two people happily embracing

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Thanks for joining me for Severe Low Blood Sugar Basics.

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Life is a journey and so much of it happens

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while we are busy making other plans.

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And as much as we would like, we can’t plan for everything.

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Sometimes, even when people with diabetes are taking steps

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to prevent severe low blood sugar

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life can still get in the way.

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A1C is a blood test

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that measures average blood sugar over the past 3 months.

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Because A1C doesn’t look at how your blood sugar levels vary from hour to hour,

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or from day to day, you may still be at risk

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for severe low blood sugar, regardless of your A1C level.

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Now, let’s talk about

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some of the causes of severe low blood sugar.

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In one study, people with diabetes who take insulin reported

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a range of everyday circumstances that

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can lead to low blood sugar emergencies.

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These include not eating enough food,

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unexpected or unusual physical activity,

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taking the wrong amount of insulin,

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situations that cause stress,

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changing blood sugar levels,

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and not noticing signs or symptoms of low blood sugar.

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A severe low blood sugar emergency could happen anytime, and anywhere.

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So, people with diabetes should be prepared with an emergency plan,

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just in case.

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Things to remember.

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One, you may be at risk for severe low blood sugar, regardless of your A1C level.

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Two, a range of everyday circumstances can lead to low blood sugar emergencies.

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Three, be prepared with an emergency plan

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just in case.

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Thank you for joining us for Severe Low Blood Sugar Basics.

Who Are Caregivers?

Caregivers are the people you are around most often or a member of your care team and can help you if you have a severe low blood sugar event. For example, caregivers may be your loved ones, children, or other family members

What if I live alone, or if my family lives far away?

If you live alone or your family is not nearby, your caregivers could be:

Icon of a house, icon of two professionals, icon of hands shaking to make a heart

To figure out who might help you in an emergency, think about the places you usually go and the people you see often.

Organizations in your community may also help you find caregivers. 

What Do My Caregivers Need to Know?

Caregivers need to know these 3 things:

All of these items should be included in your emergency plan and shared with your caregivers!

Print out this emergency plan, fill it out, and give copies to your caregivers so they are prepared.

How Do I Ask Someone to Be a Caregiver for Me?

Discussing diabetes and severe low blood sugar doesn’t need to be hard.

The questions below may help you begin talking about caregiving with people close to you.

  • Are you willing to help me if my blood sugar drops too low?
  • Can I explain the common signs and symptoms you may see me have when my blood sugar is low?
  • Can I show you how to help me during a severe low blood sugar event?

Review Your Knowledge

Answer two questions to test your knowledge now



Scenario 1: Jane is a young mother who had to pick up her daughter from school unexpectedly, so she missed her lunch. She is starting to feel shaky and weak, but she finds some hard candy in her purse. After eating it, she feels better.

Is Jane experiencing non-severe low blood sugar or severe low blood sugar?


Well Done!

Jane is experiencing non-severe low blood sugar. Fortunately, Jane noticed that her blood sugar was dropping. She was able to bring her blood sugar back up by finding and eating some hard candy.


Scenario 2: Michael is 70 years old and accidentally injected a higher dose of insulin than normal. He goes to watch some television, not realizing the dosing error. A little while later, he is feeling dizzy and confused, but he can't get off the couch to drink some juice.

Is Michael experiencing non-severe low blood sugar or severe low blood sugar?

Learn More About Severe Low Blood Sugar Below

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  1. O’Reilly JE, et al. Diabetologia. 2021;64(1):S1-S380. 
  2. EASD 2021 (European Association for the Study of Diabetes), September 27-October 1, 2021; Virtual; Day #2 Highlights.
  3. Kedia N. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2011;4:337-346.
  4. Lammert M, et al. J Med Econ. 2009;12(4):269-280.
  5. American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2021;44(1):S73-S84.
  6. Lipska KJ, et al. Diabetes Care. 2013;36(11):3535-3542.
  7. Frier BM. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2014;10(12):711-722.
  8. Kovatchev B, et al. Diabetes Care. 2016;39:502-510.
  9. American Diabetes Association. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Accessed November 1, 2021.
  10. Cox DJ, et al. Diabetes Spectr. 2006;19(1):43-49