Hypoglycemia Symptoms

Here some information on hypoglycemia, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Hypoglycemia is a disorder of the blood sugar. The prefix "hypo" means low, so hypoglycemia is abnormally low blood sugar. This occurs when the blood does not regulate the glucose level properly. There is also hyperglycemia, which goes by the name diabetes. It's common to have hypoglycemia as an "illness" in itself, but many diabetics also suffer from it from time to time, depending on their insulin intake.

This disorder has many different forms and can start at any time in life (some people are born with it; others discover or "catch" it later). It may also be related to other disorders, or it may occur on its own. It may be chronic, or it may only occur infrequently and randomly. Stress may cause it to start, or an infection. It may also be the result of bad eating habits or drug usage (legal drugs).

Normal blood sugar is anywhere from 80 mg/dl to 120 mg/dl. Above or below this range may cause problems. There are many symptoms one may experience when a dip in blood sugar occurs. They include fatigue, vertigo (dizziness), mood changes, anxiety, trembling hands, concentration/attention disorders, visual disturbances, memory problems, sudden sweating, constant feeling of hunger, sleep problems, nightmares, yeast infections, headache, menstruation disorders, or intestinal disorders. Any or all of these may be experienced. The most common are feelings of hunger, fatigue, and vertigo - these are among the first symptoms one may experience when a drop occurs.

There are different levels of hypoglycemia, and they are progressive, if not treated (per occurrence). In mild hypoglycemia, one may experience grouchiness, shaking, sweating, increased heart rate, pale skin, dizziness, and yawning. In case of a mild hypoglycemic episode, eat as soon as possible. Anything containing glucose, such as fruit or juice, would be good.

In moderate hypoglycemia, one may experience confusion, poor concentration, inability to cooperate, and slurred speech.

In severe hypoglycemia, the person is unconscious and possibly convulsing. Immediately call an ambulance.

No matter what stage hypoglycemia is in, the patient may not experience all of these symptoms, and may experience different ones. Some people have trouble telling when their blood sugar is getting low - mainly in the case of diabetics whose insulin dosage needs adjusting, or those with a chronic case (this is rare). Also, one may experience hypoglycemic symptoms while their blood sugar is still within the normal range. In this case, they should eat anyway.

It is important to know that hypoglycemia or its symptoms may be attributed to a number of other disorders, so one should go to the doctor if there are even relatively frequent episodes. Hypoglycemia may be the result of a metabolic disease, a hormonal disease, or a liver disease. The symptoms may also be similar to several other disorders, so one should always go to the doctor for a diagnosis, since complications could arise.

Diagnosis is a fairly complicated procedure in some cases. There are a number of tests that can be used, but not all of them are completely accurate. It may not catch a true hypoglycemic case or vice versa. The most accurate test is the six-hour glucose tolerance test (GTT). This includes a patient drinking a special concentrated glucose formula and tracking their blood sugar for six hours. Insulin levels may also be tracked. Many hypoglycemics don't experience symptoms until the fourth or fifth hour, which is why the six-hour test is used. Previously, it was more common to use the two-hour version of the test. A doctor may also examine a patient's food diary, to check what s/he was eating and at what times of day (hypoglycemia is common is the early hours of the morning, either while sleeping or upon waking up, especially if one did not eat properly the night before). Another method of diagnosis is to switch to a hypoglycemic diet and see if the symptoms improve. If they do, hypoglycemia is likely. There are also some alternative medicine ways to diagnose it, which as less common.

Hypoglycemia is usually easy to treat. Most often patients will begin with a diet designed to help regulate their blood sugar - generally this means reducing carbohydrates, especially sugars. Eating will generally be more spaced out through the day and in smaller portions, rather than three larger meals. Hypoglycemics may also be advised to get appropriate exercise and avoid excess stress (as this can worsen or even cause symptoms). They may also avoid certain drugs that influence blood sugar or take nutritional supplements.

It's best to avoid all sugar, or to eat small amounts with regular food, rather than as a separate course. Skipping meals is not at all recommended. One should also eat later at night (snack if necessary) in order to avoid problems from occurring with the blood sugar before morning. In some cases, if sugar is the last thing eaten before bed, the blood sugar will spike, then plummet, and continue falling. It will be in a dangerous range by morning, due to several hours without eating and the body's natural "slowing" while asleep. If one should experience a feeling of faintness, dizziness, and blurring vision upon waking up (vision is related to vertigo and fainting sensation), one should drink fruit juice or any other glucose-filled liquid as soon as possible. The episode should be mainly cleared up within five or ten minutes. If it lasts for an extended period of time, a trip to the doctor is in order.

This disorder is one that's generally easily controlled and may allow the patient to live symptom-free for months or even years. It's crucial to get a diagnosis and stick to a loose diet, and to make sure there aren't any complications involved with the hypoglycemia. Other than that, it's possible to live a very normal life.

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