10 Key Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar in Adults Revealed

Angela Breslin, RN
December 23, 2023
min read


Do you know what low blood sugar feels like and how it can affect your daily life routine? If you're regularly experiencing trembles, a rapid heartbeat, sweating, or even anxiety and confusion for no apparent reason, you might be overlooking a critical health issue—low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. Understanding these low blood sugar symptoms in adults can be life-saving, particularly for those with diabetes.

Hypoglycemia, though common among people with diabetes, can be a nuisance that affects your mood, energy levels, and overall quality of life. But fear not, as a leading provider of medical equipment, we at ProMed DME understand the importance of recognizing these signs and offer this guide to better equip you with knowledge and let you manage your health in an effective manner.

To give you a swift understanding of what to look for, here is a structured information snippet that addresses the search intent:

  • Shakiness: Uncontrolled trembling or shaking is often one of the first signs of low blood sugar.
  • Fast heartbeat: You may feel your heart pounding or racing.
  • Sweating: More perspiration than usual, even when you're not being physically active.
  • Nervousness or anxiety: You may feel a sense of unease or jitteriness.
  • Hunger: Irregular or increased hunger pangs may be a sign.
  • Irritability or confusion: You may feel unusual mood swings or a sense of confusion.
  • Dizziness: An unsteady feeling, lightheadedness or even fainting can occur.
  • Weakness and Fatigue: Feeling overly tired or weak, often inexplicably.
  • Changes in Vision: Your vision may become blurry or impaired.
  • Seizures: In extreme cases, low blood sugar can lead to seizures.

Continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels is vital in managing these symptoms. Technologies like Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) are beneficial in tracking fluctuations in blood sugar, thus helping prevent hypoglycemia.

To illustrate this, consider the following infographic:

Infographic showing a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) and how it measures blood glucose levels throughout the day. It consists of a sensor that estimates the glucose level in the fluid between cells, a transmitter that sends this information to a software program on a device, and how it helps manage diabetes by identifying low blood sugar levels. - low blood sugar symptoms in adults infographic infographic-line-3-steps

Understanding these symptoms is the first significant step to manage and mitigate the impacts of low blood sugar. In the upcoming sections, we will unravel these symptoms in more detail to help you recognize and address the repercussions of hypoglycemia effectively.

Symptom 1: Shakiness

One of the most common low blood sugar symptoms in adults is shakiness. It's a kind of tremor that you'll feel in your hands, legs, or even throughout your whole body. It can be an unsettling experience, especially if you're not sure what's causing it.

How Low Blood Sugar Causes Shakiness

The reason behind the shakiness is largely due to how our body responds to low glucose levels. When your blood sugar dips below the normal range, your body perceives it as a threat to its normal functioning. In response, it triggers the release of adrenaline, a hormone that prepares your body for "fight or flight." This surge of adrenaline causes various physical reactions, including shakiness.

It's your body's way of signaling that it needs an immediate intake of glucose to restore the balance. It's worth noting that while shakiness is a common symptom, it may not occur in everyone with low blood sugar. Some people, especially those with diabetes, may experience hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition where the usual warning signs of low blood sugar aren't apparent.

At ProMed DME, we understand the importance of recognizing these symptoms and managing them effectively. And shakiness is just the first on our list. We'll explore more symptoms of low blood sugar, helping you take control of your health better.

Symptom 2: Fast Heartbeat

Pulse - low blood sugar symptoms in adults

When your blood sugar drops too low, your body may respond by speeding up your heart rate. This is one of the more common low blood sugar symptoms in adults and can be quite alarming. You might feel like your heart is pounding in your chest or racing at an unusually high speed. This sensation is also known as tachycardia.

How Low Blood Sugar Causes a Fast Heartbeat

Your body relies on glucose as a primary source of energy. When your blood sugar levels fall, your body sees it as a state of emergency. To compensate for the lack of glucose, your body releases adrenaline, also known as the "fight or flight" hormone. This adrenaline rush stimulates your heart to beat faster and pump more blood, attempting to deliver whatever glucose is left to your cells.

A fast heartbeat isn't exclusive to low blood sugar. It can also be a symptom of other medical conditions like anxiety or heart disease. However, if you're experiencing a fast heartbeat along with other symptoms like sweating, shakiness, or confusion, it could indicate hypoglycemia.

