Hypoglycemia is a condition caused by low blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. Glucose is the main way your body gets energy. The condition is most common in people with diabetes who have problems with medicine, food, or exercise. But sometimes people who do not have diabetes can also get low blood glucose, such as when you are being treated for an infection or responding poorly to an illness. This can cause many symptoms, including hunger, weakness, shakiness, confusion, and headaches. The recommended treatment involves immediately getting your blood sugar level back to within the standard range either with a high-sugar food or drink or with medication. Long-term treatment requires identifying and treating the cause of hypoglycemia. The causes of hypoglycemia vary from person to person. Typically, there are two types of hypoglycaemias:
- Reactive hypoglycemia happens when your blood sugar levels fall after you eat, and it can happen several hours after you eat. For example: if you ate a meal with a lot of carbohydrates and protein, you might feel hungry an hour later. This is because your body releases insulin in response to having eaten. Your pancreas turns this sugar into glycogen for storage in your liver and muscles so that it is available the next time you need energy.
- Fasting hypoglycemia is when you do not eat for a few hours and suddenly have trouble staying awake because of low blood sugar. Fasting hypoglycemia results from long-term dieting or starvation and can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.
Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which there is not enough sugar in your blood to power your brain. It is most often brought on by eating too much carbohydrate-rich food, drinking alcohol, or an extreme change in weight. If you feel symptoms of hypoglycemia, your body may be functioning at a low level of glucose. Your pancreas releases insulin to get sugar into your cells. When blood sugar levels go too low, the brain senses it and sends signals to the liver and muscles to remove stored sugar from storage sites in the body. Various symptoms of hypoglycemia include:
- Looking pale
- Hunger or nausea
- An irregular or fast heartbeat
- Irritability or anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Tingling or numbness of the lips, tongue, or cheek
Apart from the above mentioned, if someone’s blood sugar level worsens, then the person may come across different symptoms such as:
- Confusion, unusual behavior, or both, such as the inability to complete routine tasks
- Loss of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Blurry vision or tunnel vision
- Nightmares, if asleep
And, if we talk about the serious state of the same, the symptoms are:
- Unresponsiveness (loss of consciousness)
When To See A Doctor
Hypoglycemia is a common side effect of diabetes and can be life-threatening. Detecting hypoglycemia early is a key part of health management, including prevention. It happens when your blood sugar drops so low that you may feel shaky, sweaty, dizzy, or confused. Seek medical help immediately if you experience these symptoms or find yourself passing out unexpectedly. If you have hypoglycemia and are not responding to treatment such as drinking fruit juice or diet soda, eating candy, or taking glucose tablets, then immediately call 911 or get emergency help for yourself or someone with diabetes who has symptoms of severe hypoglycemia.
Low Blood Sugar Level In People With Diabetes
Ask your doctor if any of your medicines can cause low blood sugar. Your medicine may cause low blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes or another condition that affects your ability to produce insulin. Insulin treatment may cause low blood sugar, and so can a type of diabetes medication called sulfonylureas. Commonly used sulfonylureas include:
- Glimepiride (Amaryl)
- Glipizide (Glucotrol)
- Glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase)
- Micronized glyburide (Glynase)
Age is a factor when choosing prescription medications. Older, less common sulfonylureas tend to cause low blood sugar more often than newer ones. Examples of older drugs include:
- Chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
- Repaglinide (Prandin)
- Tolazamide (Tolinase)
- Tolbutamide (Orinase)
If you are taking diabetes medication, things like alcohol or medications with allopurinol (Zyloprim), probenecid (Probalan), or warfarin (Coumadin) can reduce how much of your insulin and other diabetes medicines work in your body. So, you will need to watch your blood sugar more closely than usual. You should not get hypoglycemia if you take alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides (such as metformin), and thiazolidinediones alone, but it can happen when you take them with sulfonylureas or insulin.
