Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

Symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occur when the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood is lower than usual. Typically your body will regulate the sugar in your blood by using hormones.

Symptoms-of-low-blood-sugarWhen your body detects that the sugar level in the blood is high, the pancreas releases insulin to signal the body to transfer sugar from the blood to the cells.

The body utilizes sugar as its main fuel. When blood sugar levels are low, the brain will signal the release of two hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones signal the liver to convert the stored carbohydrates in he body into glucose and release it into the blood.

Symptoms of mildly low blood sugar may include sweating (especially at the back of the neck).

Other symptoms include nervousness, anxiousness, shakiness, weakness, slight nausea, hunger, dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, and a fast heartbeat.

When your body is moderately low in blood sugar, you may have some behavioural changes. You may experience some personality changes such as being angry or sad. You may also have symptoms like confusion and irritability, unable to concentrate, slurred speech, muscle twitching, and unsteadiness when walking or standing.

When your blood sugar level is severely low, you may have a seizure, be in a coma, have a stroke, and it may even result in death. Prolonged low blood sugar levels can also lead to brain damage.

These symptoms can either appear gradually or appear suddenly and cause the individual some confusion or panic in a short amount of time.

Generally, you will be able to notice the mild symptoms of low blood sugar and it can be reversed when you eat foods that contain sugar.  It is much more difficult to monitor your symptoms of low blood sugar when you are sleeping at night.

It is a good idea to familiarize your partner or family members with symptoms of nocturnal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar at night). Symptoms can include: making unusual noises, restlessness, attempting to get out of bed, restlessness, accidentally rolling out of bed, nightmares, and sweating. You may also have a headache in the morning if your blood sugar was low throughout the night.

Low blood sugar levels

Low blood sugar levels can be caused by medication. This type of hypoglycemia occurs most often in individuals who have diabetes.  Individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can have low blood sugar when too much insulin is administrated in contrast to their diet and exercise.

Another type of hypoglycemia occurs when you haven’t eaten in a while. This is known as fasting hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia occurs after eating, usually when you eat a meal high in carbohydrates, causing the blood sugar levels to rise quickly. The body will then release excess insulin, causing the sugar levels in the blood to drop rapidly.

People may also have this type of hypoglycemia if their body has difficulties digesting galactose and fructose (two types of sugars that are found in food). It can also occur after certain stomach surgeries, which causes the sugars to be absorbed too quickly.

If you experience the above symptoms of low blood sugar but do not have diabetes, it is best to visit your family doctor. Your doctor will take a blood sample to check your blood sugar levels.

If you do have diabetes, your doctor may ask you questions about your medication, your diet, and what activities you have been participating in. If you exercise too much without eating food beforehand, hypoglycemia can occur. It is recommended to not let your blood sugar levels decrease below 4.0 mmol/L or 72mg/dL.

Reference links:

http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/bloodsugarlow.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypoglycemia/DS00198/DSECTION=causes
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/low_blood_sugar_hypoglycemia/article_em.htm

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