Glucose is the body’s fuel. Our brains require it to function properly and our muscles require it to move. It is the food for all of our cells. Therefore, it is important to maintain normal blood glucose levels for our bodies to function properly.
A normal blood sugar level is between 60-100 mg/dl. Your level raises some after a meal and it is lower in the morning when you first awaken. But your blood sugar level should never go below 60 mg/dl if you are not a diabetic. If you have a problem with your blood sugar dropping, commonly called hypoglycemia, you should see your doctor.
Hypoglycemia can be caused by many different things. Most cases of hypoglycemia will occur in people who have diabetes. If a diabetic has a decreased appetite or skips a meal and does not adjust their insulin or oral diabetic medicine to compensate, they will have a drop in blood sugar. But there are other conditions that can cause hypoglycemia also. Let’s look at a few of them.
Cancer can be a cause of low blood sugar. Chemotherapy will decrease the appetite or lead to nausea and vomiting. Food does not taste the same to people who have had chemotherapy. Skipping meals or eating very little will cause a drop in blood sugar levels.
Excessive alcohol consumption can stop your body from producing glucose which causes your body to use up all of its stored glycogen. This will only occur if you are drinking very heavily and have had nothing to eat.
Liver disease can cause low blood sugar because the liver is a key organ in glucose production. The kidney is also an important organ in glucose production and conditions such as kidney failure will cause hypoglycemia.
A beta cell tumor of the pancreas, called insulinoma, can cause hypoglycemia by causing an overproduction of insulin. Insulin is what controls the amount of glucose in your blood and too much insulin will cause a drop in blood glucose.
Endocrine deficiencies will cause hypoglycemia. The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce hormones that regulate processes throughout the body. These glands are the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, the adrenal glands, the pancreas, ovaries and testicles. Certain disorders of the adrenal glands or the pituitary gland can interfere with glucose production and cause hypoglycemia.
It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia. These symptoms may include:
* Confusion or abnormal behavior
* Visual disturbances, such as double vision or blurred vision
* Occasionally seizures
* Loss of consciousness
* Heart palpitations
If you think someone is having a hypoglycemic episode, it is important to call for help and try to raise their blood sugar as fast as possible. Brain and organ damage can result if their level drops too low for any amount of time. If they are still awake and able to drink, have them drink a glass of juice. It will help if you can add some sugar packets to it. If they are unconscious or bordering on becoming unconscious, get some sugar and place it under their tongue. This area is highly vascular and the sugar will absorb into the bloodstream fast.
Low blood sugar is not for diabetics only. It can happen to almost anyone at anytime without warning.