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Hypoglycemia

Also called low blood glucose, a condition that occurs when one's blood glucose is lower than normal, usually below 70 mg/dL. Signs include hunger, nervousness, shakiness, perspiration, dizziness or light-headedness, sleepiness, and confusion.

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(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia, also called low blood glucose or low blood sugar, occurs when blood glucose drops below normal levels. Glucose, an important source of energy for the body, comes from food. Carbohydrates are the main dietary source of glucose. Rice, potatoes, bread, tortillas, cereal, milk, fruit, and sweets are all carbohydrate-rich foods.

After a meal, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the body's cells. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the cells use glucose for energy. If a person takes in more glucose than the body needs at the time, the body stores the extra glucose in the liver and muscles in a form called glycogen. The body can use glycogen for energy between meals. Extra glucose can also be changed to fat and stored in fat cells. Fat can also be used for energy.

When blood glucose begins to fall, glucagon—another hormone made by the pancreas—signals the liver to break down glycogen and release glucose into the bloodstream. Blood glucose will then rise toward a normal level. In some people with diabetes, this glucagon response to hypoglycemia is impaired and other hormones such as epinephrine, also called adrenaline, may raise the blood glucose level. But with diabetes treated with insulin or pills that increase insulin production, glucose levels can't easily return to the normal range.

Hypoglycemia can happen suddenly. It is usually mild and can be treated quickly and easily by eating or drinking a small amount of glucose-rich food. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can get worse and cause confusion, clumsiness, or fainting. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, coma, and even death...Read more about Hypoglycemia NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose Frequency for Patients with Hypoglycemia Unawareness: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines [Internet]

The purpose of this report is to retrieve and review the existing clinical effectiveness evidence for various frequencies of SMBG with test strips for patients with type 1 DM and hypoglycemia unawareness. Additionally, this report aims to retrieve and review evidence-based guidelines regarding the optimal frequency of SMBG with test strips for this patient population.

Predictors and Consequences of Severe Hypoglycemia in Adults with Diabetes - A Systematic Review of the Evidence [Internet]

Prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing at an alarming pace, fueled by the rising rates of overweight and obesity in many populations. In the VA healthcare system, the prevalence of diabetes was 20% in fiscal year 2000 and is now estimated at nearly 25%.

Third-Line Pharmacotherapy for Type 2 Diabetes — Update [Internet]

The objective of this review was to update the systematic review and network meta-analysis of third-line therapies for type 2 diabetes.

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Summaries for consumers

Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes

Hyperglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels are too high. People develop hyperglycemia if their diabetes is not treated properly. Hypoglycemia sets in when blood sugar levels are too low. This is usually a side effect of treatment with blood-sugar-lowering medication. Diabetes is a metabolic disease with far-reaching health effects. In type 1 diabetes, the body only produces very little insulin, or none at all. In type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is released into the bloodstream, or the insulin cannot be used properly. We need insulin to live. Without it, sugar (glucose) builds up in the blood because it cannot be taken out and used by the body. Very high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, leads to a number of symptoms. If blood sugar levels are too low, it is called hypoglycemia.

Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes

If someone has diabetes that isn’t treated properly, they have too much sugar in their blood (hyperglycemia). Too little sugar in the bloodstream (hypoglycemia) is usually a side effect of treatment with blood-sugar-lowering medication. Diabetes is a metabolic disease with far-reaching health effects. In type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is released into the bloodstream, or the insulin can’t be used properly. In type 1 diabetes, the body only produces very little insulin, or none at all. We need insulin to live. Without it, sugar (glucose) builds up in the blood because it can’t be taken out and used by the body. Very high blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, leads to a number of symptoms. If blood sugar levels are too low, it is called hypoglycemia.

Breast milk expression during pregnancy by women with diabetes for improving infant outcomes

Babies born to women who have diabetes during pregnancy, either already existing or gestational, are at increased risk of low blood sugars after birth. This is because the babies have been exposed to higher than usual blood sugar (glucose) levels during the pregnancy and so have been producing relatively high levels of insulin. Some of these babies require additional breast milk, formula feeds or transfer to a special care nursery for intravenous fluids to correct the low blood sugar levels.

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More about Hypoglycemia

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Also called: Hypoglycaemia, Hypo, Low blood glucose, Low blood sugar

See Also: Hyperglycemia, Blood Glucose Monitoring, Diabetes Mellitus

Other terms to know:
Blood Glucose, Glucagon, Insulin

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