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Diabetes Information

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is often seen in patients under insulin therapy through injections or secretagogues. The dosage of the insulin to be taken is usually computed by their health care provider as to achieve the necessary balance between the diet, level of physical activity, and other factors. When this balance is affected, blood sugar can go down to dangerous levels, leading to hypoglycemia. The following factors can affect the balance between glucose and insulin in the body and lead to hypoglycemia:
1. Extreme amount of medication like insulin or other oral agents.
2. Errors in insulin administration. An insulin injection was given but it may be too much, thus leading to hypoglycemia.
3. The amount of food is not proportional to the amount of insulin taken. It usually occurs in skipping meals and adjusting meal time.
4. Nausea and vomiting without replacing the water lost.
5. Too much exercise and vigorous physical activity may lead to hypoglycemia.
6. Some drugs affect the mechanism of insulin on the cells, either by blocking or diminishing their control.
7. Having a sauna bath. There have been studies that show that steam can help insulin to be absorbed. Eat first before going in the sauna.
8. Drinking alcohol, of any amount or type will affect insulin levels, leading to hypoglycemia.
9. Illnesses which affect blood sugar control.

Alcohol consumption, especially on an empty stomach can trigger significant hypoglycemia, irregardless of the amount. It can bring down blood sugar levels in people without diabetes, frequently with a severe reaction on diabetics. Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia in diabetics are similar to being inebriated, such as being tipsy and disoriented, which is quite dangerous on the part of the diabetic because they need urgent medical help fast. Unfortunately, instead of help coming their way, they may find themselves locked up in jail for their supposed drunken behavior. To dispel ignorance and being in danger of this kind of situation, it is suggested that diabetics wear proper identification that shows that they are diabetics such as a diabetic medic alert bracelet or necklace.

Strenuous exercise and physical activity can lead to hypoglycemia in diabetics, especially when these activities are done late in the evening or early morning when levels of blood glucose go down. Since alcohol is a potent cause for hypoglycemia, it should be avoided especially when done with physically exhausting activities, sexual activities included.

Glucose is food for the brain. So when mild hypoglycemia occurs wherein there is a slightly severe decrease in blood glucose, there is a shortage of glucose going to the brain, causing it to stimulate the adrenals to produce epinephrine. Epinephrine is responsible for sympathetic nervous system activities including an increased heart rate, sweating, pallor, palpitations, abnormal skin sensations, hunger and tremors, symptoms that tell the person that they have to take in carbohydrates or even sugar for the brain to revert back to its normal functions. A moderate episode of hypoglycemia may cause confusion in an individual, making them devoid of rational thought. Severe hypoglycemia from very low glucose levels causes the person to be disoriented, sometimes unconscious, and with seizure-like symptoms. Most diabetic patients are at risk in developing hypoglycemia, more so for those that need insulin therapy to control it.

To diagnose hypoglycemia, these symptoms are mainly exhibited in combination with very low blood glucose levels, usually less that 60mg/dl. Unfortunately, there is no definite number to define hypoglycemia since this value is variable in each individual.

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