Hypoglycemia, a medical condition characterized by abnormally low glucose levels in the body, is commonly associated with diabetes, although non-diabetics may also experience this. The normal blood sugar level ranges from 70 to 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) before breakfast as glucose levels may rise after breakfast, depending on diet. When blood sugar level dips below 60 mg/dL, symptoms of hypoglycemia begin to manifest. At levels below 50 mg/dL, brain function may be impaired. A glucose meter can be used to check blood sugar level.
Glucose is the main energy source of the body. It comes from breaking down carbohydrates from food into smaller molecules. Glucose is directly absorbed into the bloodstream and enters the body’s cells. When a person skips meals, insulin is still released, therefore glucose is still removed from blood, thus lowering glucose levels in the blood.
Majority of cases of hypoglycemia befall in adults with diabetes mellitus. There are many causes for hypoglycemia. Some of the common causes include the following:
- Skipping meals
- Overmedication with insulin or other antidiabetic medications (for diabetics)
- Certain medications non related to diabetes
- Severe infection
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Congenital, genetic defects
- Alcohol abuse
It is important to recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia in order to administer proper treatment right away. The following symptoms may go away almost instantaneously after eating sugary foods.
- Trembling and weakness
- Extreme hunger
- Blurred vision
- Dizziness and headache
If symptoms are untreated and continue to drop below 40 mg/dL, behavior may begin to change. These are characterized by:
- Having a hard time to concentrate
- Slurred speech
- Incapability to stalk or walk properly
- Twitching muscles
- Mood swings
Severe cases of hypoglycemia, which are defined by low blood sugar levels of below 20 mg/dL include:
Hypoglycemia is diagnosed in accordance of presence of the three key features, also known as Whipple’s triad. These include:
- Symptoms consistent with hypoglycemia,
- Low plasma glucose concentration, and
- Alleviation of symptoms after raising plasma glucose levels
Hypoglycemia is treated by restoring blood glucose levels to normal. This can be done quickly and easily by the following steps. Though these hints should not serve as medical advice, nor should replace first aid and CPR courses.
- Eat 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates. Some of these examples include:
- Twelve gummy bears
- One tablespoon sugar in water
- Half cup of apple juice, orange juice, regular soda, fat free milk, etc.
- One small apple, orange, etc.
- If there is an underlying cause, treatment will be given for this.
Low blood sugar levels in the body should be treated immediately to prevent further decrease of glucose levels. It is highly recommended for diabetics and those who live with diabetics to take first aid training and CPR courses, in cases hypoglycemia and other diabetes-related emergencies may occur.