Hypoglycaemia (also known as hypo or low blood sugar) is defined as the reduction in plasma glucose concentration below the normal value of 70 mg/dl.
When the blood sugar level is too low, it cannot provide the body’s organs with the energy they need.
Hypoglycemia is one of the most common acute complications and can occur in cases of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
It is generally caused with blood-glucose-lowering agents like sulphonyl ureas and insulin.
Hypos can be classified as minor hypoglycaemia or severe glycaemia based upon the intensity of symptoms.
Hypoglyacemias that happen during night-time are called nocturnal hypoglycaemia.
Hypoglycemia can lead to unconsciousness, seizures (fit) or even death sometimes.
It occurs due to insufficient intake of carbohydrates, delay or omission of a snack or a main meal, performing more exercise than usual, overdose of sulphonylureas or of insulin and too much consumption of alcohol.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia are:
People experiencing nocturnal hypoglycaemia generally complain of severe headache in the morning along with sweating & palpitation.
Management depends on the severity of the condition. In minor hypoglycemia patients can usually manage themselves by taking glucose in any form (fruit juice, soft drinks, chocolates, table sugar in water or milk etc.)
Treating minor hypoglycaemia:
Treat immediately with 15–20 g fast-acting carbohydrate:
Some people may then need a snack of 15–20 g slower-acting carbohydrate
Retest BG after 15–20 minutes and re-treat if needed
Treating severe hypoglycaemia:
Severe hypoglycemia is when help is required from others and or the patient is unconsciousness. In such situation oral treatment is not recommended.
It is treated with I.V Glucose or Glucagon Injection.
Follow the following steps:
|Contributory factor||Suggested action|
|Missed insulin doses, followed by doses at unusual times||Stress the importance of keeping to
|Missed meals||Stress the importance of eating at
regular intervals for some regimens
If this is not possible, may need to adjust insulin regimen to allow greater flexibility
|Dieting||Modify dose to reflect reduced calorie intake|
|Exercise||Consider modifying dose, food intake or timing of exercise|
|Warm bath or shower||Discuss effect of temperature on
|For example, thyroid problems and infections. Treat the problem and/or alter insulin dose if insulin interacts with the treatment|
For people living with diabetes, experiencing and overcoming a hypoglycaemia can be worrying. This is no different for their family members, who endure similar feelings.
Remember that early detection & immediate treatment are key factors in managing hypoglycaemia.
Do ask your healthcare professional, if you have any questions about hypoglycaemia.