About This Condition
“Hypoglycemia” is the medical term for low blood sugar (glucose).
Occasionally, hypoglycemia can be dangerous (for example, from injecting too much insulin). It may also indicate a serious underlying medical condition, such as a tumor of the pancreas or liver disease. More often, however, when people say they have hypoglycemia, they are describing a group of symptoms that occur when the body overreacts to the rise in blood sugar that occurs after eating, resulting in a rapid or excessive fall in the blood sugar level. This is sometimes called “reactive hypoglycemia.”
Many people who believe they have reactive hypoglycemia do not, in fact, have low blood sugar levels,1 and many people who do have low blood sugar levels do not have any symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia.2 Some evidence suggests that reactive hypoglycemia may be partly a psychological condition.3 Consequently, some doctors believe that reactive hypoglycemia does not exist.4 Most doctors, on the other hand, have found reactive hypoglycemia to be a common cause of the symptoms listed below.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
According to the American Diabetes Association, untreated hypoglycemia carries potentially serious health risks. Fortunately, acute hypoglycemia is simple to treat, requiring only nourishment to balance the blood sugar. After using glucose test to confirm that blood sugar is low:
- Consume 15 to 20 grams of glucose or simple carbohydrates
- Recheck blood glucose after 15 minutes. If hypoglycemia continues, repeat.
- Once blood glucose returns to normal, eat a small snack if your next planned meal or snack is more than an hour or two away.
Stay prepared to support your blood sugar stability by keeping 15 grams of simple carbohydrates on hand:
- glucose tablets (follow package instructions)
- gel tube (follow package instructions)
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of juice or regular soda (not diet)
- 1 tablespoon sugar, honey, or corn syrup 8 ounces of nonfat or 1% milk
- hard candies, jellybeans, or gumdrops (see package to determine how many to consume)
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.