Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is when your blood glucose levels fall below the standard range (below 70 mg/dl). Glucose is the primary energy source of our body. As a result, when blood glucose level falls excessively, it causes various problems. What causes low blood sugar can be attributed to many reasons, such as diabetic medicines or fasting for a long time. Immediate treatment is required when blood sugar falls below the standard range. For most people, a sugar level of 70 mg/dl can be considered an alert for low blood sugar. The treatment of hypoglycemia includes getting the sugar back to normal range either through medicines or a high sugar content food or drink.
Low Sugar Symptoms
If your blood sugar levels fall beyond the normal range, you might experience the following symptoms:
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive hunger
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Pale look
- Trouble concentrating
- A tingling sensation or numbness in tongue, lips, or cheeks
If your hypoglycemia becomes worse, you might experience the following low sugar symptoms:
- Unusual behaviour like mental confusion might make it difficult to perform routine tasks
- Slurred speech
- Blurry or tunnel vision
- Difficulty in coordination
Severe low sugar symptoms might include:
- Loss of consciousness
What Causes Low Blood Sugar?
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is when your blood sugar level falls excessively, making you unable to carry out daily activities. There are several causes of low blood sugar, but the most common cause of hypoglycemia is the side effect of medicines to control diabetes. The following are the answers to your question about what causes low blood sugar:
- Insulin and medicine overdose: Diabetic patients are given insulin and oral medicines for insulin production. Sometimes, an overdose of these medications might lead to low blood sugar levels. Certain medications might also lead to hypoglycemia in children and people with renal failure. Quinine used to treat malaria might lead to hypoglycemia. There were instances when non-diabetic people had diabetic medicine accidentally, resulting in a sudden drop in sugar levels.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: If you drink excessive alcohol without eating properly, your liver cannot release glucose from the blood’s glycogen store. This could lead to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
- Critical illnesses: Certain critical illnesses like cirrhosis, hepatitis, kidney disease, heart disease, and severe infections can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. When suffering from kidney diseases, diabetes medicines are not properly excreted from a person’s body. As a result, glucose levels are affected because of the buildup of sugar-lowering medications in the blood. Critically ill people should regularly have their blood sugar monitored.
- Starvation: Malnutrition and lack of food can lead to hypoglycemia. When the body’s glycogen store is used-up, the sugar level falls excessively. Not eating enough carbs might also reduce sugar levels. Many people fast for lengthy hours for dieting or as part of a ritual. This could lead to a sudden fall in sugar levels. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder when the patient suffers from starvation and low blood sugar levels.
- Insulin overproduction: A pancreatic tumour called insulinoma causes too much insulin production, leading to hypoglycemia. There are other tumours, like neuroendocrine ones, that cause overproduction of insulin-like substances. Unusual cells in the pancreas might release excessive insulin, leading to hypoglycemia.
- Hormone deficiencies: Sometimes, a pituitary or adrenal gland tumour reduces certain hormones that regulate metabolism and glucose levels.
- Postprandial hypoglycemia: You must be aware that low blood sugar usually occurs when a person doesn’t eat properly or starve for lengthy hours. But sometimes, sugar levels might fall after consuming certain food items. This condition is known as postprandial hypoglycemia or reactive hypoglycemia. This condition occurs in people who had surgeries that interfere with the normal functioning of the stomach. The surgery that usually leads to this kind of condition is bypass surgery.
You should be aware of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar to avoid any severe circumstances. Awareness and education can save the lives of many people who suffer from hypoglycemia. The most common symptoms of low blood sugar are excessive sweating or shakiness. You should consult a doctor immediately if you experience such symptoms. The doctor will diagnose the cause of the fall in blood sugar and then manage the condition accordingly. Untreated hypoglycemia could be life-threatening if not taken care of in time. Therefore, regular blood glucose monitoring is essential for diabetic and non-diabetic people.