Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is a common issue in some individuals. It often affects infants and the elderly but can occur at any age. Essentially, hypoglycemia occurs if the serum glucose level drops below 70 mg/dL.

The indications of hypoglycemia usually manifest at levels below 60 mg/dL. Some can experience the symptoms above this level. If the level drops below 50 mg/dL, it can affect the functioning of the brain.

What are the causes?

Hypoglycemia

The indications of hypoglycemia usually manifest at levels below 60 mg/dL.

The usual causes of hypoglycemia include the following:

  • Excess use of insulin or anti-diabetic medications
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Using medications such as beta blockers, sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim and pentamidine
  • Skipping meals
  • Severe infection
  • Reactive hypoglycemia occurs from delayed release of insulin after a meal was absorbed and occurs 4-6 hours after a meal
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Cancer that causes poor oral intake or those that involve the liver
  • Kidney and liver failure
  • Congenital or genetic flaws in the control of insulin release
  • Congenital conditions linked with increased release of insulin.
  • Insulin-producing tumor

What are the indications of hypoglycemia?

It is important to note that epinephrine is one of the main hormones released during hypoglycemia. This is responsible for triggering the initial symptoms.

Common symptoms

  • Clammy skin
  • Trembling
  • Anxiety
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Hunger

Once the brain is still deprived of glucose, the late symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Over time, after significant loss of consciousness or coma, death is likely to occur. It is important to note that with chronic or repeated episodes of hypoglycemia, the body could no longer respond as readily, thus an individual might have mild symptoms or even no significant indications. In addition, noting down the blood glucose level is vital in confirming a diagnosis along with further testing to establish the specific cause if not known.

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