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What is Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia, (pronounced hy-po-gly-ce-mi-a), is a condition of having low blood sugar. It occurs when your blood sugar level drops too low to provide enough energy for your body's activities.

Why does the Blood Sugar level drop?

When you eat food, your blood sugar level increases. In normal circumstances, if your blood glucose level increases, the pancreas will stabilize your blood level by secreting insulin into your bloodstream. In people with hypoglycemia, the pancreas secretes too much insulin and too much glucose is taken out of the bloodstream.

The extra glucose in your liver and muscles in a form called glycogen. Your body will use the stored glucose whenever it is needed for energy between meals. Extra glucose can also be converted to fat and stored in fat cells.

What is Glucose?

Glucose is a type of sugar that is an important fuel for your body. Carbohydrates are the main dietary sources of glucose. Rice, potatoes, bread, tortillas, cereal, milk, fruit, and sweets are all carbohydrate-rich foods.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

The most common symptoms of hypoglycemia are:

  • hunger
  • nervousness and shakiness
  • perspiration
  • dizziness
  • light-headedness
  • sleepiness
  • confusion
  • difficulty speaking
  • feeling anxious or weak

Causes of Hypoglycemia

Diabetes and Hypoglycemia

Diabetes can be a factor in causing hypoglycemia. In non diabetics, when your blood sugar level decreases, the pancreas will break down glycogen to produce glucose. In diabetics, the glucagon may not be broken down thus, making it harder for your glucose levels to return to the normal range.

How common is Hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia is uncommon in adults or children older than 10 years. However, it can result in adults or children older than 10 years if the person has diabetes.

Can Hypoglycemia be prevented?

If you have diabetes, you can help prevent hypoglycemia by asking your doctor if your medication will cause hypoglycemia and take your medications and insulin as directed by your doctor.

If you do not have diabetes, you can help prevent hypoglycemia by:

  • Eat regular meals, have enough food at each meal, and try not to skip meals or snacks.
  • Lower the amount of alcoholic beverages that you consume. (Drinking on an empty stomach can cause hypoglycemia)

Treatment options for Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia can be controlled with medication, exercise, and changes in diet. Your doctor will advise you on how to control it.

Complications of Hypoglycemia

In severe cases of hypoglycemia, a person may pass out.

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