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Hypo Awareness Week

Hypos affect nearly everyone with Type 1 diabetes, and some people with Type 2 diabetes who use insulin or some other medication.

Hypo Awareness Week 2018 (24-30 September) gives us another opportunity to shine a spotlight on hypos.

For many people living with diabetes, hypos are part of life. But they can be scary and need quick treatment.

If you’ve got friends or family with Type 1 diabetes – would you be able to recognise the symptoms of a hypo? Would you hand them chocolate or jelly babies?

We have information all about the signs and symptoms of hypos, and how to treat them. Have a read, and then test your knowledge with our Hypo Awareness Week quiz.

Once you've done the quiz, share it on social media to inform others and get everyone talking about hypos.

Take the quiz

Young people with Type 1 talk hypos

We asked young people with Type 1 to talk to us about their first or most memorable hypos at university – here's what they told us!


Hypos: the basics


Hypo graphic

Hypos occur when somebody’s blood sugar levels drop. This is dangerous as it means the body doesn’t have enough energy to work properly.

Why do blood sugar levels drop?

This can be the million dollar question. There are some things that we know will make your blood sugars drop too low, like taking too much insulin, unplanned physical activity, not eating enough carbs, or even hot weather. But sometimes there is no obvious reason at all.

What are the symptoms?

There are some common symptoms of a hypo, but everybody will experience a hypo slightly differently – so ask your friends and family what their symptoms are.

Hypo signs and symptoms

Jelly babies

How do you treat a hypo?

It’s important that you treat a hypo quickly with fast-acting sugar, so that blood sugar levels rise again. Good hypo treatments include Lucozade, full-sugar fizzy drinks (not diet versions), orange juice and sweets like jelly babies. Bad hypo treatments include chocolate (the fat in chocolate means the sugar takes longer to get into the blood) and whole fruit like a banana (the fibre slows down absorption of the sugar).

Treating a hypo


Research: can exercise bring back hypo awareness?

“If we find out high intensity exercise works, this could be a really useful and accessible treatment option. 

It doesn’t involve taking medication, it doesn’t cost anything and it’s got added health benefits”

Dr Catriona Farrell, Diabetes UK Research Fellow

Because hypos need to be treated quickly, losing the ability to sense low blood sugar levels – known as hypo unawareness – can be a big problem for people with Type 1 and some with Type 2 diabetes.

We don’t yet fully understand why hypo unawareness happens but our researchers are trying to figure it out. Can we override a brain's learned response and restore a person's ability to detect low blood sugar symptoms? Last year, we awarded a research fellowship to Dr Catriona Farrell to find out if high intensity exercise can bring back hypo awareness in people with Type 1 diabetes.

Read our research blog


Hypo anxiety

We also know that lots of people with Type 1 are afraid of having a hypo, and will do anything to prevent one. We’ve got some tips from a clinical psychologist to help.

Managing hypo anxiety


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