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Blood Sugar Control

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Blood Sugar Information

On this page:

  • Hypoglycemia: A Side Effect of Diabetes Medications
  • Hypoglycemia in People Who Do Not Have Diabetes
  • Hope Through Research
  • Points to Remember
  • For More Information

Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) level drops too low to provide enough energy for your body's activities. In adults or children older than 10 years, hypoglycemia is uncommon except as a side effect of diabetes treatment, but it can result from other medications or diseases, hormone or enzyme deficiencies, or tumors.

Glucose, a form of sugar, is an important fuel for your body. Carbohydrates are the main dietary sources of glucose. Rice, potatoes, bread, tortillas, cereal, milk, fruit, and sweets are all carbohydrate-rich foods.

After a meal, glucose molecules are absorbed into your bloodstream and carried to the cells, where they are used for energy. Insulin, a hormone produced by your pancreas, helps glucose enter cells. If you take in more glucose than your body needs at the time, your body stores the extra glucose in your liver and muscles in a form called glycogen. Your body can use the stored glucose whenever it is needed for energy between meals. Extra glucose can also be converted to fat and stored in fat cells.

When blood glucose begins to fall, glucagon, another hormone produced by the pancreas, signals the liver to break down glycogen and release glucose, causing blood glucose levels to rise toward a normal level. If you have diabetes, this glucagon response to hypoglycemia may be impaired, making it harder for your glucose levels to return to the normal range.

Symptoms

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include

  • hunger
  • nervousness and shakiness
  • perspiration
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • sleepiness
  • confusion
  • difficulty speaking
  • feeling anxious or weak

Hypoglycemia can also happen while you are sleeping. You might

  • cry out or have nightmares
  • find that your pajamas or sheets are damp from perspiration
  • feel tired, irritable, or confused when you wake up

Hypoglycemia: A Side Effect of Diabetes Medications

Hypoglycemia can occur in people with diabetes who take certain medications to keep their blood glucose levels in control. Usually hypoglycemia is mild and can easily be treated by eating or drinking something with carbohydrate. But left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to loss of consciousness. Although hypoglycemia can happen suddenly, it can usually be treated quickly, bringing your blood glucose level back to normal.

Causes of Hypoglycemia


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