Please be patient! It may take up to ONE minute to load all the Engines.
Problems? Please contact our support.
Alternative namesInsulin shock; Low blood sugar
DefinitionHypoglycemia occurs when your body's blood sugar, or glucose, is abnormally low. The term insulin shock is used to describe severe hypoglycemia that results in unconsciousness .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Hypoglycemia results when your body's glucose is used up too rapidly, when glucose is released into the bloodstream more slowly than is needed by your body, or when excessive insulin is released into the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone that reduces blood glucose. It is produced by the pancreas in response to increased glucose levels in the blood.
If, during the pregnancy, the mother's blood sugar is persistently high, the fetus' pancreas assists in controlling the excess blood sugar by producing extra insulin. When the infant is born, it no longer gets the mother's glucose, but still produces increased insulin, and the increased insulin drives the infant's blood sugar down to dangerous levels. This is a medical emergency that may result in seizures and damage to the baby's nervous system if not treated.
Signs and tests
TreatmentA snack or drink containing sugar will raise the blood-glucose level, and you should see an immediate improvement in symptoms.
Infants of diabetic mothers that develop low blood sugars are treated with glucose solutions given into the vein to maintain the blood sugar at normal levels. The glucose is slowly reduced over the next 24-48 hours while the infant begins to regulate its blood sugar at normal levels.
If the person's blood-sugar levels are so low that he/she becomes unconscious or unable to swallow, this is called insulin shock, and emergency medical treatment is needed. An injection of glucose solution or the hormone glucagon will be given immediately.
In the longer term, you may need to modify your diet so that you get glucose into your body more evenly throughout the day. This may prevent further hypoglycemic episodes. Small, frequent meals with complex carbohydrates , fiber , and fat ; and avoiding simple sugars , alcohol, and fruit juice are the type of dietary modifications that may be recommended. You should also eat meals at regular intervals, and balance extra exercise with extra food.
If hypoglycemia is caused by an insulinoma (insulin-secreting tumor ), surgery to remove the tumor is the best treatment.
Expectations (prognosis)Severe hypoglycemia can often be avoided by recognizing the early warning signs of the condition and treating yourself rapidly and appropriately. Untreated hypoglycemia can progress to unconsciousness and if the brain is exposed to reduced glucose for a long period of time, there may be permanent damage.
Calling your health care providerGo to the emergency room immediately or call a local emergency number, such as 911, if early signs of hypoglycemia do not improve after you've eaten a snack containing sugar. If a diabetic, or other person known to experience hypoglycemia, becomes unresponsive or you can't wake them, you should also call an emergency number.
PreventionDiabetics should follow their doctors' advice regarding diet, medications, and exercise.
Pregnant diabetic women should maintain careful control of their blood sugar. Gestational diabetes , or diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, is diagnosed by repeat testing of expectant mothers. Upon delivery, routine blood sugar levels are taken from the infant until he/she no longer has low blood sugar.
People who are known to experience hypoglycemia should keep a snack or drink containing sugar available at all times to take as soon as symptoms appear. If symptoms do not improve in 15 minutes, additional food should be eaten. A glucagon kit is available by prescription for episodes of hypoglycemia that respond poorly to other types of treatment.
Update Date: 10/6/2003Tarun Jain, M.D., Endocrinology & Infertility Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT