Hypoglycemia

(Low Blood Glucose; Low Blood Sugar)

Definition

Glucose is a type of sugar. It is your body's main source of energy. Hypoglycemia is a condition where the level of glucose in your blood becomes low enough to cause symptoms. When blood glucose drops too low, your body does not have enough energy to function properly.

Causes

Medications for diabetes are the most common cause, particularly when combined with the following factors:
  • Taking too much blood sugar-lowering medication
  • Delaying or missing meals, or eating too little at meals
  • Too much or too strenuous exercise
Reactive hypoglycemia may also occur in people without diabetes. It is thought to be rare.Other causes of hypoglycemia include:
  • Alcohol abuse , especially binge drinking coupled with not eating
  • Starvation
  • Early pregnancy
  • Certain pituitary or adrenal gland conditions
  • Certain liver conditions
  • Kidney disease
  • Certain types of stomach surgery
  • Tumor that makes insulin
  • Hereditary enzyme or hormone deficiencies
  • Severe illness or infection

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of hypoglycemia include:
  • Having diabetes
  • Taking medications that lower blood sugar levels
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Fasting, particularly in combination with strenuous exercise

Symptoms

Symptoms may come on slowly or suddenly. Hypoglycemia may cause:
  • Sweating
  • Nervousness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hunger
  • Headache
  • Tingling feeling around the mouth
As hypoglycemia worsens, it may cause:
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Inappropriate behavior or severe confusion
  • Poor control of movements
  • Seizure
  • Loss of consciousness
If you have frequent hypoglycemia, you may lose many of the early symptoms and be at particular risk of sudden loss of consciousness, seizure, or bizarre behavior. This could affect your ability to operate machinery or a motor vehicle. You will need to discuss any special instructions with your doctor.

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