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HEALTH TIPS
LOW BLOOD SUGAR(hypoglycaemia)

OVERVIEW

Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your blood sugar (glucose) level is lower than normal. Glucose is your body's main energy source.

Hypoglycemia is often related to diabetes treatment. But other drugs and a variety of conditions — many rare — can cause low blood sugar in people who don't have diabetes

Hypoglycemia needs immediate treatment when blood sugar levels are low. For many people, a fasting blood sugar of 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.9 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or below should serve as an alert for hypoglycemia. But your numbers might be different. Ask your doctor.

Treatment involves quickly getting your blood sugar back to normal either with high-sugar foods or drinks or with medications. Long-term treatment requires identifying and treating the cause of hypoglycemia.

Early signs of low blood sugar include:

  • sweating.
  • feeling tired.
  • dizziness.
  • feeling hungry.
  • tingling lips.
  • feeling shaky or trembling.
  • a fast or pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
  • becoming easily irritated, tearful, anxious or moody.

CAUSES OF LOW BLOOD SUGAR

Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) level falls too low. There are several reasons why this can happen; the most common is a side effect of drugs used to treat diabetes.

Possible causes, with diabetes

If you have diabetes, you might not make enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or you might be less responsive to it (type 2 diabetes). As a result, glucose tends to build up in the bloodstream and can reach dangerously high levels. To correct this problem, you might take insulin or other drugs to lower blood sugar levels.

But too much insulin or other diabetes medications may cause your blood sugar level to drop too low, causing hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can also occur if you eat less than usual after taking diabetes medication, or if you exercise more than you normally do.

Possible causes, without diabetes

Hypoglycemia in people without diabetes is much less common. Causes can include the following:

  • Medications. Taking someone else's oral diabetes medication accidentally is a possible cause of hypoglycemia. Other medications can cause hypoglycemia, especially in children or in people with kidney failure. One example is quinine (Qualaquin), used to treat malaria.
  • Excessive alcohol drinking. Drinking heavily without eating can block your liver from releasing stored glucose into your bloodstream, causing hypoglycemia.
  • Some critical illnesses. Severe liver illnesses such as severe hepatitis or cirrhosis can cause hypoglycemia. Kidney disorders, which can keep your body from properly excreting medications, can affect glucose levels due to a buildup of those medications.

Long-term starvation, as can occur in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, can result in too little of substances your body needs to create glucose.

  • Insulin overproduction. A rare tumor of the pancreas (insulinoma) can cause you to produce too much insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia. Other tumors also can result in too much production of insulin-like substances. Enlargement of cells of the pancreas that produce insulin can result in excessive insulin release, causing hypoglycemia.
  • Hormone deficiencies. Certain adrenal gland and pituitary tumor disorders can result in a deficiency of key hormones that regulate glucose production. Children can have hypoglycemia if they have too little growth hormone.

Complications

Untreated hypoglycemia can lead to:

  • Seizure
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death

Hypoglycemia can also contribute to the following:

  • Dizziness and weakness
  • Falls
  • Injuries
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Greater risk of dementia in older adults

       PREVENTION

 


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