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Hypoglycemia is a pathologic state that is caused by neuronal glucose
Brain metabolism depends primarily on glucose as energetic material.
When blood glucose levels decrease a group of homeostatic mechanisms
come into play as a reaction to that phenomenon. This syndrome is
Causes of hypoglycemia
The main cause of hypoglycemia is intentional or accidental overdose
of antidiabetic medication, insulin or oral drugs, or failure to eat
as planned after taking those medications.
Another serious cause of hypoglycemia is the 'insulinoma', a
pancreatic tumor that is derived from B (beta) cells of islets of
Langerhans. These tumours are hormonally active, producing and
releasing insulin into bloodstream. C-peptide levels can distinguish
between abnormally high insulin levels that result from
overproduction, and those caused by administration of exogenous
Hypoglycemia is usually divided into "reactive hypoglycemia" and
"functional hypoglycemia." Reactive hypoglycemia refers to
hypoglycemia caused by external influences, like diet and medication
use. This type is more amenable to management or cure. Functional
hypoglycemia refers to hypoglycemia caused by a malfunction, possibly
metabolic, within the sufferer. This type is harder to manage.
Functional hypoglycemia is caused by an overproduction of insulin, or
a malfunctioning of the body's insulin-management system (insulin
resistance. Hypoglycemia is also known as idiopathic if no physical
cause for the bloodsugar drop can be discerned.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia
Generally they can be divided into effects on the central nervous
system and those caused by release of antagonistic hormones. It should
be said that severity of hypoglycemic symptoms depends on level of
blood glucose drop, speed of the drop and overall health status.
- impaired consciousness and cognitive properties
- overwhelming fatigue
- constant hunger
- nervousness, anxiety
- fear of dying
- confusion, delirium
- muscle pain
- memory loss
In severe cases the symptoms can resemble various mental illnesses;
when left untreated the condition can even induce coma.
If the patient is conscious, eating or drinking something that is rich
in simple carbohydrates. If not, intravenous injection of glucose
and/or injection of glucagon that is a hormone with antagonistic
properties counteracting the hypoglycemic state. When injecting
anything to a diabetic patient under a state of Hypoglycemia, one must
be careful not to inject insulin accidentally, under the typical
confusion this type of emergency brings. This would cause the diabetic
person immediate death.
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