Contributed by: Abshar Faheem

Hypoglycemia is described as a condition when the levels of blood glucose or blood sugar is too low or lower than the normal range. A blood sugar level less than 140mg/dl is considered normal. Hypoglycemia occurs when the level of blood sugar goes down up to 70  mg/dl or lower. Your blood sugar level might be different at different times so check with your healthcare provider to seek out what level of blood sugar is low for you. 

Extreme hunger, slight nausea, dizziness, headache, nervousness, shaking and so are some warning signs of low blood sugar. A person may go into a coma or can die in severe cases. Low blood sugar occurs with people who have diabetes and use medications to cure it but sometimes, the reaction of medicine such as insulin leads to a drop in the level of sugar.  In this article, we will explore what causes low blood sugar, hypoglycemia symptoms, and hypoglycemia treatment.

 

Overview

Blood sugar or glucose is an essential source of energy that you get from the food you eat. Foods rich in carbohydrates such as potatoes, milk, vegetables, fruits, cereals, etc., are the main source of blood sugar or glucose. The blood sugar present in the food is absorbed into your bloodstream and from there it reaches your body cells. A hormone called insulin that builds up in your pancreas allows your cells to utilize the glucose present in the bloodstream for energy.

Once glucose enters the cells, the level of blood sugar in your blood goes down. If you consume more glucose than you need, your body can preserve the extra glucose in your liver, muscles, or in the form of fat so it might be utilized later whenever your body requires more energy. Both glucose and insulin are mandatory for your body in the optimum. Without insulin, your body will not be able to adjust to higher blood sugar levels causing diabetes. Diabetes occurs when you have too much blood sugar and a low level of insulin. 

 

Hypoglycemia causes

There are multiple causes of hypoglycemia but the most common is with people who have diabetes. People with diabetes undergo various treatments to allow their bodies to utilize glucose in the blood. They take oral medications that enhance insulin production and insulin injections. Consuming too much of these oral medications may lead to lower blood sugar level. People may also get low blood sugar when they plan to consume a big meal but in actuality, they do not eat much.. People with diabetes may also get hypoglycemia because of other reasons such as:

  • If you are taking anti-diabetes medications on time but skipping meals, eating less than normal, delaying your meals or not following your normal routine that may also lead to a lower blood sugar level. 
  • Not consuming an optimum amount of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, or fiber in your diet can lead to low blood sugar
  • Intense exercising without eating can lead to low blood sugar in people who take insulin to manage their diabetes
  • People with diabetes may also get hypoglycemia if they take the wrong or incorrect insulin.
  • People who are on medication may get lower blood sugar if they drink too much alcohol or sometimes without eating. Too much alcohol may not allow the lever to release the stored glucose.

You may get low blood sugar even if you don’t have diabetes. Following are some other health issues that may lead to hypoglycemia: 

  • When your blood sugar is low, your pancreas releases a hormone called glucagon. This glucagon hormone instructs the liver to break down the preserved glucose. The liver releases the glucose that goes into the bloodstream and normalizes blood sugar. If you consume too much alcohol, it becomes hectic for the liver to perform its function. The liver may not be able to release blood sugar in the bloodstream that may lead to a drop in blood sugar that may cause hypercalcemia. 
  • Some liver diseases such as hepatitis, an inflammatory condition that stops the liver from functioning properly. If the liver does not release glucose in the bloodstream that may lead to low blood sugar in your body.
  • Kidneys process medications and remove wastes from the body. People with kidney disorders might experience problems while excreting waste products of medications present in the bloodstream. This may lead to a change in low blood sugar levels in your body and may cause hypoglycemia. 
  • Endocrine disorders such as adrenal gland deficiency or pituitary gland deficiency disorder can cause hypoglycemia because these glands affect the hormones that manage glucose production in the body. It is most common in children rather than adults. 
  • A tumor called insulinoma, a rare tumor in the pancreas that can cause organs to produce an excess of insulin may lead to lower blood sugar.
  • Severe kidney, heart, liver failure, or cancer may affect organs including the pancreas that can cause hypoglycemia.

 

Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia

Generally, people experience hypoglycemia symptoms when their blood sugar level is 70mg/dl or lower. Individuals with diabetes may feel different signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia and it may affect them differently. You can spot your symptoms and learn how it makes you feel also although your signs and symptoms may vary with time. The signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Feeling Sweats
  • Feeling exhausted or fatigued
  • Unsteadiness or giddiness
  • Feeling starved
  • Tingling lips
  • Feeling trembling
  • Pulsations or Palpitations
  • Extensive behavior
  • Turning pale
  • Drowsiness
  • Nasty behavior

 

Once hypoglycemia get worse with time, you may also feel other hypoglycemia symptoms including,

  • Feeling confused
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unusual behavior
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor concentration
  • Bad dreaming

Severe hypoglycemia symptoms can be dangerous to life. People who regularly experience hypoglycemia may become ignorant of warning signs that are known as hypoglycemia unawareness and it can lead to serious complications such as seizures, coma, accidents, fatal, or nervous system damage. It is imperative to learn your symptoms earlier and treat them immediately.

 

Hypoglycemia treatment

If you have diabetes and feel the symptoms of hypoglycemia, talk to your doctor as soon as possible and also, check your blood sugar level. A blood sugar level lower than 70mg/dl may lead to hypoglycemia, remember the date and time when it happened with you and what you did. Share your experience with a doctor so that they can adjust your medications. Everyone has different blood sugar levels so the result may vary from person to person. Your doctor may take some blood tests to find out the cause behind low blood sugar. 

Apart from this, consume a glucose tablet, a sugar lump, a candy, or a glass of fruit juice that will help you to enhance your blood sugar rate.  Monitor your glucose level regularly, especially around your meals and exercise. Eat foods rich in carbohydrates such as fruit, bread, rice, or cereals that help you to manage your blood sugar level.

People with diabetes have to check their blood glucose levels regularly and treat their hypoglycemia as early as possible. Include a low intake of sugar, anti-inflammatory foods to beat diabetes, and a high intake of carbohydrates in your diet. Consume small meals in the daytime that will help you to manage your blood sugar level. People with hypoglycemia due to a medical condition should also: 

  • Follow all the instructions given by your doctor and ask for help if they get severe symptoms
  • Keep checking of blood sugar level on daily basis can help you to manage your low blood sugar 
  • Limit your alcohol as per the doctor recommendation and also avoid drinking without having food
  • Eat carbohydrate-rich food before exercising and do not ignore the impact of exercise on your blood sugar level
  • Avoid driving when your level of blood sugar is low
  • Wear an identification bracelet that you have diabetes

 

The bottom line

Check your blood sugar level on a daily basis, talk to your doctor regularly and follow all the instructions given by him or her. Talk to your doctor and treat your diabetes earlier because it may lead to hypoglycemia and other health problems. Hypoglycemia is a serious health problem that may lead to coma or death if left untreated. So it is imperative to talk to your doctor because early treatment can be effective for managing serious health issues.

 

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