Medical Definition of Hypoglycemia unawareness

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Hypoglycemia unawareness: A complication of diabetes in which the patient is unaware of a deep drop in blood sugar because it fails to trigger the secretion of epinephrine which generates the characteristic symptoms of hypoglycemia (such as palpitations, sweating, anxiety) that serve to warn the patient of the dropping blood glucose. The patient can then take action and eat to help reverse the hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia unawareness can result in prolonged exposure to hypoglycemia, resulting in a seizure, loss of consciousness, or brain damage. The development of hypoglycemia unawareness also makes intensified blood glucose control more difficult and puts the patient at risk for severe hypoglycemia-related complications.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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