Low Blood Sugar
A low level of blood sugar is more of a physiological condition than a disease and occurs when the level of glucose, the blood sugar, is too low. By too low, it means the sugar levels in the blood are below 70mg/dL. The scientific term for low blood sugar levels is hypoglycemia or hypoglycaemia. These terms are often confused with hyperglycemia which its opposite is meaning high blood sugar circulating in the plasma of the blood, usually above 200mg/dL. There are a myriad of problems and resulting symptoms associated with low blood sugar chief of which inadequate glucose supply to the brain leading to a malfunctioning of the brain. The impairment of the brain stemming from inadequate blood sugar supply (neuroglycopenia) also results in a whole range of effects on the patient, some mild like dysphoria and others devastating like bouts of unconsciousness, seizures, brain damage and in the extreme cases death can occur.
Hypoglycemia can affect all ages but is less common in people who are diabetic. Many forms of low blood sugar often result from complications brought about by the treatment of diabetes forms like the diabetes insipidus or diabetes mellitus by oral medications containing insulin. The most common causes from which low body sugar levels can result include the following: hyperinsulinemia which is the excessive production of insulin, poisons and medications, inborn metabolic error, hormone deficiencies, alcohol consumption, organ failures and alterations of the body metabolic processes as a result of infections.
The level of blood sugar levels that defines hypoglycemia varies from individual to individual, with circumstances and sometimes even doctors differ on this figure. However, there is a benchmark for any healthy person at around 4.ommol/L, an equivalent of 72mg/dL and symptoms that are particular to hypoglycemia will develop when this glucose level is less than 4mmol/L. Sometimes, it is a little difficult to tell if the symptoms exhibited by a patient are exclusively due to low blood sugar levels. The combination of criteria that is used to diagnose hypoglycemia from a myriad of symptoms is referred to as the Whipple's triad and involves three stages. The first is noting down the symptoms have occurred then comparing the low glucose levels with the threshold for hypoglycemia. Finally, if the symptoms are reversed to normal by restoration of glucose level then this is a case of hypoglycemia.
Causes of Low Blood Sugar
Hypoglycemia can occur due to a number of causes. The causes could be:
- When someone's physiological processes uses the glucose in the blood too quickly then low blood sugar levels will result.
- When the glucose reserves are released into the body's blood then this is a case of hypoglycemia.
- Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for regulation of the blood sugar levels. It is the increased levels of blood sugar that can trigger the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream. When interference with the sending of nervous signals to and from the pancreas occurs, then too much or too little insulin will be released by pancreas. It is too much production of insulin that will cause low blood sugar levels to result.
- Taking diabetes medicine or insulin at the wrong time is likely to induce low blood sugar levels.
- Skipping meals, waiting too long to eat meals, eating less during meals or indulging in consumption of snacks after diabetes medications or insulin injections.
- Excessive exercising.
- Overconsumption of alcohol.
The medications for diabetic conditions that increase the risk of low blood sugar levels include:
- Orinase (tolbutamide), glucotrol (glipizide), dymelor (acetohexamide), tolinase (tolazamide) and diabinese (chlorpropamide).
- There are other drugs which present a low risk of low blood sugar but but the risk is still a possibility. Such drugs include mitiglinide, nateglinide, repaglinide, glimeprinide and glyburide.
When diabetic mothers give birth to kids, the newborn's blood sugar levels may exhibit severe drops. In a different case, cases of low blood sugar can also be experienced in people with no history of diabetes. The most likely cause of hypoglycemia in these people includes the following:
- Too much consumption of alcohol.
- Chronic disease affecting the organs involved in the production of insulin. An example would be tumors in the pancreas or the liver that will lead to too much production of insulin.
Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar
Almost all the early symptoms of hypoglycemia are associated by the release of an hormone called epinephrine. The symptoms that witnessed as a result of low blood sugar can be divided into three categories: the early symptoms associated with epinephrine and other counterregulatory hormones like glucagon and adrenaline which are due to falling levels of glucose and the malfunctioning of the brain due to less glucose.
- Adrenergic manifestations. These include feelings of numbness, mydriasis which is the dilation of pupils, pallor, clamminess, coldness, sweating, tachycardia, palpitations, anxiety, nervousness and shakiness.
- Glucagon manifestations. These include headaches, nausea, vomiting, hunger, boborgymus and abdominal discomfort.
