What is a hypoglycemic attack?

A hypoglycemic attack occurs when the body's blood sugar levels drop below normal. Hunger, confusion, and sweating are some of the symptoms of a hypoglycemic attack. The condition is commonly related to diabetes, but those without diabetes can experience hypoglycemia from medications or other health conditions. Treatment for hypoglycemia involves dietary adjustments and medications to prevent recurring episodes.

During normal production and storage processes, glucose or sugar in the blood comes from foods that are high in carbohydrates. Some examples include bread, milk, rice, and fruit. After a person eats, glucose enters the bloodstream. It then travels to the cells and is helped by insulin, which is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin helps cells absorb glucose for the body to use for energy; any extra glucose travels to the liver, muscles, and fat cells to be stored as extra energy between meals.

Hypoglycemia sets in when glucose and insulin are not properly absorbed. Too much insulin entering the bloodstream can cause blood sugar levels to drop drastically. If the body absorbs glucose too quickly and lacks extra blood sugar, hypoglycemia can occur. The slow release of glucose into the bloodstream is also known to cause hypoglycemia.

A hypoglycemic attack occurs suddenly and symptoms can appear during the day or at night. Common symptoms include hunger, nervousness, tremors, and sweating. Others include confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, and anxiety. Headache, irritability, and heart palpitations also indicate signs of a hypoglycemic attack.

Side effects of diabetes medications remain among the causes of a hypoglycemic attack. For example, taking too many doses of a diabetes pill or injecting too much insulin can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. Diabetes pills or insulin can counteract with other medications that treat other conditions and thus cause hypoglycemia. For diabetics, other causes of hypoglycemic attacks can come from changes in physical activity and meals. For example, a person may increase their daily exercise routine without balancing it with eating enough food, thus causing low blood sugar.

Hypoglycemia can also occur suddenly in people who do not have diabetes. In this case, there are two types of hypoglycemic attacks: reactive hypoglycemia and fasting hypoglycemia. Both types share the same symptoms as diabetes-related hypoglycemia, including weakness, hunger, sweating, tremors, and anxiety. Enzyme and endocrine deficiencies cause reactive hypoglycemic attacks. Causes of fasting hypoglycemia include certain medications, tumors, excessive alcohol use, and heart, kidney, and liver disease.

To treat a hypoglycemic attack, diabetics need to control their blood sugar level. A reading of 70 mg/dL or less means levels are too low. Doctors recommend consuming 1/2 cup (about 118 ml) of regular soda, 1/2 cup (118 ml) of fruit juice, four glucose tablets, or up to six pieces of hard candy to bring blood glucose levels up to The normality.

Those experiencing a fasting or reactive hypoglycemic attack may seek treatment by eating small snacks or meals every few hours. Medical experts also recommend following a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy to prevent future attacks. Incorporating regular daily exercise also helps prevent a hypoglycemic attack.

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