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Hypoglycemia : Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

Hypoglycemia is a health disorder that occurs when blood sugar levels are below normal levels. Sugar is derived from foods that we digest and absorb. The sugar molecules enter the bloodstream to then be distributed to all cells in the body's tissues. But most of the body's cells cannot absorb sugar without the help of the insulin hormone produced by the pancreas. In this case, insulin acts as an opening door for the entry of sugar into the cell.

If the amount of insulin is too much, automatically blood sugar levels will decrease. That is why hypoglycemia is experienced by many people with diabetes because they often use insulin or drugs that trigger insulin production to reduce sugar levels in their blood. But not only insulin, there are several other factors, such as poor diet and excessive exercise, can also cause hypoglycemia.

Blood sugar

Symptoms of hypoglycemia

If the blood sugar level is too low, the body, including the brain, will not function properly. And if that happens, someone who suffers from hypoglycemia can experience the following symptoms:

  • Tired
  • Dizzy
  • Pale
  • Tingling lips
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Feeling hungry
  • Heart palpitations
  • Difficult to concentrate
  • Easy to get angry

People with hypoglycemia whose condition worsens will experience symptoms such as:

  • Sleepy
  • Visual impairment
  • Like confusion
  • Movement becomes awkward, even behaves like a drunk person
  • Seizures
  • Lost consciousness

The worsening symptoms generally occur when blood levels drop dramatically due to hypoglycemia that does not get proper treatment.

If you suffer from diabetes and suspect you are experiencing hypoglycemia, it is advisable to immediately see a doctor if your condition does not experience positive changes even though it has been dealt with (for example by eating sweet foods or drinks).

Causes of hypoglycemia

The following are some of the causes of hypoglycemia that usually occurs in diabetics:

  • Use of insulin injections in cases of type 1 diabetes that are overdose, or overuse of oral medications in cases of type 2 diabetes which can also trigger excessive release of insulin. One of these drugs is sulphonylurea.
  • Using insulin with a normal dose, but the body lacks carbohydrate intake. This problem can occur because people do too much physical activity, do not consume enough foods that contain carbohydrates, forget to eat, or delay eating.
  • Consume too much liquor or alcohol on an empty stomach.

While some causes of hypoglycemia in non-diabetic people include:

  • Too much insulin production by the pancreas. This can be caused by obesity, consuming too much carbohydrates, pancreatic tumors, or side effects from gastric bypass surgery.
  • Consume too much liquor.
  • Fasting.
  • Suffering from a disease that attacks the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, kidney or liver.
  • Suffering from Addison's disease (an abnormality in the adrenal gland).
  • Lack of nutrition.
  • Side effects of drugs, such as propranolol for hypertension, salicylic acid for rheumatism, and quinine for malaria.

Diagnosis and treatment of hypoglycemia

At this time there are available blood sugar levels in pharmacies that can be used by diabetics at home. Besides diabetes, this tool can also be used to diagnose hypoglycemia.

A person's normal sugar level is 72 to 108 mg / dl during fasting, and reaches 140 mg / dl approximately two hours after eating. Usually the symptoms of hypoglycemia will begin to be felt by someone if their blood is below 70 mg / dl.

When symptoms of hypoglycemia arise, immediately consume foods that contain high levels of sugar, such as fruit juice, sweets, or soft drinks. In addition, you can also eat foods whose carbohydrate content can be quickly converted into sugar by the body, such as sandwiches, cereals, or biscuits.

After 15 minutes, check your sugar levels again. If it is still below 70 mg / dl, re-consume the sugar-boosting foods. Keep checking every 15 minutes until your sugar level is above 70 mg / dl. After the sugar level returns to normal, keep it stable by eating healthy foods or snacks.

If the symptoms are severe or the initial treatment is not effective so that your condition worsens, then immediately see a doctor or hospital. At the hospital, doctors will usually give injections of glucagon or intravenous fluids containing glucose so that your blood levels return to normal. Be sure not to put any food or drink into your mouth when the patient is unconscious to avoid tightness.

In addition to blood tests, the doctor will also check the function of the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, or pancreas to find out if your hypoglycemia occurs as a result of interference with these organs. If it turns out to be true, then new hypoglycemia can heal after the underlying condition is treated. Basic treatment can be done with medication, or by surgery, for example to remove the tumor in the pancreas.

In general, hypoglycemia needs to be dealt with quickly and precisely to avoid complications such as loss of consciousness, seizures to death. Always consult with your doctor what type of treatment and activity is right for you.

Prevention of hypoglycemia

Here are some tips to prevent the appearance of symptoms of hypoglycemia and tips for the symptoms of hypoglycemia that appear not to worsen:

  • Eat according to the activities we do. This is important to maintain the availability of sugar needed by the body. Moreover, for diabetics who will exercise, make sure you consume enough carbohydrate foods and adjust the insulin dosage you use according to your doctor's recommendations. For those who often experience symptoms of hypoglycemia at night it is also recommended to eat snacks that contain carbohydrates before going to bed, such as milk or biscuits. Also, keep sugary food near the bed in anticipation of symptoms of hypoglycemia that interfere with your sleep.
  • Limit consumption of liquor or avoid it altogether if you can. This is because alcohol can affect the body's ability to release glucose. If you suffer from type 1 diabetes, it is highly recommended not to consume alcohol at all, or consume no more than 30 ml of alcohol per day. Make sure you eat light snacks afterwards.
  • Monitor your sugar levels regularly. This is important to do every day to ensure blood sugar levels are within the normal range. If you often experience hypoglycemia at night, check your blood sugar levels at 3.00 or 4.00, which is when hypoglycemia is often felt by people with diabetes.
  • Get to know the symptoms of hypoglycemia that appears. Our knowledge of this can help deal with hypoglycemia quickly.
  • Always prepare food or symptom relief wherever you are. One medicine that might be taught by doctors is glucagon injections.
  • Be careful when driving a vehicle. Make sure your condition is prime before driving. Avoid carrying a vehicle if you are recovering or just undergoing treatment in the last 48 hours. Stop the vehicle if you experience a hypoglycemia attack and treat it as early as possible.



Evert, AB. (2014). Treatment of Mild Hypoglycemia. Diabetes Spectrum.

American Diabetes Association (2018). Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Glucose).

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.