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Hypoglycemia low blood sugar pricking fingerWhat is Hypoglycemia?

Glucose is a necessary source of energy for the human body. When levels of glucose in the blood become too low (below 70mg/dL), the body may not be able to function properly; this condition is known as hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia may be caused when glucose is not released into blood quickly enough or when the body produces more insulin than necessary and uses the sugars too fast. Low blood sugar may also be caused by:

  • the consumption of alcohol
  • skipping meals or not eating enough
  • serious infections
  • insulinoma (a pancreatic tumor which results in excessive insulin production), or genetic diseases which alter insulin production
  • disease of the liver or kidney
  • persons who are diabetic and over-exercise, do not eat meals at regular times, or improperly use insulin (take insulin at a time different than usual or take too much insulin)
  • medicines including beta blockers, pentamidine, or sulfamethoxazold and timethoprim (known as Bactrim or Septra)
The most common symptoms of low blood sugar include:
  • rapid or pounding heartbeats and a quick pulse
  • changes in vision, seeing double, or blurred vision
  • headache
  • insomnia (difficulty sleeping or an inability to sleep)
  • feeling hungry
  • fatigue, drowsiness or weakness
  • agitation, aggressiveness, nervousness and fogginess of the mind
  • increased sweating or shaking and mild muscle spasm
  • sensations of tingling or a numb feeling on the surface of the skin
  • a general ill feeling
More severe cases of hypoglycemia can result in fainting, seizures (convulsions), or loss of consciousness (coma).

How is Hypoglycemia Treated?

Hypoglycemia may be reduced and treated by consuming foods or liquids that are high in carbohydrates or glucose (at least 15g). Persons who are prone to low blood sugar should eat a balanced diet on an even-spaced schedule, avoid missing meals, and increase carbohydrate intake. If the imbalance is caused by medicines, your doctor may require a change in dosage amount or frequency. Hypoglycemia that is unresponsive to treatments may require use of a glucagon injection to be administered at the onset of an extreme episode.

Patients who have a tumor that is causing the condition generally must have the tumor removed for full benefits.