The Children and Young People’s Diabetes Team
The information is this leaflet is for children or young people. If a parent is reading this please substitute the word ‘you’ for ‘your child’.
What is hypoglycaemia?
Hypoglycaemia is the most common short term complication of diabetes and occurs when blood glucose levels drop below four mmol/l.
Known as a hypo, you can remember this as hypo rhymes with low.
Why do hypo’s happen?
Blood glucose levels fall because:
- Too much insulin has been given.
- Not enough food, especially carbohydrate has been eaten.
- You have been more active than usual.
- Warm and sunny weather increases insulin absorption.
- Alcohol or recreational drugs have been taken.
- No reason that you can think of.
How do I recognise a hypo?
Hypo’s happen quickly but you will usually get warning signs to alert you, or people around you that your blood glucose levels are dropping.
Signs can include:
Trembling or shakiness
Anxiety or irritability
Pallor – looking pale
Lack of concentration
Mood change, unusual, angry or aggressive behaviour
The symptoms can be different for everyone and you should explain to other people such as teachers, friends and or people who care for you what your warning signs are. Hypo signs can change as you get older.
Treating a hypo
It is very important that a hypo is treated quickly. If left untreated your blood glucose may continue to fall and you could become unconscious.
You should not be left alone during a hypo, or be sent off on your own to get food to treat it. Recovery treatment should be brought to you. Once recovered you can continue with any activity you were doing before your hypo.
What should you do if you have hypo symptoms?
- Wash hands
- Check blood glucose if able to do so, if not treat as hypo.
Treat immediately if blood glucose below 4 mmol/l
If you are able to eat and drink you need 10g of fast acting carbohydrate such as:
- 3 glucose tablets or
- 100mls coke or other non diet drink or
- 3 jelly babies or other sweets
You may need glucogel at this point, and you should have one full tube.
If you are unsure how to use glucogel please speak to your child’s diabetes nurse.
After 15 minutes:
- Wash hands
- Check blood glucose
If blood glucose still below 4 mmol/l
Give another 10g fast acting carbohydrate
If blood glucose above 4 mmol/l you may need some slow acting carbohydrate to prevent your blood glucose dropping again.
10g slow acting carbohydrate is:
- 1 Digestive biscuit or
- 2 Rich tea biscuits or
- 1 slice of toast or
- 1 cereal bar or
- A portion of fruit or
- A meal if it is due
If you are unconscious or fitting you should not be given anything to eat or drink.
You should be placed in the recovery position, lying on your side with your head tilted back.
An adult or someone you are with should call 999 and inform them you have diabetes and you are unconscious or fitting.
You will come around eventually and should not come to any harm if you are kept in the recovery position, whilst you await the ambulance
You may require an injection to raise your blood glucose. This injection called GlucaGen is in an orange box which you should have on prescription from your GP.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.