Hypoglycemia: Recognizing Causes and Symptoms
Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, is a condition that can affect anyone. Improper nutrition, intense exercise, and even certain medications can lead to this dangerous state. Knowledge about it is crucial for protecting our health.
Definition and Types of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia can manifest in various ways, and its symptoms may vary depending on how low the blood sugar level is. Initial symptoms may include:
- Hunger or nausea
- Abnormal or rapid heartbeat
- Irritability or anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dizziness or fainting
- Tingling or numbness in lips, tongue, or cheeks
As hypoglycemia worsens, additional symptoms may appear:
- Confusion, unusual behavior, or difficulty performing routine tasks
- Loss of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Visual disturbances or tunnel vision
- Nightmares during sleep
In cases of severe hypoglycemia, the following symptoms may occur:
- Unresponsiveness (loss of consciousness)
Causes of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia most commonly occurs as a side effect of medications used in the treatment of diabetes. The main role of insulin is to allow glucose access to cells and provide the fuel they need. Excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When blood sugar levels drop, the body stops producing insulin, and another hormone called glucagon signals the liver to break down stored glycogen and release glucose into the bloodstream. This maintains blood sugar levels until you eat again. The body also has the ability to produce glucose, primarily in the liver but also in the kidneys.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
If you have diabetes, it may happen that you either don't produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or are less sensitive to it (type 2 diabetes). As a result, glucose accumulates in the bloodstream and can reach dangerously high levels. To correct this issue, you may take insulin or other blood sugar-lowering medications. However, taking too much insulin or diabetes medications can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low, resulting in hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can also occur if you eat less than usual after taking your regular dose of diabetes medication or if you exercise more than usual. Hypoglycemia in non-diabetic individuals is much rarer. It can be caused by various factors, such as:
- Medications: Accidentally taking someone else's oral diabetes medication can cause hypoglycemia. Other medications can also cause hypoglycemia, especially in children or individuals with kidney failure. An example is quinine (Qualaquin), used to treat malaria.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Heavy drinking without eating can prevent the liver from releasing glucose from its glycogen reserves into the bloodstream, leading to hypoglycemia.
Dealing with Hypoglycemia
If you notice symptoms of hypoglycemia, it is important to take immediate action. The simplest way to raise blood sugar levels is to consume a sweet drink or food. In case of more severe symptoms, seeking medical assistance may be necessary. Here are a few tips on how to deal with this condition:
- If your blood sugar level drops below 55-69 mg/dL, you can raise it by following the 15-15 rule: consume 15 grams of carbohydrates, then check your blood sugar level after 15 minutes. If the blood sugar level is still too low, repeat the process.
- Examples of products that contain approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates are: 120 ml (1/2 cup) of juice or regular cola, 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or syrup.
Hypoglycemia is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment. Knowledge about the causes and symptoms of hypoglycemia is crucial for prompt response and prevention of serious health consequences. Remember that if you have any questions or concerns about your blood sugar level, you should always consult a healthcare professional.
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- Daughaday WH. Hypoglycemia due to paraneoplastic secretion of insulin-like growth factor-I. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 May;92(5):1616
And short story about LEET DIET
As a choreographer and aerial gymnast, I had always been interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Diets had been my hobby, but I never truly enjoyed them until I discovered the Keto diet. After reading numerous books about how our bodies work and the benefits of a high-fat, low-carb diet, I decided to give it a try. I never looked back. The Keto lifestyle quickly became my passion, and I began experimenting with new recipes and meal plans. That's when I decided to share my knowledge with the world and created Leet Diet, a website filled with delicious Keto-friendly recipes and helpful tips for anyone looking to adopt a healthy lifestyle.