At ProMed DME, we recommend that you check your blood glucose levels whenever you experience symptoms like a fast heartbeat. If you find managing your blood sugar challenging, remember we offer advanced solutions like Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) devices, to make the process simpler and more accurate.

Symptom 3: Sweating

Excessive sweating can be one of the early warning signs of low blood sugar in adults. It is often one of the first noticeable symptoms, and it can occur suddenly, even when you're not engaged in strenuous physical activity or in a hot environment.

Description of How Low Blood Sugar Causes Sweating

Low blood sugar can cause sweating in both cool and warm conditions. The sweat is often cold and clammy, and you might find yourself drenched even when you're not doing anything physically exerting. This is because hypoglycemia triggers a fight-or-flight response in your body. Your body perceives the low blood sugar as a threat and releases adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) to combat it.

Explanation of Why This Symptom Occurs

The adrenaline release is your body's emergency response to the low blood sugar levels. As a hormone, adrenaline prepares your body to either fight or flee from danger. One of its effects is to stimulate the sweat glands, leading to sudden sweating. This reaction is part of your body's natural defense mechanism against hypoglycemia.

Knowing this, it's crucial to pay attention to sudden, unexplained sweating as it may be a sign of low blood sugar. If you're experiencing these symptoms, we recommend checking your blood glucose levels using a reliable device like the Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) we offer at ProMed DME.

Timely management of your blood sugar levels is key to preventing severe hypoglycemia and related complications. And if you need assistance with managing your diabetes, don't hesitate to contact us. Our team is ready to provide the support and resources you need.

Symptom 4: Nervousness or Anxiety

Experiencing nervousness or anxiety is one of the common low blood sugar symptoms in adults. You might feel on edge, restless, or even have a sense of impending doom. This can be a confusing symptom as it's often associated with other conditions such as general anxiety disorder or panic attacks. However, recognize that sudden anxiety or nervousness, especially when accompanied by other symptoms, can be a sign of low blood sugar.

The reason for this symptom lies in how our body responds to falling blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar drops, your body perceives it as a state of emergency. As a response, it releases adrenaline, also known as the "fight-or-flight" hormone. This adrenaline surge is what triggers the feelings of anxiety and nervousness.

It's important to keep in mind that these symptoms can pose a significant challenge if you have hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition where you don’t have typical low blood sugar symptoms. If you have been living with diabetes for several years, frequently have low blood sugar, or take certain medicines like beta-blockers, you may be more prone to hypoglycemia unawareness. Regular blood sugar monitoring and understanding your own symptoms becomes crucial in this case.

At ProMed DME, we provide devices like Continuous Glucose Monitors that can alert you when your blood sugar levels are dropping too low. This can help you prevent severe low blood sugar episodes and manage your diabetes more effectively.

Symptom 5: Hunger

A common symptom among adults experiencing low blood sugar is an increase in hunger. This sudden, intense desire to eat, even if you've recently consumed food, can be disconcerting and disruptive.

How Low Blood Sugar Triggers Hunger

When your blood sugar levels drop, your body reacts by craving sources of rapid energy, primarily in the form of carbohydrates. This is the body's survival instinct kicking in, trying to raise the blood sugar level to a safe range. Therefore, if you find yourself suddenly ravenous without a clear reason, it could be an indication that your blood sugar is too low.

Why It Happens

This hunger symptom is due to your body's response to hypoglycemia. The brain uses glucose as its main source of energy. So, when blood glucose levels fall, it triggers a cascade of signals that result in the feeling of hunger. Essentially, your brain is telling your body to find more glucose to restore the balance.

While the instinct may be to eat anything in sight, it's best to consume fast-acting carbohydrates like fruit juice or regular soda, as suggested in our blood sugar management guide. This will quickly raise your blood sugar levels and alleviate the symptom.

At ProMed DME, we understand the importance of managing low blood sugar symptoms in adults. We provide resources and products that can help you monitor your blood glucose levels and manage your symptoms effectively. Always remember, recognizing and understanding your symptoms is the first step to effective diabetes management.

Symptom 6: Irritability or Confusion

One of the low blood sugar symptoms in adults is irritability or confusion. This means that a person might feel unusually upset, frustrated, or restless. They may also experience difficulty in thinking clearly, making sound decisions, or even remembering things. This symptom can be quite unsettling as it affects a person's mental and emotional state, potentially hindering them from performing their normal daily activities effectively.

