Hypoglycemia is a condition caused by a very low level of blood sugar (glucose). Hypoglycemia is often related to the treatment of diabetes. However, a variety of conditions can cause low blood sugar in people without diabetes. Hypoglycemia is not a disease, but it can indicate a health problem.
All the body's cells, including the brain, need energy to function. Glucose supplies energy to the body. Insulin, a hormone, enables the cells to absorb and use it.
Signs of low blood sugar include hunger, trembling, heart racing, nausea, and sweating. In severe cases, it can lead to coma and death.
Hypoglycemia can occur with several conditions, but it most commonly happens as a reaction to medications, such as insulin. People with diabetes use insulin to treat high blood sugar.
People having mild hypoglycemia may having the following symptoms:
· shaking and tremor or trembling
· a pale face
· heart palpitations
· rapid or irregular heart rate
· dizziness and weakness
· blurred vision
Severe hypoglycemia may involve:
· weakness and tiredness
· poor concentration
· irritability and nervousness
· irrational or argumentative behavior and personality changes
· tingling in the mouth
If a person does not take action, they may have:
· difficulty eating or drinking
· a loss of consciousness
Severe hypoglycemia can be life-threatening.
A person who regularly experiences hypoglycemia may become unaware that it is happening or getting worse. They will not notice the warning signs, and this can lead to severe and possibly fatal complications.
Hypoglycemia can occur for various reasons.
Blood sugar regulation
The digestive system breaks down carbohydrates from food. One of the molecules this creates is glucose, the body's main source of energy.
Glucose enters the bloodstream after we eat. However, glucose needs insulin a hormone that the pancreas produces before it can enter a cell. In other words, even if there is plenty of glucose available, a cell will starve of energy if there is no insulin.
After eating, the pancreas automatically releases the right amount of insulin to move the glucose in blood into the cells. As glucose enters the cells, the blood sugar levels fall.
Any extra glucose goes into the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen, or stored glucose. The body can use this glucose later when it needs more energy.