Hypoglycemia is commonly associated with the treatment of diabetes. However, a variety of conditions, many of them rare, can cause low blood sugar in people without diabetes. Like fever, hypoglycemia isn’t a disease itself — it’s an indicator of a health problem.
Your body needs a steady supply of sugar (glucose) in order to function properly. If glucose levels become too low, as occurs with hypoglycemia, it can have these effects on your brain:
1. Confusion, abnormal behavior or both, such as the inability to complete routine tasks
2. Visual disturbances, such as double vision and blurred vision
3. Seizures, though uncommon
4. Loss of consciousness, though uncommon
Hypoglycemia may also cause these other signs and symptoms:
5. Heart palpitations
10. Tingling sensation around the mouth
These signs and symptoms aren’t specific to hypoglycemia. There may be other causes. An intravenous blood sample to test your blood sugar level at the time of these signs and symptoms is the only way to know for sure that hypoglycemia is the cause.
Treatment And Drugs
Treatment of hypoglycemia involves:
Immediate initial treatment to raise your blood sugar level
Treatment of the underlying condition that’s causing your hypoglycemia to prevent it from recurring
1. Immediate initial treatment
The initial treatment depends on your symptoms. Early symptoms can usually be treated by consuming sugar, such as eating candy, drinking fruit juice or taking glucose tablets to raise your blood sugar level. If your symptoms are more severe, impairing your ability to take sugar by mouth, you may need an injection of glucagon or intravenous glucose. If you’re prone to severe episodes of hypoglycemia, ask your doctor if a home glucagon kit might be appropriate for you.
2. Treatment of the underlying condition
Preventing recurrent hypoglycemia requires your doctor to identify the underlying condition and treat it. Depending on the underlying cause, treatment may involve:
3. Medications. If a medication is the cause of your hypoglycemia, your doctor will likely suggest changing the medication or adjusting the dosage.
4. Tumor treatment. A tumor in your pancreas is treated by surgical removal. Nesidioblastosis, enlargement of the pancreatic cells that make insulin, may be treated by partial removal of the pancreas.
1. If you have diabetes, carefully follow the diabetes management plan you and your doctor have developed.
2. If you don’t have diabetes but have recurring episodes of hypoglycemia, eating frequent small meals throughout the day is a stopgap measure to help prevent your blood sugar levels from getting too low. However, this approach isn’t an advisable long-term strategy. Work with your doctor to identity and treat the underlying cause of hypoglycemia.