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What is Low Blood Sugar?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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Low blood sugar, or low blood glucose, from a medical perspective, is called hypoglycemia and refers to low blood serum glucose levels. Glucose is the "sugar" which is low in this case, and when it drops below 70 mg per deciliter of blood, a person is concerned hypoglycemic. People may also use the term low blood sugar much more casually to express hunger, or feelings of faintness or irritation that come over them when they skip meals. Some people will feel a little nauseous if they don't eat regularly and may attribute this to abnormally lowered blood sugar even if they're not technically hypoglycemic.

True hypoglycemia has numerous causes. People most commonly prone to hypoglycemia are those with diabetes, whose bodies do not make enough or cannot properly use the hormone insulin, which allows glucose to be used as energy by cells. Diabetics must regularly monitor their blood sugar levels to make sure they have the proper balance of insulin and glucagon, which produces glucose. Low blood sugar could be a result of skipping meals or accidentally injecting too much insulin. Other conditions that might result in low glucose levels include absence of human growth hormone, certain antibiotics or other medications, liver failure or liver insufficiency, extreme food poisoning or stomach flu, and some infections.

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For most people who have minor low blood glucose, symptoms could include hunger, slight nausea, slight tremor or clammy skin. Some people may have a fast heart rate. If the condition isn’t corrected, it can become much more serious. People could faint, act confused, have terrible headaches, and some people will have seizures or might go into a coma. It should be noted that usually signs of hypoglycemia are noticeable long before it could cause coma or death.

Treatment for low blood sugar really depends upon cause. Diabetics may need to monitor their blood sugar regularly, and if it becomes low, they may have injectable forms of the medication glucagon to correct it. In an emergency setting where a person is a known diabetic, the best treatment is to give orange juice, candy, table sugar dissolved in water, or things like cake icing. If hypoglycemia is causing these symptoms, the person affected usually responds in a few minutes. However, because this can be dangerous quickly, it is best to call emergency services and get advice on treatment prior to doing anything.

It’s important to alert doctors to medical conditions that have prevented eating for a day or more, such as food poisoning or stomach flu. In these conditions, infants and the elderly, even without diabetes, are most vulnerable to developing hypoglycemia and other imbalances. Other treatments for low blood sugar usually revolve around the cause of it. For example, kids who lack human growth hormone tend to have growth hormone injections to keep blood sugar balanced and promote normal growth.

In any circumstances where a person manifests confusion, fainting, or has seizures, the best way to get treatment is to contact emergency services. These can be symptoms of many different illnesses, and low blood sugar isn’t always the cause. People should not make assumptions about possible causes of these symptoms if they don’t have knowledge of another person’s medical history.

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Roach2468
Post 3

I have low blood sugar. It freaking stinks. If I don't get treatment soon, will I die or go into a coma? Even faint? Man I'm scared. Please help.

oasis11
Post 2

Sunny27- I have seen people with those bracelets, but never knew what it meant. I want to add that hypoglycemic patients can also use a home blood glucose meter that measures the blood sugar levels.

This can also be used as a preventive measure that can alert the hypoglycemic patient that the blood sugar is indeed too low at the moment before the onset of physical symptoms begins.

Sunny27
Post 1

Great article- People with low blood sugar problems often where bracelets to inform others of their condition.

This is helpful because low blood sugar can be very dangerous and may require immediate medical attention.

In addition to the bracelet, the patient should verbally inform coworkers and superiors in case a hypoglycemic episode arises in the workplace.

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