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Hypoglycemia: Why It is Harmful to Diabetics?

Hypoglycemia: Why It is Harmful to Diabetics?

Blood glucose levels refers to the amount of glucose a person has in their bloodstream. Glucose refers to the main type of sugar in the blood that is responsible for gaining energy and can change depending on your lifestyle. But what happens when your blood sugar levels decrease?

Also known as low blood sugar, hypoglycemia occurs when the glucose levels drop below the normal healthy range of 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). Blood sugar levels will vary depending on your age and time of day, so it is best to consult with a doctor regarding your personal healthy blood sugar range and what level is too low for you.

When low blood sugar goes untreated, it could become dangerous, so it is best to get hypoglycemia treatment once you see the first signs of low blood sugar or when tested with a glucose meter.

How is Hypoglycemia Caused?

Hypoglycemia is common to people who have type 1 diabetes and may occur to people with type 2 diabetes who are taking insulin or certain medications. Someone with type 1 diabetes may go through hypoglycemia around twice a week, but the number would likely increase if we counted episodes without symptoms.

Though it is common among diabetics, hypoglycemia can happen even in people who do not have diabetes. Though it is uncommon, it occurs to those who do not stabilize their sugar levels and have experienced an imbalance in their lifestyle.

In short, this condition can be caused by a variety of factors including diabetes, certain diabetic medications, eating disorders, increased alcohol intake and pregnancy. Hypoglycemia can also be caused by organ failure, specifically of the liver, kidneys, or the heart.

Hypoglycemic and Hyperglycemic Episodes: How Are They Different?

Why is it Harmful to Diabetics?

Hypoglycemia can become a side effect of insulin or other types of medications used for aiding people to produce more insulin in the body. Sulfonylureas and meglitinides are kinds of medication that may cause blood sugar levels to decline. You may ask your doctor if your diabetes medication has the possibility to cause hypoglycemia.

However, other types of diabetes medicines like insulin do not directly cause glucose levels to lower on their own, they can increase the chances of hypoglycemia.

Everyone has a different reaction to low blood sugar, so it is necessary to familiarize yourself with your own signs and symptoms. The following include common to sever indicators of hypoglycemia:

  • Feeling of sudden nervousness
  • Sweating or clammy skin
  • Irritability
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy or nauseous
  • Hunger
  • Skin turning pale
  • Loss of energy
  • Sudden tingling sensation of the lips or cheeks

When hypoglycemia becomes severe, the symptoms may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Coordination problems and being unable to concentrate
  • Nightmares or crying out during sleep
  • Seizures

The only sure way to know whether you are experiencing low blood sugar is to check your blood sugar, if possible. Though if a person experiences hypoglycemic episodes often, they may stop displaying symptoms. This is condition is known as hypoglycemia unawareness.

What are the Risk Factors?

The following people have a greater chance of getting hypoglycemia, including:

  • People taking insulin or insulin shots
  • Persons who use oral diabetes medication like sulfonylureas
  • Those with liver or kidney failure
  • People who have had diabetes for an extended period of time
  • Others who don’t experience hypoglycemic symptoms (hypoglycemia unawareness)
  • People who take multiple medications
  • People with disabilities that may prevent a faster response to lowered blood sugar
  • Persons who have an increased alcohol intake

What are the Possible Complications?

Being unaware of its symptoms or refusal of immediate hypoglycemia treatment may become deadly or even become fatal. The brain is in constant in need of glucose to function, so having low blood sugar levels may cause:

  • Seizures
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Death

Note that you must familiarize yourself with your own early symptoms. Hypoglycemia can increase the risk of grave, if not, deadly, mishaps.

How to Deal with Low Blood Sugar

Here are ways to be prepared and deal with hypoglycemia:

Monitor and treat your blood sugar early. Monitor and check your blood sugar often to treat it as soon as possible symptoms arise. If you have had hypoglycemia for a long time now, you may not notice its symptoms until it becomes severe. Carefully monitoring will make sure that your glucose levels are within your doctor’s recommended target range.

Never skip meals or delay snacks. You need to be consistent with what you eat and when you consume meals, especially when you are taking insulin or other types of diabetic medication.

Take medicine on time. Take medication as prescribed by your doctor if you are ingesting diabetes medicine.

Adjust your medication and food intake according to your physical activities. Balancing how much you consume with the type and length of your activities will aid in lessening the frequency of hypoglycemia.

Eat something while ingesting alcohol. Drinking alcohol can cause delayed hypoglycemia hours later, making blood sugar monitoring even more necessary.

Record your blood sugar levels. This will aid not only yourself, but as well as your doctor identify patterns that cause hypoglycemic episodes and find ways to prevent them.

How To Treat Hypoglycemia

If you have possible symptoms, here are possible hypoglycemia treatment methods:

Consume small amounts of fast-acting carbohydrates. These are sugary food that are quickly converted into sugar in the body. These include glucose tablets, fruit juice, honey, and sugary candy.

Recheck blood sugar levels 15 minutes after treatment. If blood sugar levels are still under your target range, eat or drink more sugary food, then check your blood sugar levels again after 15 minutes. Repeat this until your blood sugar level is back to its usual target range.

Have a snack or meal. Once it turns back to normal, go eat a something that can help stabilize and replenish your body’s sugar.

For severe hypoglycemia, you may need someone to help you recover or take a glucagon injection from a glucagon kit. When there is no glucagon kit available, call for emergency medical assistance.

Key Takeaways

Hypoglycemia is a condition common to diabetics that, whether mild or severe, should not be ignored. When early signs of low blood sugar appear, do not hesitate to contact a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment. When left untreated, it could lead to fatigue, fainting or even death.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Angeli Rosario Updated Apr 01
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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