- Neuroglycopenic manifestations. There are numerous symptoms that result due to the brain receiving less quantities of blood sugar. A comprehensive list will include: slurred speech, difficulty in speaking, non-coordination, ataxia, paralysis, hemiparesis, motor and focal deficit, abnormal breathing, coma, stupor, focal and generalized seizures, dysmenorrheal, automatism, flashes of light in the field of vision, dizziness, delirium, amnesia, random bouts of confusion, sleep, daydreaming, lethargy, apathy, weakness, fatigue, personality change accompanied with emotional liability. Other symptoms that could also result include rage, combativeness, belligerence, irritability, negativism, exaggerated concerns, crying, depression, moodiness, non-specific dysphoria, impaired judgment and abnormal mentation.
Low Blood Sugar Home Remedies
Many of the treatment forms for low blood sugar involve increasing the blood sugar levels in the blood mostly by ingestion of carbohydrates, determination of the underlying cause of hypoglycemia and even measures to combat episodes of hypoglycemia. Here are some home remedies that may help combat low blood sugar. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies and herbal remedies yourself!
Examples of 15 grams carbohydrates that can be taken to increase blood sugar levels:
- A tablespoon of syrup or honey.
- Hard candies.
- A tablespoon of sugar dissolved in water or plain.
- Half a cup of non-diet soda or fruit juice.
- Glucose powder or tablets.
- After taking these carbohydrates, the patient needs to wait for up to half an hour before eating other foods. Overeating on the other hand can cause weight gain an in some circumstances disease reversal from hypoglycaemia to hyperglycaemia.
After eating these carbohydrates, one should feel relief in half an hour or so failure to which:
- Eat more of the carbohydrates again. Sticking to the 25 grams measurement would still be helpful.
- If the consumption of these foods does not lead to an increases or normal blood sugar levels, then contact the doctor pronto.
You may also Try These Home Remedies
- Bilberry: Bilberry has been used for nearly a thousand years as a treatment for low blood sugar. According to research, diabetic dogs have also indicated benefits in reducing blood sugar levels.
- Bitter Melon: this plant grows in tropical areas, including parts of the Amazon Basin, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America. The bitter melon grows as a vine bearing green leaves and yellow flowers with oblong green fruit that resemble a cucumber. It is one of the best low blood sugar remedy recommended by specialists.
- Blond Psyllium: Blond Pysllium seeds play a very 8important role in reducing postprandial serum glucose, insulin levels, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in patients with Type II diabetes and hypercholesterolemia.
- Astragals or licorice root: They can help your body respond to stress. However, if overused, licorice can elevate blood pressure. Therefore try not to use this herb on a daily basis for more than seven days in a row. For patients with high blood pressure or pregnant or even nursing women are not encouraged to take these herbs.
- Bilberry and wild yam: These herbs aid in controlling insulin levels.
- Dandelion root. It is an excellent source of calcium and supports the pancreas and liver.
- Gudmar herb: It suppresses the intestinal absorption of saccharides, which prevents blood sugar fluctuation.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is recognized as having healing effect on many medical problems including low blood sugar. According to experts, the aloe gel helps in lowering blood glucose levels.
- American Ginseng: this is a very popular herb especially among the Chinese. Ginseng can be helpful in reducing blood sugar levels in Type II diabetic patients.
Diet for low blood sugar
The diet for correcting low blood sugar levels can be of two types:
- Low carbohydrate diets for hypoglycaemia. These diets serve to increase fat and protein levels in the body resulting from reduction of all forms of carbohydrates.
- High carbohydrate diets for hypoglycaemia. In this diet, consumption of simple sugars like processed grains, breads and sugars. Emphasis is instead laid on the consumption of fruits, berries, vegetables and whole grains among others.
Though these two diets have a contrastingly different composition, they all result to the increase of blood sugar levels to normal. The two important factors for these different diets are:
- For both diets, consumption of frequent but smaller meals with snacks in between is encouraged.
- These low blood sugar diets reduce the need to consume all kinds of sugars. The reason for reducing these frequently consumed foods is because the human digestive system often converts most processed carbohydrates into sugar.
- Reduction of alcohol intake is also crucial for hypoglycaemic diets.
Prevention of Low Blood Sugar
Prevention is better than cure and therefore, it is always better to live an healthy life so as to prevent possibility of hypoglycaemia.
- Eat regular meals with a little more food with exercise.
- Do not over consume processed sugary foods and alcoholic drinks alike.
- Always check your blood sugar levels especially when you exercise. Take snacks when you exercise and also when you take medications that will lower blood sugar levels like insulin.
- Always consult your doctor if you think you need to reduce your blood sugar levels like if you want to take snacks before bedtime. Protein snacks are better than carbohydrate snacks.
- If you or your family has a history of hypoglycaemia, then keep snacks or drinks containing sugar all the times.
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