Hypoglycemia is a significant challenge for most with diabetes because it prevents many folks from maintaining a normal blood glucose level. Diabetics can keep their blood glucose levels low enough to prevent long term complications such as vision related problems, kidney disease and nerve disorders, but the issue of avoiding heart disease requires an even lower level of blood glucose which is very difficult to maintain because of the threat of hypoglycemia. This is especially true for folks with type 1 diabetes. A normal blood glucose level runs between 80 and 140 mg / dl. The issue here is that hypoglycemia starts at just below 80 mg / dl, but symptoms may not present themselves until your blood glucose drops below 60 mg / dl.
Looking for some good news here? You're in luck because most folks recover completely from the effects of hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia can be a tricky situation to avoid because of the medication that is prescribed to you in order to lower your glucose levels. Your body simply doesn't operate well when your blood glucose levels are too low. So many components need glucose to function properly. Your brains needs it to operate the rest of your body as well as to allow you to function on an intellectual level. You muscles also need the energy provided by glucose much in the same way your motorcycle needs gas to operate.
When your body senses that its blood glucose levels are too low, hormones are released in an attempt to raise your glucose levels. But a problem arises. Remember that medication you are on to push your glucose levels down? Well, they keep the hormones from doing their job. Sometimes, especially when you have just begun a new medication regiment, you may be more susceptible to hypoglycemia. It may take some adjustments, but eventually you will get the medication adjusted and things will be back to normal again.
So what is the blood glucose level that you will develop hypoglycemia? Most experts agree that a blood glucose level of 60 mg / dl or less is the point where most show will symptoms of hypoglycemia. However, all people are different. As discussed earlier, some will show symptoms at a much higher level.
Most doctors break the symptoms of hypoglycemia into two major categories:
1. Symptoms tied to the side effects of the increase in hormones (specifically epinephrine) triggered by your body to counter the glucose lowering effect of insulin. This category is referred to as adrenergic symptoms, named so due to the fact epinephrine comes from your adrenal gland.
2. Symptoms that are tied to your brain not receiving enough glucose so that you are unable to function intellectually. This category is referred to as neuroglycopenic symptoms. This is the medical term for not enough (penic) glucose (glyco) in the brain (neuro).
So, let's get to the symptoms.
Adrenergic symptoms will normally manifest themselves when your blood glucose falls quickly. These symptoms are tip offs that you are either hypoglycemic, or are on the verge of becoming so in the very near future:
1. Excessive Hunger
3. Whiteness of your skin
4. Numbness in your lips, toes or fingers
5. Rapid heartbeat
7. Palpitations, or the sensation that your heart is beating way too fast
Neuroglycopenic symptoms generally occur when it takes longer for your hypoglycemia to develop. Symptoms will get progressively more severe as your blood glucose level drops. These symptoms are often tip offs that you are already hypoglycemic or will be very shortly:
1. Poor color vision
3. Hearing troubles
4. Double or blurred vision
5. Trouble concentrating or state of confusion
6. Loss of concentration
7. Coma, or inability to be awoken
8. Feeling of warmth
9. Slurred speech
It is very easy to tell when an intelligent person is hypoglycemic because they will make uncharacteristic simple mistakes. They may also appear to be drunk.
If you are taking insulin, it's really important that you carry your ID with you at all times in case you develop hypoglycemia. Of course, you can always wear a Medicalert bracelet or other jewelry that indicates your condition.