Low Blood Sugar

What is it?
Hypoglycemia just means that you have low blood sugar. The body needs sugar to give you energy. When there is not enough sugar in your body, you may feel "not quite right."

The Symptoms
Typical symptoms include sweating, nervousness, inability to concentrate, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, blurred vision, weakness, fatigue, headache, irritability, hunger, abdominal pain, sudden drowsiness, confusion, and tingling or numbness of the mouth, hands or body. Severe hypoglycemia can result in convulsions and unconsciousness (coma). If you have a combination of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about being tested for hypoglycemia. Of course, other conditions could cause you to have some of the same symptoms, so it is possible that you are not suffering from low blood sugar.

The Causes
Hypoglycemia is itself a symptom, not a disease. Doctors will often diagnose hypoglycemia without determining the source of the problem. Hypoglycemia most often occurs in people who are taking insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs. In some rare cases, hypoglycemia can result from liver or kidney disease, drug reactions, too much alcohol, or malnutrition. Hormonal imbalances may also cause hypoglycemia. No matter what the cause, it is important that the diagnosis of hypoglycemia not be an end in and of itself. Rather, the root cause must be determined so you can receive proper treatment.

The long-term treatment for hypoglycemia will depend on the underlying cause. However, there are some immediate treatments that one should use to avoid the worsening of the symptoms. It would seem that if your body was just missing sugar, then if you ate something sweet, your body would be happy. However, small, frequent (like six times a day) meals of complex carbohydrates will work much better than sugars. Sweets are a quick fix, if you feel the previously mentioned symptoms coming on. If the symptoms continue and you do not eat anything, fainting can result. What goes up quickly also drops again quickly, so sugars should not be relied on, except in an emergency. Small, frequent, carbohydrate-rich meals are your best defense against low blood sugar levels and its consequences. If symptoms are severe and do not improve even after you have eaten something, go to the nearest emergency room, preferably with an escort.

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