Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main type of sugar in your blood. The main source of sugars is a carbohydrate available in various foods. Generally, 80 to 99 mg/dl of blood sugar before a meal and 80 to 140 mg/dl after a meal are considered normal.
When blood sugar drops below the normal level, it leads to hypoglycemia. This medical condition of hypoglycemia can be difficult to diagnose early and manage. However, treatments are available to prevent hypoglycemia from turning into an emergency.
Despite the common belief that low blood sugar is most often linked to diabetes, people without diabetes can also experience episodes of low blood sugar. Learn more about the different causes of hypoglycemia.
Low Blood Sugar – An Overview
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, occurs when an individual’s blood sugar level drops below the healthy range. Each individual has different optimal blood sugar levels, varying at different times. However, for most people, hypoglycemia is below 70 mg/dL.
The standard classification of hypoglycemia is as follows:
Low blood sugar at night
Although low blood sugar can occur at any time of the day, some people experience low blood sugar when they sleep. There are various reasons why this can happen, including the following:
- Being extremely active during the day
- Physical activity very close to bedtime
- Take much more insulin than needed
- Consuming alcohol at night
To avoid this hypoglycemia, you must eat regular meals. You can also eat a healthy snack before going to bed if you feel like you are at risk of low blood sugar overnight.
Very low blood sugar
Very low blood sugar occurs when your blood sugar drops below 54 mg/dL, causing you to pass out.
There are a variety of symptoms associated with an episode of hypoglycemia. Although these symptoms may start mildly, they tend to progress very quickly.
- Feeling dizzy or dizzy
- Have a faster heartbeat
- Sweating and chills
- feeling nervous or irritable
- Restless sleep and fatigue
- Tingling sensations or numbness around the mouth
What causes hypoglycemia?
In diabetic patients
If you have diabetes, your body may not use insulin effectively to break down glucose in your bloodstream. As a result, it can cause blood glucose to build up, potentially reaching extremely high levels.
You can take insulin or other drugs that lower blood sugar to correct this problem. However, these drugs and too much insulin can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, leading to hypoglycemia.
Low blood sugar can also occur if you eat less than usual, especially after taking your diabetes medications or exercising more than usual.
Also, drinking alcohol while taking such medications, especially if you don’t eat while drinking, can lead to low blood sugar. This is because as your body tries to eliminate the alcoholic substance, it tends to fail in blood sugar management.
Hypoglycemia is much less common in people who do not have diabetes. However, sometimes it can happen for the following reasons:
A study shows that drugs such as cefditoren, tigecycline, ertapenem and clarithromycin are often associated with hypoglycemia.
Additionally, some patients on antibiotics, including fluoroquinolones, experience hypoglycemia when taking sulfonylureas or meglitinides.
Too much alcohol
Drinking a lot of alcohol, especially without eating, can prevent the liver from releasing glucose into the blood. As a result, it would lead to hypoglycemia.
Some serious diseases, such as cirrhosis, kidney disease, heart disease, etc., can lead to hypoglycemia.
Kidney disorders, in particular, can prevent your body from getting rid of drugs, which can affect sugar levels due to excess drug in your body.
Hypoglycemia is evident when your body is not getting the nutrition it needs, which means you may not be eating enough food. Eating disorders, in which individuals do not eat continuously, can lead to hypoglycemia.
Overproduction of insulin
Although very rare, a tumor of the pancreas, known as an insulinoma, can lead to overproduction of insulin, which can then lead to hypoglycemia.
Similarly, other tumors can also lead to overproduction of substances like insulin causing the same effect. Additionally, unusual cells in the pancreas can overproduce insulin, leading to hypoglycemia.
Certain disorders of the adrenal glands and pituitary gland can lead to an imbalance of hormones that regulate glucose production or metabolism. In these cases, if there is too little glucose in the blood, it would lead to hypoglycemia.
Note from The Fitness Freak
For people with diabetes, diabetes medications can cause occasional hypoglycemia. However, if you don’t have diabetes, hypoglycemia is rare. Such cases likely result from medications, long-term starvation, hormonal deficiencies, excessive insulin production, critical medical conditions, or alcohol abuse.
If you suffer from low blood sugar and you are not diabetic, it is worth talking to your doctor to see if there is an underlying cause such as eating disorders, excess production of insulin or hormonal deficiency. Once you know the root cause, you and your doctor can work out a treatment plan.