Among those who have diabetes, hypoglycemia is an issue of concern. Once the level of blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dL, it is called as hypoglycemia. The medical way to spot hypoglycemia is to test the blood sugar but the indications can signal that the level is too low.
Early and hasty identification of these symptoms is vital since hypoglycemia can trigger seizures or even induce a coma if not treated. If the individual has a history of low blood sugar episode, he/she might not feel the symptoms which is called as hypoglycemic unawareness.
What are the causes?
Proper control of the blood sugar level involves a balanced diet, medications and exercise.
Several diabetic medications are often the cause for hypoglycemia particularly those that increase the production of insulin. Aside from insulin, medications capable of causing hypoglycemia include glimepiride, repaglinide and glipizide.
Some of the usual causes for low blood sugar include the following:
- Engaging in more exercise than usual
- Skipping on a meal or eating less than usual
- Consumption of alcohol without any food
- Using more medications than the recommended dosage
Those who have diabetes are not the only ones at risk for low blood sugar. Individuals with severe infections, weight-loss surgery patients or those who have a cortisol or thyroid hormone deficiency can also end up with hypoglycemia.
What are the indications of hypoglycemia?
Each individual is affected in a different manner. If the individual is aware of his/her symptoms, an episode can be treated promptly. The common symptoms include the following:
- Feeling faint
- Rapid heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Sweating, clamminess or chills
- Abrupt changes in the mood
- Loss of consciousness
Once an individual is suspected of experiencing an episode, check his/her blood sugar right away and seek treatment if needed.
The treatment for hypoglycemia usually depends on the severity of the symptoms. In case of minor or moderate symptoms, you can provide the appropriate measures. An initial step is to provide food that contains approximately 15 grams of glucose or provide food that contains carbohydrates. The suitable snacks include hard candy, milk, fruit juice, glucose gel or tablets, regular soda and plain honey or sugar.
Wait for about 15 minutes and check the blood sugar level. If it is 70 mg /dL or higher, the episode has been treated. If it remains lower than 70 mg/dL, provide another snack to increase the level. Wait for another 15 minutes and check the level again.
When the blood sugar level is up, the individual should eat a small snack or meal if not going to eat within the next hour. In case the blood sugar level remains low, you have to call for emergency assistance or bring the individual to the nearest emergency department.