How do Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia FEEL?

As a non-diabetic, I don’t know the answer to this but I’d love to know. I’ve often wondered how your body, brain, etc., “feel” as you are experiencing either a hypo, or a hyperglycemic episode. I ask because I’d love to know what questions to ask Liam when he’s low (and high) as a way to begin having him recognize how his body is talking to him.

Does everyone experience different feelings? Shaking? Nausea? Sweating? …I just have no idea and I’d love some input.



slurred speech
glazed eyes, the thousand yard stare
kind of wobbly
sometimes hungry (this one is often overlooked)

Think “drunk”

lots of peeing

A lot of these are similar. It is extremely important for you to help Liam be able to recognize the feelings. When he is low, ask him how he feels and help him associate the feeling with needing sugar. That is so very important! Get him to understand what a low feels like. Don’t just treat, associate it with the feeling while treating. Make him a BG Ninja.


I had wondered if “confusion” was one of the symptoms that are experienced because, during the night when he’s sleeping, if we have to treat him and we give him juice with a straw…sometimes he will “suck” on the straw as is expected, but other times he will “chew” on his straw instead of suck from it. During these lows, we have to literally wake him up to make him understand he needs to suck instead of attempt to chew on the straw.

Thanks for the list!

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Confusion may not be an official symptom, although I suspect it is present in lows, but waking a child up to do something in the middle of the night varies from super easy, to really really hard.

My son had a low last week in the middle of the night and I asked him to eat something, and instead he pretended (in his sleep) to get his pump out and make a change. then rolled over and ignored me. I only hope he was lowering basal in his dream. In the real world, he got a good “waking up” with all the associated grumbling to eat something.


That is a good indicator. It might be sleepiness, but that sounds like a “low” thing.


That is true…confusion is probably something that any kid feels (heck, adults for that matter) when they’re either woken up, or being made to do something in their sleep. The brain behaves in strange ways for all my kids (and probably everyone) when I wake them up at night. My non-diabetic kids have had this same behavior when I wake them up to go to the bathroom (teaching them to not wet the bed). As I have watched on numerous occasions for pretty much all my boys, when they’re woken up and told to go to the bathroom, they’ll either get up, and lay back down, or they’ll walk all the way to the toilet, get “prepared” to go pee…but do absolutely nothing but stand there rocking back and forth (sleeping), then pull their clothes back up, flush, close lid, quickly turn on/off faucet, and go right back to bed. So I have to prod them to ACTUALLY go.

So the more I think about the “chewing” maybe it’s not diabetes so much as just the general confusion we feel when woken up from a deep sleep, but I suppose it could be a side effect of diabetes as well.

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For me—

In the ranges I experience hyperglycemia it doesn’t have a lot of terribly unpleasant sensation with it, other than feeling lethargic and groggy and generally unenthused— I compare to how a gluco normal person feels after thanksgiving dinner but without the thanksgiving dinner

Significant Hypoglycemia-- panic, anxiety, irrational frustration, hot, sweaty, hungry, shaky… like you’ve never drank coffee in your life and then drank way way too much of it on an empty stomach, imagine how you’d feel inside if you just ran over a little kid with your car…


Lows less than 50: in addition to SX mentioned above, I experience visual distortions! Ugh!!

Highs can also make me feel cranky and anxious. :cry:


All of the above, plus when I’m high (+250) I’m a real a-hole (more than usual).

And with lows (-35) I not only get as described by others but also get extremely paranoid and frightened. And after it’s over I have to go change my shirt because it’s soaked.

But the highs and lows probably effect my poor wife more than they do me.


So very bloated??? That’s generally my biggest feeling after T-Giving dinner. lol

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I also wanted to mention, low BGs are not always the same. For me it can be only one symptom, a combination of a few symptoms, or many of the symptoms I listed.

Sometimes I get very tired. If I desperately want to go to sleep, that’s a good sign I need sugar. But other times I am not tired at all.

That’s what can make it tricky. It can be a big list of possible signs, but just not always consistent.


Worst sign a bad low is in progress: big flashbulb spot in the center of my vision, like I’ve glanced at the sun or had a camera flash go off in my face. That usually means I’ve hit 50 or below. Often I get that effect before anything else when it’s going down fast. Then my knees start to lock up and unbelievably intense gnawing hunger–Eat Now Or Die!–starts. Confusion? Definitely. Like even though I have the hunger thing I can’t figure out what to eat. Just want to sit down and shut my eyes. Cone vision. Yuck.

