Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a condition in which there is an abnormally low level of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Normally your body keeps your blood sugar levels within a narrow range through the coordinated work of several glands and their hormones. But factors such as disease or a poor diet can disrupt the mechanisms that regulate your sugar levels. Too much glucose (hyperglycemia) results in diabetes, and too little glucose results in hypoglycemia.

Signs and Symptoms

Because glucose (sugar) is the brain's primary fuel, your brain feels the effects of hypoglycemia. The effects include the following.

What Causes It?

Hypoglycemia can be caused by the following conditions.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

If your symptoms are not severe, your health care provider will order a blood test called a glucose tolerance test (GTT). If your levels are only slightly above normal, your provider may recommend diet and lifestyle changes. If your symptoms are severe, your provider will immediately give you glucose in either an oral or injectable form to bring your blood sugar level back to normal as quickly as possible. Additional tests can determine the cause of your low blood sugar.

Treatment Options

It is important to treat low blood sugar immediately to avoid long-term serious effects. Hypoglycemia resulting from exercise several hours after a meal rarely produces serious symptoms. A glass of orange juice and a piece of bread can correct your blood sugar levels within minutes. However, in people with underlying diseases, fluctuating blood sugar levels are more serious and must be treated with oral or injectable forms of glucose. You can take oral glucose if you are able to swallow. If not, your health care provider can give you an injection.

Drug Therapies

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Long-term treatment is aimed at the cause of the hypoglycemia, but alternative therapies may also be useful in regulating blood sugar in the short term. Nutritional support should be part of treatment. Nutrition
Small frequent meals that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates are best, preferably five or six a day. Cut down on simple carbohydrates including sugar, refined foods, juices, and fruit. Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

Vitamins and minerals that are important for regulating glucose levels include the following. Herbs
Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, it is important to work with your provider on getting your problem diagnosed before you start any treatment. Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted. Following Up
Any underlying condition that may be causing your hypoglycemia must be aggressively treated so that your episodes do not recur. If you have hypoglycemia when you exercise, carry a healthy snack with you when you exercise.

Special Considerations
Do not ignore the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia. Untreated, it can cause irreversible brain damage, coma, or even death.


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