Low blood sugar symptoms

November 12, 2012

Low blood sugar symptoms

Normal blood sugar levels are essential for normal, healthy life – extremely low blood sugar (or hypoglycaemia) should be considered a medical emergency as it might be a threat to life. Low blood sugar symptoms will increase in severity as the level of blood sugar lowers. A blood sugar reading of below 70 mg/dL is considered low.

Causes of low blood sugar

There are several possible causes of low blood sugar -

  • Glucose (or sugar) is used up too quickly in the body
  • Glucose is released too slowly into the bloodstream
  • Too much insulin, intended to reduce blood sugar levels, is released into the bloodstream. Insulin is produced in the pancreas as levels of glucose in the blood increase.

It is possible to have low blood sugar with no symptoms – generally, this will result in the individual fainting or lapsing into a coma.

At risk groups

Most people assume that low blood sugar affects only diabetics – this is not the case, other individuals who may be at risk include -

  • Those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  • A patient with a tumour in the pancreas producing too much insulin (insulinoma)
  • Patients with liver disease

Diabetics who experience low blood sugar levels may do so for a number of reasons -

  • Taking medications at the wrong time
  • Incorrect dosage
  • Not eating enough following medication
  • Missing or delaying meals
  • Excessive exercise
  • Alcohol consumption

Early low blood sugar symptoms

In the early stages of low blood sugar, possible symptoms include nausea, trembling, extreme hunger, tingling, and numbness in the lips and fingertips, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating and a feeling of nervousness for no apparent reason.

Moderate low blood sugar symptoms

When blood sugar reaches a moderately low level the low blood sugar symptoms will worsen and may begin to have a negative effect on the body’s nervous system producing some or all of the following symptoms -

  • Anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Headaches and/or blurry vision
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Aggression
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty with movement

The appearance of these types of low blood sugar symptoms usually occur when blood sugar reaches 55 mg/DL or below.

Severe symptoms associated with low blood sugar

Extremely low blood sugar should be considered a medical emergency and immediate medical health should be sought. Symptoms associated with severely low blood sugar include the following -

  • Seizures and/or convulsions
  • Extreme drowsiness, difficulty rousing the patient
  • Low body temperature
  • Coma

If this condition is allowed to continue untreated, it may result in brain damage or even death.

Regular checking of blood sugar

Maintaining a stable, healthy level of blood sugar is essential in order to prevent the risks associated with both high and low blood sugar levels. Eating a healthy, well balanced diet with a wide variety of foods should enable blood sugar levels to be kept at normal levels and thereby avoid the symptoms that may occur with extreme swings of blood sugar levels.


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