Hypoglycemia or Low Blood Sugar: Symptoms and Causes

Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when the sugar levels in your blood are too low. It occurs when the level of glucose present in the blood falls below a set point which is 4 mmol/L or 70mg/dL.

Updated: November 27, 2017

Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when the sugar levels in your blood are too low. It occurs when the level of glucose present in the blood falls below a set point which is 4 mmol/L or 70mg/dL.
Taking too much medication, skipping meals, eating less than normal, or exercising more than usual can lead to low blood sugar in people with diabetes. Immediate treatment for low blood sugar levels is important to prevent more serious complications.

Diabetes is a group of diseases in which the body either doesn't produce enough or any insulin,  does not properly use the insulin that is produced, or a combination of both.
Caring for your health will make  your diabetes easier to treat and minimize your risk of developing complications of diabetes. Self care can be done by maintaining good physical and mental health and preventing illness or accidents. You should also be tested  at least once a year to check how well your diabetes is being controlled over the long term. HbA1C test can be conducted once in 3 months to  measures how much glucose is in the red blood cells. Be in regular contact with your diabetes care team for examination of your eyes, feet and nerves which may be affected by diabetes.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia:

The symptoms occur suddenly when you have low sugar level in your blood which include:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • sudden mood changes
  • blurry vision
  • hunger
  • shaking
  • dizziness
  • sudden mood changes
  • sudden nervousness
  • pale skin
  • headache
  • unexplained fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • skin tingling
  • sweating
  • loss of consciousness, seizure, coma
  • trouble thinking clearly or concentrating

Very low blood sugar is a medical emergency. You can faint, experience a seizure, or even go into a coma if not treated immediately. Immediate treatment include eating or drinking 15 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates, such as:

  • half a cup of juice
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 3 or 4 pieces of hard candy or glucose tablets
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 4 or 5 saltine crackers

Glucagon can be given if a person is unconscious or faint because of hypoglycemia.

Causes of Hypoglycemia:

Usually hypoglycemia is a side effect of diabetes treatment.  It can occur for a number of reasons which include:

Diabetes and Hypoglycemia:

Blood sugar is also known as glucose which is an important source of energy for the body that comes from food especially carbohydrates. Glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream and enters the cell when you eat.  Insulin helps your cells use glucose for energy which is made in the pancreas. The excessive glucose in your body will be stored in your liver and muscles or change it into fat so that it can be used for energy when it is needed later.
In a healthy person, the increased insulin have enough glucose to maintain blood sugar levels, and the liver can make glucose if needed. In case of people with diabetes, as it affects the ability your body to use insulin, a variety of treatments are provided to help their bodies use the glucose in their blood. The treatment include taking oral medications or insulin injections which help increase insulin production. If the dose is higher then required, insulin production is more compare to the glucose store in your body resulting in drop of your blood sugar to too low.
Skipping meals, eating less than normal, or eating later than normal but taking your medication at your normal time can also lead to hypoglycemia. Excess physical activity without eating enough can also cause a drop in blood sugar levels. 
Drinking alcohol, especially if it replaces food can also lead to low blood sugar.

Other causes of Hypoglycemia:

Low blood sugar level or hypoglycemia can be experienced without diabetic also. Some other causes of low blood sugar include:

  • certain medications, such as quinine
  • endocrine disorders, such as adrenal gland deficiency
  • a tumor that produces excess insulin
  • some medical conditions, such as hepatitis or kidney disorders


Related Articles

Prevention, Lifestyle and Home Remedies of Lung Cancer

Prevention, Lifestyle and Home Remedies of Lung Cancer

The lungs bring oxygen into the body when breathing in and send carbon dioxide out of the body when breathing out. Lung cancer tends to spread very early after it forms. It is a very life-threatening cancer and one of the most difficult can

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the major cause of mortality globally. Cardiovascular disease caused by disorders of the blood vessels and heart.

Urine Tests for Diabetes: Purpose, Preparation, Procedure and Normal Range

Urine Tests for Diabetes: Purpose, Preparation, Procedure and Normal Range

A urine glucose test is done to check for abnormally high levels of glucose and ketone in the urine.

Stomach Infection: Cause, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Risk Factor

Stomach Infection: Cause, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Risk Factor

Stomach infection also known as bacterial gastroenteritis or stomach flu happens due to infection in your stomach by bacteria resulting in inflammation in your stomach and intestines. Stomach infection or food poisoning can be caused by vir

HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine

HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Vaccine

HPV vaccine prevents infection from human papillomavirus (HPV) types that are associated with many cancers.

Dental floss: Benifits, How it Helps Your Gums, Flossing for Special Dental Condition and Its Type

Dental floss: Benifits, How it Helps Your Gums, Flossing for Special Dental Condition and Its Type

To remove food and dental plaque from areas a toothbrush is unable to reach and between teeth, a cord of thin filaments is used which is known as dental floss.

Diagonisis and Complications of Gallstone

Diagonisis and Complications of Gallstone

As most gallstones doesnot show any symptoms, in many cases, gallstones are discovered by accident when the patient is being treated for something else.

Effective Home Remedies for Appendicitis

Effective Home Remedies for Appendicitis

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix which can be life-threatening if not treated on time.