Hyper I don’t feel very much unless it’s pushing into the 300s, which rarely happens. Nausea, headache, tiredness but less acute than hypo. More like a mild hangover. Gets worse if prolonged.


Things I’ve noticed:

  • Low symptoms:

    • Brain fog and light headed
    • Quivering (internally, like having the chills)
    • Crabby and anxious
    • Hyper sensitive - no tolerance for normal things like music, joking (which I normally love)
    • Difficulty walking
    • Just want to be left alone!
  • The faster my BG is dropping, the more I feel the symptoms

  • If my BG has been on the higher side for a bit (when sick), I’ll feel the next lows much earlier.

High symptoms for me are like a general malaise … how @drbbennett explained it, like an annoying hangover. :face_with_head_bandage:


I know when I was a teen, once my mom in the morning asked me if I had been low the night before. I said yes, why? Turns out I had had some frozen yogurt and then left the entire thing sitting on the counter. Oops. Yes, confusion is definitely a symptom—I also used to over-treat like crazy when waking up (I never had a parent waking me up, since no CGM then and besides, I was 10 when diagnosed and always seemed to wake up on my own from lows, so they didn’t worry about it) since I’d basically be like a half-asleep sugar zombie wandering into the kitchen. SUGARRRR.

Otherwise when I’m awake:

hunger (for me, an unexpected sudden uptick in hunger is a very reliable indicator of quickly dropping blood sugars at any absolute level, so even from 250 to 150 would feel that. when really low, it’s more intense and suddenly I want to eat ALL THE THINGS)
fast heart rate (which can make me feel like I’m anxious, even if I wasn’t)
confusion/can’t think well
drunk-ish feeling
tunnel vision (very severe low only)

need to pee (my immediate thought whenever I both am thirsty and need to pee at the same time is I must be high; sometimes not the case though)
slightly sugar-y taste in my mouth (not ketones—something else)
headaches sometimes
flushed cheeks
sometimes very chatty (my mom used to notice this one, combined with the red cheeks)
sometimes hungry if caused by lack of insulin
if high overnight, it feels like a mild hangover when I wake up from the dehydration


some weird hunger feeling
below ~2.5 mmol/l (45 mg/dl): excessive sweating

Like @drbbennett I don’t feel hypers unless they’re very high, above 18 mmol/l or so.
Symptoms include:
lots of peeing


When I am low, this is what I feel:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling, shaking
  • Not thinking straight
  • Really tired or really energized
  • Angry, mood swings

When I am high, it’s really hard to feel. My parents can tell when I am high because they say that I speak faster, I can be a bit flushed, I am more disorganized. When I am really high, like above 250, I am tired, but more like energy-sapping kind of tired, rather than sleepy. I have a bit of a hard time concentrating. I typically don’t notice it unless I already know I am high.


For me, lows feel like there is a Dementor (Harry Potter) or Black Rider (Lord of the Rings) in the room. There is an invisible evil presence sucking happiness and hope out of the room.

It is very hard to put the feeling into words, but it is the most horrible thing ever.

I also get many other symptoms people have mentioned, especially with more severe hypos.


i don’t always feel a low coming on until i am in the 40s; at which point my husband panics and wants to shove every bit of sugar that we have in the house down my throat. he becomes in a complete sense of panic; and we’ve been together for 25 yrs. you’d think he’d know better by now :wink: .


I just read this

I try to avoid hypo’s that is for me, decreasing rapidly with quite a big of IOB. This below is news to me:

"3. Lows are horrendous for overall control of BG. When BG’s dip below 70, our bodies alarm us to get some sugar into the system. One way our bodies do that is by releasing hormones that cause us to have intense hunger. (This is why I try to avoid lows when I’m in public – I’ve learned the hard way that people will look at you strangely when you finish an entire box of cereal in one sitting.) "

I thought that non diabetic BG may often be in the 60’s 70’s range.


The premise of this article is ridiculous. At 100 my alarm would be constantly going off, and to silence it I would probably overeat and stay high.

Instead of the silly idea of setting your low alarm at 100, how about looking at the arrows once in a while? It amazes me that a medical student doesn’t know how to use his CGM.