Hypoglycemia - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is a problem that is much over-looked by many doctors today. Hypoglycemia can be due to alimentary problems, idiopathic causes, fasting, insulinoma, endocrine problems, extrapancreatic causes, hepatic disease, and miscellaneous causes. Sometimes the cause of hypoglycemia is unknown (idiopathic). In these cases, people who are not diabetic and who do not have another known cause of hypoglycemia experience these symptoms. Hypoglycemia can produce a variety of symptoms and effects but the principal problems arise from an inadequate supply of glucose as fuel to the brain, resulting in impairment of function ( neuroglycopenia ). Insulin is a hormone that reduces blood glucose. It is produced by the pancreas in response to increased glucose levels in the blood. The symptoms of hypoglycemia can vary from person to person, as can the severity. Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) level drops too low to provide enough energy for your body's activities. There is another type of hypoglycemia. In some people, the body simply responds differently to the digestion of foods. Some foods are digested and absorbed rapidly, resulting in a burst of glucose entering the bloodstream. Classically, hypoglycemia is diagnosed by a low blood sugar with symptoms that resolve when the sugar level returns to the normal range.
Hypoglycemia is relatively common in diabetics. In people who don't have diabetes, some underlying causes of hypoglycemia include: certain medications; alcohol; certain cancers; critical illnesses such as kidney, liver or heart failure; hormonal deficiencies; and disorders that result in your body producing too much insulin. A rare type of hypoglycemia, known as reactive hypoglycemia, may occur in children and teens without diabetes. Some symptoms of hypoglycemia are caused when the body releases extra adrenaline (epinephrine), a hormone that raises blood sugar levels, into the bloodstream to protect against hypoglycemia. If you take in more glucose than your body needs at the time, your body stores the extra glucose in your liver and muscles in a form called glycogen. Your body can use the stored glucose whenever it is needed for energy between meals. Patients with pre-diabetes who have insulin resistance can also have low sugars on occasion if their high circulating insulin levels are further challenged by a prolonged period of fasting. Hypoglycemia can arise from many causes and can occur at any age. The most common forms of moderate and severe hypoglycemia occur as a complication of treatment of diabetes mellitus with insulin or oral medications. The adrenergic symptoms often precede the neuroglycopenic symptoms and, thus, provide an early warning system for the patient. Studies have shown that the primary stimulus for the release of catecholamines is the absolute level of plasma glucose.
Causes of Hypoglycemia
The common causes and risk factor's of Hypoglycemia include the following:
- Hypoglycemia occurs when too much insulin or oral antidiabetic medication is taken, not enough food is eaten, or from a sudden increase in the amount of exercise without an increase in food intake.
- Renal glycosuria.
- Increased activity or exercise.
- Excessive drinking of alcohol.
- Hypoglycemia may result from medication changes or overdoses, infection, diet changes, metabolic changes over time, or activity changes; however, no acute cause may be found.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
Some sign and symptoms related to Hypoglycemia are as follows:
- Nervousness and shakiness.
- Dizziness or light-headedness.
- Heart palpitations.
- Excessive sweating.
- Sleeping difficulty.
- Cold sweats.
- Rapid heart rate.
- Pale skin color.
- Sudden moodiness or behavior changes, such as crying for no apparent reason.
Treatment of Hypoglycemia
Here is list of the methods for treating Hypoglycemia:
- A snack or drink containing sugar will raise the blood glucose level, and you should see an immediate improvement in symptoms.
- Eating smaller meals more frequently.
- To treat low blood sugar immediately, your child should eat or drink something that has sugar in it, such as orange juice, milk, or a hard candy.
- Regular exercise.
- In more serious cases, the child may have to undergo surgery to remove the pancreas.
- Episodes of reactive and fasting hypoglycemia in children without diabetes can also be treated with a fast-acting carbohydrate.
- Patients may require 6 small meals and 2-3 snacks per day.
- If you pass out, you will need IMMEDIATE treatment, such as an injection of glucagon or emergency treatment in a hospital.