The Difference Between Hypoglycemia and Diabetes

Both hypoglycemia and diabetes reflect the conditions where the blood glucose levels in the body are not normal. While one condition is known to reduce the level of blood glucose in the body, the other is mainly characterized by the high level of blood glucose. However, due to the very nature of these two, there is a host of other differences too. In this article, we shall explore the differences between hypoglycemia and diabetes. So, come and join in for the article “The Difference Between Hypoglycemia and Diabetes.”

Table of Contents

Meaning of Hypoglycemia Versus Meaning of Diabetes:

Let us first look into the meaning of both hypoglycemia and diabetes to understand their differences.

Hypoglycemia is a condition that affects human being’s due to the blood glucose levels becoming too low, whereas diabetes is a disease which affects the body as the body is unable to either produce enough insulin or is not able to utilize the insulin so produced effectively. The body is not able to regulate the level of blood sugar effectively, thereby leading to high glucose levels. Thus, while hypoglycemia is a condition, diabetes is a wider term which is actually a disease.

Hypoglycemia and Diabetes

Fasting Blood Sugar Level

The level of fasting blood sugar is also different in hypoglycemia when compared to that of diabetes.

While the fasting blood glucose in diabetes is more than 126 mg per dl, it is less than 70 mg per dl in case of hypoglycemia.

Warning Signs of the Two Conditions

How do you know whether you have diabetes or hypoglycemia? Well, the signs and symptoms of the two conditions are different from each other.

Following are the warning signs of Hypoglycemia

  • Feeling hungry at all times
  • Pale skin
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and a feeling of anxiety
  • Sudden aggressive behavior
  • Rapid pulse rate and heartbeat
  • Shakiness in the patient
  • Occurrence of seizures as well as a coma
  • Crying out in the sleep
  • Nightmares and wet pajamas as well as bedding when you get up in the morning

Warning Signs of Diabetes


The reasons why a person suffers from a disease like diabetes is quite different from the reasons of the occurrence of hypoglycemia.

Causes of Hypoglycemia

  • A patient is not eating meals appropriately and is also skipping them
  • A person starts exercising all of a sudden or over-exercising in a few circumstances
  • Disorder in the endocrine system
  • Even diabetes can cause low blood sugar in its patients
  • Tumor that is known to produce too much of insulin
  • Inappropriate medicines that can lead to low blood glucose levels
  • Drinking too much alcohol, particularly on an empty stomach
  • Psychological as well as any type of physical stress

Causes of Diabetes

Diabetes is mainly caused when the body is either unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin so produced by the body is not been utilized efficiently. There are two main types of diabetes and the causes of each one are explained as follows:

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes:

  • Viral infections
  • Genetic reasons: In fact, as per the American Diabetes Association, if you are a man, the chances of your offspring getting the same is around 6%, while it is 4% in case of a woman who has given birth before 25 years of age and 1% in she has given birth post 25 years of age.
  • Geography and race as a few people belonging to particular areas are more prone to getting type 1 diabetes when compared to others.
  • Several environment related factors like food you eat since a young age, toxins you are exposed to, etc.
  • Destruction of the beta cells of the body through an autoimmune function.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Inadequate production of glucose by the liver
  • Environmental and genetic factors as explained above.


The next point of differentiation between hypoglycemia and diabetes are the different ways in which they affect the body.

Effects of Hypoglycemia

Very low levels of blood sugar levels can have the following adverse effects on our body:

  • Drying of the lips
  • Extreme perspiration
  • It can cause brain damage
  • Diabetic shock is another possible effect of the condition where the patient is although alive, but faints and you need to take necessary steps to bring the patient out of the condition. It could even lead to the death of the individual.
  • Hypoglycemia can also adversely affect the digestive system and the nervous system of our body
  • The circulatory system is adversely affected too
  • Amnesia is another possible effect

Diabetes, as we know, is a very complicated disease and has an adverse effect on almost all of the different parts of the body. A few complications which differentiate it from hypoglycemia are:

Thus, as seen above, diabetes is a more complicated disease and the after effects are really serious. Both conditions should be diagnosed at an early stage and be treated.

The difference in How the Two Conditions are Diagnosed

Hypoglycemia is diagnosed by taking a simple glucose tolerance test which is usually a six- hour test.A sample of blood and urine is taken while you are also given a sweet beverage that you should drink. You need to give a blood and urine specimen every hour in those six hours. These are then checked for the glucose levels.

The tests which help to diagnose diabetes include A1c levels test, plasma glucose test, oral glucose tolerance test, amongst others.

Treatment of Hypoglycemia Versus Treatment of Diabetes

Since the two conditions are different from each other, the treatment involved to treat the two are also different as explained below:

Treatment of Hypoglycemia

  • Eating a well-balanced diet comprising adequate and the recommended quantity of carbohydrates should be the first measure you should take.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take medications as prescribed by the doctors
  • If you are taking insulin, do not be negligent and be regular
  • Continuous blood monitoring will go a long way in treating low blood sugar levels.

When a person slips into a diabetic shock due to hypoglycemia in the extreme cases, he or she is first given a snack like a candy, honey, or others. After 15 minutes, the blood glucose level is again checked. If it does not come under control, a similar snack is again administered. However, if nothing works, medical help is always called for. Some people also take in glucagon injections which can help stabilize the blood glucose levels to a normal reading.

Treatment of Diabetes

  • A well-controlled diet forms a very important plan for treatment of diabetes. Take the appropriate amount of carbohydrates, fiber, proteins, etc. in your diet. Everything should be within the recommended quantity, eat a lot of green leafy vegetables
  • Quit smoking
  • Drink alcohol in the recommended quantity
  • Regular exercise
  • Take your insulin injections regularly
  • There are a lot of medications and drugs which might be prescribed by your doctor. Do not miss the same
  • Whenever you wish to include a particular food in your diet, be sure that you are consulting the experts because what suits one patient may not be suitable for you too.

We hope that the above post has been helpful in improving your knowledge about both hypoglycemia and diabetes. After reading this post, you will be in a better position to understand the differences between the two. Both are extremely harmful to us and a healthy lifestyle, well-balanced diet, continuous physical activity are the ways of dealing with both hypoglycemia and diabetes!

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