Low blood sugar is also known as hypoglycemia. It occurs when blood sugar levels drop below normal levels. However, the blood sugar level defining hypoglycemia can be variable. For diabetics, hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels are below 3.9 mmol/l or 70 mg/dl. For others, it occurs at 2.8 mmol/l or 50 mg/dl, and in newborns, the levels are 2.2 mmol/l (40 mg/dl) or 3.3 mmol/l (60 mg/dl) if symptoms of hypoglycemia are present.
The commonest cause of low blood sugar is the medications used to treat diabetes mellitus. The risk increases among diabetics who take the medications and eat less, exercise more, or consume alcohol. To prevent low blood sugar among diabetics, the dosage of their medications can be matched with their diet, exercise routines, and lifestyle habits. Diabetics also test their glucose levels if they suspect that they are low.
Other causes of hypoglycemia include certain tumors like insulinoma, kidney failure, hypothyroidism, liver disease, starvation, reactive hypoglycemia, severe infections, and drugs. Hypoglycemia can be treated by consuming foods that contain high amounts of simple sugars or by taking dextrose. If the patient is unable to take medication orally, a glucagon injection may help.
Low Blood Sugar Symptom #1: Palpitations or Tachycardia
Palpitations refer to an abnormally hard, fast, or irregular heartbeat. Palpitations can occur during times of exertion and are observed in many conditions, such as anxiety, hyperthyroidism, and coronary heart disease. Tachycardia is the medical term for an abnormally fast heartbeat.
Some associated symptoms of palpitations and tachycardia include breathlessness, sweating, dizziness, headaches, and chest pain.
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