Hypoglycemia is a health condition in which the blood sugar level is abnormally low. Glucose is the energy source of the body’s metabolic system and its production is regulated by a hormone called insulin. This condition refers to low blood sugar level which mostly occurs in diabetic patients and newborns. However, there may be nondiabetic hypoglycemia or hypoglycemia without diabetics. What causes the condition are drug effects, liver damage among others. There are management and emergency treatments that can help the condition.
When you have symptoms of hypoglycemia (as listed above), check your blood sugar levels under the glucose meter. To be confirmed as hypoglycemic, your blood sugar level will drop below 70mg/dL (3.9mmol/L). Every test should be done with a fasting blood sugar.
- Check your blood sugar levels regularly with a blood glucose meter (a small device that measures and displays your blood sugar levels).
- Fast or drink mostly sugar or carbohydrates. Pure glucose (found in tablets, gels, and other forms). Don’t take diet soft drinks.
- Fatty food doesn’t raise blood sugar quickly.
- One tablespoon (15ml) of sugar, corn syrup or honey, hard candy, or jelly beans are food.
- Check your blood sugar level 15 minutes after eating or drinking something to treat hypoglycemia. If your blood sugar is still too low, eat or drink something sugary again.
- You may take a reduced dose of insulin to ensure that your blood sugar levels don’t rise too quickly.
- Note that high blood sugar levels increase your risk of long-term diabetes complications if you have an insulin dose often.
Glucagon hormones raise blood sugar quickly. Glucagon is available only by prescription. It comes in an emergency syringe kit or as a nasal treatment.
- If you have frequent and severe hypoglycemia, despite medication and adjustment, keep your blood sugar in a higher than the normal range.
- Use a continuous glucose monitor and have glucagon with you, at all times.
- Sometimes, people don’t have or don’t recognize the early symptoms of hypoglycemia. People with hypoglycemia unawareness should keep their blood sugar in a higher than the normal range. It is also important that such people check their blood sugar consistently before going to bed and have carbohydrate-rich snacks before going to sleep.
- Inform persons you trust about your health situation; educate them on how to minister glucagon, so that in emergencies, they can safely manage it
- Always carry a hypoglycemic treatment (gels, glucose tablets, hard candy) with you.
Hyperglycemia vs Hypoglycemia
Hyperglycemia is the high level of sugar (glucose) in the blood which often results in diabetes mellitus. However, hypoglycemia is the low level of sugar in the blood that often occurs in diabetic patients.
When blood sugar levels become too low, some associated symptoms can be observed, which include:
- Anxiety and nervousness,
- Frequent feeling of hunger,
- Fast irregular heartbeat,
- Excessive sweating,
- Paleness of the skin,
- Insensitivity of the lips, tongue, cheeks, etc.
And in acute situations:
- Loss of consciousness,
- Blurred vision,
- Abnormality in behaviour.
It is important to note that not all persons with hypoglycemic symptoms have diabetes. Only in rare situations can patients with nondiabetic hypoglycemia be found
Attempts to step down the high blood sugar level in a diabetic person most times results to side-effects which leads to low sugar (glucose) level in the blood, due to the medication.
Hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels fall too low. Other causes may include:
- Effects of drugs with kidney failure,
- Excess alcohol consumption op your liver from producing glucose, and
- Any disorder that affects your liver, heart, or kidney.
The hormone insulin lowers the blood sugar levels when sugar is too high. In Type1 and Type2 Diabetes, insulin is needed to control the blood sugar. Taking more insulin than needed can cause d sugar levels to drop remarkably low, leading to hypoglycemia. Insulinoma and other tumors can cause hypoglycemia.
- Is hypoglycemia a sign of diabetes?
Diabetes may be associated with hypoglycemia. Extremely much insulin or other diabetes medication may cause your blood sugar levels to drop considerably and hypoglycemia occurs.
In rare cases, there can be hypoglycemia without diabetes. Hypoglycemia also occurs if you eat less than usual after taking doses of diabetes medication, or if you exercise more than usual.
- What is a hypoglycemic attack?
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. It occurs when a glucose level in the blood falls below normal (70mg/dL or 3.9mmol/L). It can also occur if you take diabetes medication that increases insulin levels in your blood.
- What happens to the brain during hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia commonly causes brain fuel deprivation which results in functional brain failure. This can be corrected by stepping up plasma glucose levels.
- What foods should make up the table of a hypoglycemic person?
The dietary plan of a hypoglycemia patient should include:
- Protein; chicken, fish, tofu, beans, etc.
- Salads and vegetables
- Fluids especially water.
- What can mimic symptoms of hypoglycemia?
The following conditions can show symptoms suggestive of hypoglycemia:
- Bone cancer
- Brain cancer
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Food poisoning
- Tumors such as insulinoma.