by Nora Saul, M.S, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.
Low blood sugar occurs when there is too much insulin for the amount of glucose in the blood stream.
This can happen if someone takes insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents and doesn’t eat enough or exercises without either reducing his insulin or eating something. This is because exercise can lower blood glucose sometimes up to 24 hours after the exercise has occurred.
Excessive alcohol can also cause hypoglycemia. Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to release glucose from the liver.
And, sometimes people make mistakes –they take the wrong dose of insulin or they think they are eating more carbohydrate than they really are. Other causes can be certain medications and sometimes illness can lead to low blood sugars.
During an episode of hypoglycemia the body tries to raise the blood glucose levels by dispatching a series of hormones including epinephrine cortisol and glucagon to stimulate the liver to release glucose.
Epinephrine is responsible for the somatic symptoms of low blood sugar, such as the perspiration and shakiness. The neurological symptoms of hypoglycemia are a consequence of the brain not having an adequate supply of glucose.
- Click here to learn about the Joslin Clinic’s special class: Low Blood Glucose Awareness Training.
- Click here for more information on Patient Education at the Joslin Diabetes Center.
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- · Click here to learn more about Joslin Diabetes Center.
Next week: Hypoglycemia or Low Blood Sugar: How to Treat It.