Diabetics are at risk for low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. If you have diabetes and skip a meal or do not eat enough, your blood sugar could drop. If that happens, draw up more insulin to bring it back up to normal levels. Skipping meals may put you at risk of developing low blood sugar if you are taking medications that lower your blood sugar (such as insulin). You can get low blood sugar if you take too much insulin for carbohydrates you eat or drink. For instance, it can happen:
- It can be taken after a meal that has a lot of sugar
- One situation can be if you have skipped a snack or did not eat a full meal
- If a person eats late as compared to their usual timings
- Oh yes, one more is that if anyone drinks alcohol without any snack
Causes Of Reactive Hypoglycemia
Having too much insulin in your blood can cause a condition called reactive hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia usually happens within a few hours after you eat. It is more common with prediabetes but can occur at any time in people who have diabetes and are taking too much insulin. It usually happens within a few hours after you eat and can be exacerbated by stress or exercise. Other possible causes include Prediabetes, Having surgery, and Inborn errors of metabolism.
Causes Of Fasting Hypoglycemia
Some people have fasting hypoglycemia, a condition in which the body does not get enough glucose because of poor eating habits or medications. Fasting hypoglycemia can be caused by medicines, such as aspirin and sulfa drugs, too much alcohol use, and diseases of the liver, kidney, and heart. Low levels of certain hormones may also lead to fasting hypoglycemia. Fasting hypoglycemia can be treated by following a healthy diet and adjusting the number of calories from food and beverages taken during fasting to prevent a hypoglycemic reaction.
Tests And Diagnosis
A healthcare provider will do a physical exam and ask questions about any medicines you take. Your doctor will listen to your symptoms and ask questions about your health. They will check your blood sugar level, especially when you have symptoms of hypoglycemia. They also may check for other reasons for low blood sugar, such as diabetes or another condition that affects your body’s ability to regulate insulin. They will want to know all about your health and any history of diseases or stomach surgery. They will check your blood glucose level, especially when you are having symptoms.
If your doctor suspects hypoglycemia, you may have to fast until you start to have symptoms. They will test your blood glucose level at different times throughout the fast. To check for reactive hypoglycemia, you may have to take a test called a mixed-meal tolerance test (MMTT). This fast will help your body get used to the stress of a low blood sugar level, which can trigger symptoms of hypoglycemia. If your doctor suspects hypoglycemia, you may have to fast until you start to have symptoms. They will check your blood glucose level at different times throughout the fast.
Can you check your blood sugar? If you have diabetes or insulin problems and your blood sugar is below 70, it is normal to feel shaky and dizzy. These symptoms can happen when you do not take enough insulin. It is important to test your blood sugar level every 15 minutes so you can treat low levels right away. If it is below 70 or on the verge of dropping below 70, eat 15 to 20 grams of carbs. You can take juice, hard candy, or glucose tablets. This will usually help your symptoms go away. Check your blood sugar again in 15 minutes and treat it every 15 minutes if levels are still low. Call 911 if you do not feel well or if you cannot get your blood sugar back up.
If you do not have diabetes, this can be tricky. If a medicine is to blame, then a person needs to change it but if it becomes a tumor then you may need surgery. Eat 15 grams of carbohydrates (such as juice or table sugar) if your insulin is up to date. You can instantly boost your blood glucose if you take glucagon, but it is best to check with your doctor first. If you do not have access to a glucagon kit, drink a glass of orange juice. Or eat hard candy or glucose tablets until your blood sugar is normal again. The FDA has approved three medications for treating very low blood sugar:
- Baqsimi – taken as a nasal powder
- Dasiglucagon (Zegalogue) – taken by injection
- Gvoke – taken through injection
If a person has diabetes, make some changes to help keep your blood sugar steady such as:
- Eat at least three evenly-spaced meals
- Exercise 30 minutes to 1 hour after meals
- Before taking medicine Double-check your insulin and dose
- Be moderate and monitor your blood sugar levels if you drink alcohol
- Test your blood sugar
But if a person does not have diabetes certain things to be kept in mind:
- Eat a small meal or snack after a few hours
- Avoid high-sugar food
- Include protein, fatty, and high-fiber food in your diet
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