Irritability or confusion occurs when the brain, an organ that heavily relies on glucose for energy, is deprived of its fuel. Blood sugar levels below 70 mg/dL are considered low and can affect your brain's normal functioning. The brain's cells, known as neurons, can't store glucose and are dependent on the bloodstream to deliver a constant supply. When the blood glucose levels drop, the brain doesn't receive enough energy to function properly, leading to cognitive symptoms like irritability and confusion.

This is a serious symptom and should not be overlooked. It's crucial to check your blood sugar levels if you experience such signs. At ProMed DME, we provide continuous glucose monitoring solutions that can help you keep track of your glucose levels in real time, ensuring that you can take immediate action whenever your blood sugar levels drop. Early recognition and treatment of low blood sugar symptoms in adults can prevent severe complications.

Symptom 7: Dizziness

Dizziness is another common symptom that can indicate low blood sugar. It can feel like a spinning sensation or a loss of balance, making it hard to stand or walk. This feeling of unsteadiness or lightheadedness can come on suddenly and may be accompanied by confusion or disorientation. It's crucial to take these symptoms seriously, as dizziness can increase the risk of falls or accidents.

The Connection Between Low Blood Sugar and Dizziness

The reason dizziness is a common symptom of hypoglycemia is due to the body's response to low glucose levels. Our brain requires a constant supply of glucose to function properly. When blood sugar levels dip below the normal range, the brain doesn't get the energy it needs to perform its functions, leading to various symptoms, including dizziness.

Moreover, the body releases adrenaline and other hormones in response to low blood sugar, which can also contribute to feelings of dizziness. These hormones work to raise blood sugar levels but can also cause other symptoms like a rapid heartbeat and nervousness.

At ProMed DME, we understand the challenges of managing blood sugar levels and the impact of hypoglycemia on your daily life. We believe that understanding your body's signs and symptoms is a crucial step in managing your health. If you're experiencing frequent episodes of dizziness, it's crucial to speak with your healthcare provider and consider regular blood glucose monitoring to identify and manage low blood sugar symptoms in adults effectively. With the right tools and knowledge, you can maintain control over your blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia-related complications.

Symptom 8: Fatigue

Feeling constantly tired or worn out can be a sign of many health conditions, including low blood sugar. When your blood sugar levels drop below 70 mg/dL, your body doesn't have enough fuel to function properly, which can lead to persistent fatigue. This can often be misinterpreted as a sign of aging or stress, but if you're experiencing this symptom alongside others on this list, it might be one of the low blood sugar symptoms in adults to watch out for.

How Low Blood Sugar Can Cause Fatigue

When your body's cells aren't getting the glucose they need for energy due to low blood sugar, one of the first responses is a feeling of fatigue or tiredness. This is your body's way of signaling that it's running low on fuel. It's trying to conserve energy by making you feel tired, encouraging you to rest or eat to replenish your body's glucose stores.

Why This Symptom Occurs

Fatigue from low blood sugar occurs because your body is trying to protect itself. Rather than allowing you to continue using energy it doesn't have, it triggers feelings of tiredness to encourage you to rest or consume food to raise your blood sugar levels. However, this protective mechanism can interfere with your daily activities and overall quality of life.

At ProMed DME, we understand the challenges that come with managing conditions like diabetes that can cause low blood sugar. We're committed to providing solutions, such as Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs), to help you stay on top of your blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia. By regularly monitoring your blood sugar levels, you can identify patterns, make informed decisions about your diet and lifestyle, and ultimately prevent low blood sugar symptoms like fatigue.

Symptom 9: Changes in Vision

One of the surprising low blood sugar symptoms in adults is changes in vision. This can manifest as blurry vision, difficulty focusing, or even temporary blindness.

How Low Blood Sugar Can Cause Changes in Vision

When your blood sugar drops too low, it can affect various parts of your body, including your eyes. The eye is a highly sensitive organ that depends on a steady supply of glucose to function properly. Low blood sugar can interfere with the normal function of your eyes and lead to vision changes.

Why Does This Symptom Occur?

