and sustained low blood sugar. Prompt action and treatment is needed. First thing, get to a source of energy (juice, soda, water with sugar, etc.). Call 911 if needed as there could be a serious underlying medical disorder that may go undiagnosed if help is not sought (even if you recover from the episode of hypoglycemia)."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather