Signs of Hypoglycemia: What to Watch For
What is Hypoglycemia?
Glucose is the body’s chief energy source. The body needs a continual supply of glucose in order to operate as it should. Hypoglycemia is a condition distinguished by an abnormally low level of blood sugar (glucose levels below 70 mg/dL). When blood glucose levels get too low, it can have various adverse effects on your body.
Hypoglycemia is generally associated with the treatment of diabetes. If too much insulin is taken in relation to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream, it can cause blood glucose levels to fall much too low. Careful monitoring and planning is necessary between doctor and patient in order to find the best insulin dosage based on eating habits and activity level.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
During hypoglycemia, the body initially reacts by releasing epinephrine (adrenalin). This helps first by causing palpitations and tremors, which warns the individual that hypoglycemia is present, and second, by stimulating the liver to release glucose (gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis) to prevent it.
Other Hypoglycemia Signs and Symptoms Include:
• Shakiness, Jittery
• Pale Skin Color
• Tingling Sensation Around the Mouth
Moderate- (glucose levels continue to fall affecting nervous system)
• Restlessness, Mood Changes, Irritability
• Blurred Vision, Dizziness,
• Weakness, Lack of Energy
• Poor Coordination
• Loss of Consciousness
• Low Body Temperature
Reactive Hypoglycemia Symptoms
Reactive hypoglycemia, also called postprandial hyperglycemia, is low blood sugar that results after meals (usually between one to three hours after) because the body makes more insulin than is needed. While this type of hypoglycemia can result in people who have not had surgery, it more commonly results in people who have had gastric bypass surgery.
Symptoms include hunger, weakness, sleepiness, shakiness, lightheadedness, confusion, and anxiety.
Hypoglycemia Symptoms in Children
While the symptoms of hypoglycemia in children are very similar to the hypoglycemia signs in adults, it is important to remember that symptoms may differ from child to child, as well as triggers (strenuous exercise, illnesses, diet, etc.) Education and training become an imperative focal point in keeping children safe who have type 1 diabetes and are at risk of hypoglycemia. Young children and their parents are not as accurate at identifying symptoms and early warning signs of low blood sugar. Therefore, education about risk factors, how to recognize early warning signs, and how to treat low blood sugar, should be given to not only the child and their parents but teachers and other caregivers as well. All caregivers should also be trained on how and when glucose monitoring is required, with equipment available as needed, and an immediate source of glucose should be instantly available at all times. It is also a good idea that children at risk of hypoglycemia wear some sort of identification of their diabetes so that people know how best to help the child, should symptoms arise.
Hypoglycemic unawareness is a condition or state in which the person does not recognize or feel the symptoms of hypoglycemia. This is a dangerous because the person does not know to take action when blood sugar levels drop below a level that is safe. This can be particularly scary when hypoglycemia occurs during sleep, and even during exercise. In addition, a person with hypoglycemic unawareness may not respond quickly to treatment causing hypoglycemia to last longer. Hypoglycemic unawareness occurs more often in people who have frequent low blood glucose episodes or who have had diabetes for a long period of time. It is very important to speak with medical professionals if symptoms are net felt when blood sugar drops to 60 mg/dL or below. Increasing the number of times blood sugar levels are checked each day is one way to provide a safety net for hypoglycemic unawareness.
Summing It Up
Hypoglycemia can be scary! Knowing the signs and symptoms is imperative and can help ensure that things don’t go from bad, to worse. Being well educated on how to monitor blood glucose, recognize signs of low blood sugar, and how to treat an episode quickly and effectively is great way to ensure safety and prevention from the more severe and even life threatening side effects of hypoglycemia.
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