The exact process of how low blood sugar affects your vision is complex, but it essentially comes down to the way your body utilizes glucose. Our eyes, especially the retina which is responsible for our vision, rely heavily on glucose for energy. When your body's glucose drops drastically, it can affect the function of the retina, leading to changes in vision.

Once your blood sugar level is restored to normal, vision usually returns to its previous state. But this symptom shouldn't be ignored. Regular vision changes can be a sign that your blood sugar is frequently dropping too low, indicating a need for adjustments in your diabetes management plan.

At ProMed DME, we understand the importance of maintaining stable blood sugar levels. That's why we offer a range of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) to help you keep your blood sugar in check and prevent symptoms like vision changes.

Symptom 10: Seizures

When discussing low blood sugar symptoms in adults, one of the most severe and frightening is undoubtedly seizures.

How Low Blood Sugar Can Cause Seizures

Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can lead to seizures when blood glucose levels fall dangerously low. In this situation, the brain does not receive enough glucose, the primary source of its energy. As a result, normal brain function is disrupted, leading to convulsions or seizures, which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Seizures are not a common symptom and typically only occur when blood sugar levels drop significantly below the normal range, specifically below 54 mg/dL. Not everyone with low blood sugar will experience seizures. This symptom is usually seen in severe cases of hypoglycemia or in individuals who have had diabetes for many years and frequently experience low blood sugar.

Why This Symptom Occurs

The brain needs a constant supply of glucose to function correctly. When blood sugar levels drop too low, the brain can't function properly, leading to confusion, loss of consciousness, and in severe cases, seizures.

Seizures related to low blood sugar are a signal that the body is in a state of emergency. It's the brain's way of sounding an alarm that it's not getting the fuel it needs to carry out its functions. If left untreated, a seizure can result in loss of consciousness or even coma.

At ProMed DME, we cannot overstate the importance of regular blood sugar monitoring to prevent severe hypoglycemia and related complications such as seizures. Our range of continuous glucose monitors can alert you when your blood sugar levels are dropping too low, giving you the chance to take appropriate action.

Recognizing the symptoms of low blood sugar, including seizures, is crucial for those living with diabetes. With the right tools and knowledge, you can manage your blood sugar levels effectively and reduce the risk of severe hypoglycemia.

Understanding Hypoglycemia Unawareness

One of the major challenges some adults face in identifying low blood sugar symptoms is a condition known as hypoglycemia unawareness. In this condition, the body and brain no longer produce the typical warning signs of low blood sugar, such as shakiness or a rapid heartbeat. This can make it difficult for individuals to recognize when their blood sugar levels are dropping, potentially leading to severe, life-threatening hypoglycemia.

Risks Associated with Hypoglycemia Unawareness

The risk of hypoglycemia unawareness is escalated when you have recurrent episodes of low blood sugar. This unawareness increases the danger of severe, potentially fatal hypoglycemia. It's also worth noting that the likelihood of developing hypoglycemia unawareness is higher in individuals who have had diabetes for more than 5-10 years, frequently experience low blood sugar, or are on certain medications such as beta-blockers for high blood pressure.

If you're living with diabetes and have experienced recurring episodes of hypoglycemia or hypoglycemia unawareness, it's crucial to discuss this with your healthcare provider. They may suggest modifying your treatment plan, raising your blood sugar level goals, and recommending blood glucose awareness training. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM), like the ones we offer here at ProMed DME, can be an effective tool for those with hypoglycemia unawareness. The device can alert you when your blood sugar is dangerously low, helping you take appropriate action to prevent severe hypoglycemia.

Understanding low blood sugar symptoms in adults is crucial to managing your health effectively. If you experience any symptoms, or if you have a history of hypoglycemia unawareness, don't hesitate to reach out to us for advice and support.

How to Respond to Low Blood Sugar Symptoms

Recognizing and responding to low blood sugar symptoms in adults promptly is crucial to prevent severe complications. Here are some practical steps to take if you notice any of the symptoms we've discussed.

The "15-15 Rule" for Treating Low Blood Sugar

A common approach to handling low blood sugar episodes is the "15-15 Rule". This involves consuming 15 grams of carbohydrates and then checking your blood glucose levels again after 15 minutes. If your blood glucose is still below 70 mg/dL, have another serving. Repeat these steps until your blood glucose is at least 70 mg/dL.

Here are some examples of what you can consume to get 15 grams of carbohydrates:

  • Glucose tablets (follow the instructions on the package)
  • Gel tube (again, see the instructions)
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of juice or regular soda (not diet)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup
  • Hard candies, jellybeans, or gumdrops (check the food label for the right amount)

It's important to consume fast-acting carbohydrates and avoid foods that contain fats along with carbs, like chocolate, as they can slow the absorption of glucose.

When to Seek Medical Help

If your blood glucose levels don't increase after following the "15-15 Rule", or if you experience severe symptoms like seizures or unconsciousness, seek immediate medical help. It's crucial that your family members and friends also know how to respond to your low blood sugar symptoms, especially if you're unable to do so.

At ProMed DME, we're committed to helping you manage your diabetes effectively. Make a note of any episodes of low blood sugar and discuss them with your healthcare team or ask our nurse about why it happened. Together, we can suggest ways to avoid low blood sugar in the future and ensure you're using your Continuous Glucose Monitor effectively to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

Preventing Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar symptoms in adults can be dangerous if left untreated, hence the importance of prevention cannot be overstated. Let's explore two crucial ways to prevent low blood sugar: regular blood glucose monitoring and maintaining a balanced diet and lifestyle.

Importance of Regular Blood Glucose Monitoring

Regularly monitoring your blood glucose levels is a vital step in preventing low blood sugar. It allows you to spot trends and changes in your glucose levels, and adjust your medication, food intake, or physical activity accordingly. At ProMed DME, we recommend the use of Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) devices for real-time blood glucose monitoring. These devices, like the Dexcom G6 and Dexcom G7, provide immediate updates on your blood glucose levels, which can alert you if they start to trend low.

If you're experiencing hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition where you don’t have symptoms when your blood sugar is low, regular monitoring is even more critical. By checking your blood sugar more often, you can catch low levels early and treat them before they become severe.

Role of Diet and Lifestyle in Preventing Low Blood Sugar

Your diet and lifestyle play a crucial role in maintaining your blood sugar levels. Here are a few key factors to consider:

  • Balanced diet: Ensure your meals and snacks are balanced with the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats. This can help maintain stable blood sugar levels. Also, avoid skipping meals to prevent sudden drops in blood sugar.

  • Physical activity: Regular exercise can help manage your blood glucose levels. However, the amount and timing of physical activity can affect your blood sugar. Always check your blood sugar before and after exercising.

  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can cause low blood sugar. If you do drink, make sure to have a meal or snack at the same time to prevent a sudden drop in blood sugar levels.

  • Regular Routine: Unexpected changes in your schedule can impact your blood sugar levels. Try to stick to a regular routine of meals, activity, and medication.

The more information you can provide to your healthcare provider, the better they can help you manage your blood sugar levels. This could involve adjusting the timing of insulin dosing, exercise, and meals or snacks.

At ProMed DME, we are here to support you in managing your blood sugar levels effectively. Together, we can help you lead a healthy, active life without worrying about low blood sugar.


Recognizing and responding to low blood sugar symptoms in adults is crucial. The symptoms, including shakiness, a fast heartbeat, sweating, nervousness or anxiety, hunger, irritability or confusion, dizziness, fatigue, changes in vision, and seizures, are indicators that you may need immediate treatment to prevent a more severe low blood sugar episode.

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms or reacts to low blood sugar in the same way. Therefore, understanding your unique signs of low blood sugar is vital. Also, be aware of a condition known as hypoglycemia unawareness, where you might not notice any symptoms despite low blood sugar levels. This condition can be particularly dangerous, as it could lead to severe hypoglycemia.

At ProMed DME, we acknowledge the importance of monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly to prevent hypoglycemia. We offer Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) such as the Dexcom G6, which provide real-time glucose readings and can alert you when your levels are trending high or low.

If you are experiencing low blood sugar symptoms regularly, don't ignore them. We strongly encourage you to seek medical advice. Hypoglycemia can be a sign that your diabetes management plan needs adjustment.

Managing your blood sugar levels effectively is key to leading a healthy and active life with diabetes. At ProMed DME, we are here to support you every step of the way. For more information about managing your diabetes or understanding your symptoms, visit our resources page or contact us for personalized support.

diabetes management - low blood sugar symptoms in adults

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