What is Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia?

Low blood glucose or hypoglycemia is considered a condition wherein the body is affected by an abnormally low levels of glucose or blood sugar. Glucose is the primary source of energy for the human body. Low blood glucose or hypoglycemia has a long relation with the diabetes treatment. There are numerous other conditions that might cause a drastic drop in the blood sugar/glucose level even in people who do not have diabetes. Low blood glucose or hypoglycemia is indicative of an underlying disease in the human body.

What is Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia?

What Should You Eat When Your Blood Sugar/Glucose is Low?

The low blood glucose or hypoglycemia in the blood can lead to a serious medical situation. Therefore, you should help the patient to consume 15 gms of carbohydrate that can be digested in an easy and hassle free manner. Generally honey and soda can be the best sources to increase the low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.

Is Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia a Disease?

The answer is No. Low blood glucose or hypoglycemia is considered as an indication of an underlying health problem.

What Causes Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia?

Low blood glucose or hypoglycemia is caused in the body when the level of the sugar in the blood is low. It is caused due to the side effects of the drug used in treating instances of diabetes. In order to treat low blood glucose or hypoglycemia, it is vital to understand the regulation of the sugar level along with absorption as well as storage.

Regulation of the Blood Sugar in the Human Body

When the food undergoes digestion, the carbohydrates are separated from a food sources such as milk products, pasta, vegetables, bread along with rice and fruits. It is converted into sugar molecules which includes glucose which is regarded as the primary sources of energy. Glucose makes its way into the blood but cannot find entry into the cells. It is only accomplished using insulin which is secreted by the organ called pancreas.

As the glucose level goes up, it prompts pancreas to release insulin in order to control the level. They are situated behind stomach and help in the unlocking of cells so that glucose can find the way inside. It goes a long way in providing energy to the body and enhances the cell functions to a great extent. Additional glucose is confined to the liver as well as muscles to accomplish the task.

As a result, the level of glucose in the blood decreases and does not cause problems to the patients. Once the level is restored to normal parameters, the quantity of insulin also decreases.

People who have not consumed food for long period of time might witness a drop in the level of the sugar in the blood. Therefore, a hormone called glucagon send notifications to the liver to break the stored glycogen so that it could be pushed into the blood. As a result, the level of the sugar is kept under control until you have your next lunch and dinner.

Apart from the liver, the body also can generate glucose with the help of the procedure called gluconeogenesis. It not only occurs in the liver but also in kidneys by using various substances that act as ingredients for glucose.

Causes of Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia in Patients with Diabetes

People suffering from diabetes do not get affected by the increased insulin levels in the body. In short, the cells do not respond in an effective manner. Enhancement of glucose in the blood occurs over a period of time and could reach to life-threatening levels. Insulin or some other drugs are consumed to overcome this problem. They help to lower the level of the sugar in the blood.

Consumption of a large amount of insulin with respect to the sugar could lead to a steep drop in the level. It might cause the problem of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia. It can also manifest in the body if the diabetic patient is not having enough food as compared to the medicines consumed on a daily basis. Doctors may work in close collaboration with the patients to create suitable dosage of medications according to the diet and also to the activity level.

Causes of Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia in Patients without Diabetes

There are different causes for low blood glucose or hypoglycemia in patients without diabetes:

  • Medicines Can Cause Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia: Sometimes people might accidentally consume others diabetic medications and this can result in low blood glucose or hypoglycemia. Low blood glucose or hypoglycemia can also be caused by different medicines for kids as well as people suffering from the failure of kidneys. An example would be Quinine medicine which is used to treat malaria can also cause the problem in the form of side effect.
  • Excessive Consumption of Alcohol Can Cause Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia: If you are drinking a lot without having any food, the liver might not be able to release the glucose into the blood stream resulting in the low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.
  • Severe Conditions Like Hepatitis or Kidney Problems Can Cause Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia: Instances of hepatitis could prove to be one of the reasons causing low blood glucose or hypoglycemia. Sometimes, if the kidney is defective, it cannot secret proper hormones for the production of glucose. Medications may build up in the body resulting in the problem. Due to the starvation for a longer period of time, people can suffer from anorexia nervosa that can also cause the elimination of the substances. As a result, the patients might get affected by hypoglycemia.
  • Another Cause is Overproduction of Insulin: If the tumor occurs in the pancreas, it might result in the generation of extra insulin. The problem may snowball into low blood glucose or hypoglycemia. Some tumors may also cause the increase in the level of insulin. When the size of the beta cells of the pancreas increases, it might result in the additional production of insulin. Therefore, the people may suffer from low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.
  • Hormonal Deficiency Can Cause Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia: If adrenalin along with pituitary glands are defective, it might result in the reduced secretion of the hormones. Therefore, production of the glucose is affected which also causes the problem of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia. Kids are especially vulnerable to the disorders as compared to the adults.

Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia after Consumption of Meals

People consuming less food could get affected by low blood glucose or hypoglycemia but sometimes the problem may occur due to other reasons. In few instances, the problem of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia manifests itself after the completion of the meal because excess insulin is produced.

People undergoing stomach surgery may get affected by postprandial low blood glucose or hypoglycemia. In some cases, individuals with no record of surgery can also suffer from low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.

Signs and Symptoms of Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia

The human body needs a consistent supply of glucose in order to function effectively. If the levels of glucose becomes low (low blood glucose or hypoglycemia) the following signs and symptoms are observed:

Sugar is required for the body to get energy and enhance the functions of the body cells. Some of the symptoms are as follows:

  • Palpitations of the heart.
  • Fatigue in the body can be a symptom of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.
  • Skin becomes pale
  • Shakiness in the body is also a sign of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.
  • Anxiety in mind
  • A major symptom of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia is excessive sweating .
  • Hunger pangs.
  • Irritability of skin.
  • Tingling sensation in close vicinity of the mouth.
  • Crying while sleeping.

Worsening signs and symptoms of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia are as follows:

  • Incapable of performing daily chores accompanied by confusion is a major symptom of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.
  • Instances of blurred vision is also a sign of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.
  • Instances of seizures.
  • dizziness.

People suffering from the problem of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia seem to be in an inebriated state. Slurring of speech and awkward movement are some of the symptoms,

Different conditions might cause similar symptoms. Blood sugar test should be conducted to check the level and find the problem of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia.

When to Consult a doctor for Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia?

Contact the doctor if:

  • Low blood glucose or hypoglycemia symptoms are manifested in the body without diabetes.
  • A diabetic patient suffering from low blood glucose or hypoglycemia is not recovering in spite of taking medications, consumption of juice along with soft drinks are unable to increase the level of sugar in the blood. It is important to contact the doctor in case of emergency.

Doctor may as lots of questions regarding low blood glucose or hypoglycemia which are as follows:

  • Identification of the signs along with symptoms.
  • The timing of occurrence?
  • What is the trigger causing symptoms?
  • Are you suffering from another disease?
  • History of medications consumed by the individual
  • What is the regular diet?
  • Are you alcoholic?
  • Do you do exercises?

Contact emergency care if:

People already suffering from low blood glucose or hypoglycemia feel, dizziness and lose consciousness

Tests to Diagnose Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia

Whipples’ triad test is used by the doctors to detect the problem of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia. Some of the factors are as follows:

  • Testing the Signs and Symptoms of Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia: Sometimes, the symptoms are not manifested in the body when you are visiting the doctor for the first time. The physician may advise fasting for some time. As a result, the low blood glucose or hypoglycemia symptoms might be visible in the body for correct diagnosis of low blood glucose or hypoglycemia. Patients might have to fast for a longer period of time to get the desired results. Symptoms can also manifest themselves after a meal. Therefore, it is vital to check the glucose level.
  • Noting the Low Blood Glucose or Hypoglycemia When the Signs and Symptoms Appear: The blood sample would be taken for diagnosis.
  • Observing the Disappearance of Symptoms: After increasing the glucose level, signs along with symptoms are analyzed and whether they disappeared or not.

Doctors also analyze the patient history in detail and also the medications taken in the past.

Also Read:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: August 30, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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