Christie Clinic - Medicine for Your Life

Our website is currently having technical difficulties. To view the site, please click here

Health Encyclopedia

Health Encyclopedia

An invaluable resource of health information.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low.

  • Alternative Names

    Insulin shock; Low blood sugar

  • Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Hypoglycemia occurs when:

    • Your body's sugar (glucose) is used up too quickly
    • Glucose is released into the bloodstream too slowly
    • Too much insulin is released into the bloodstream

    Insulin is a hormone that reduces blood sugar. It is produced by the pancreas in response to increased glucose levels in the blood.

    Hypoglycemia is relatively common in persons with diabetes. It occurs when:

    • You take too much insulin or diabetes medicine
    • You don't eat enough food
    • You suddenly increase your exercise without increasing the amount of food you eat

    Relative hypoglycemia is a fairly common condition in which a newborn's blood sugar is low. Babies born to mothers with diabetes may have severe hypoglycemia.

    Idiopathic hypoglycemia is hypoglycemia that occurs without a known cause. People with this type of hypoglycemia do not have diabetes.

    Hypoglycemia may also be caused by:

  • Symptoms

    Other symptoms that may be associated with this disease:

  • Signs and tests

    Home monitoring of blood sugar will show readings lower than 50 mg/dL.

    Serum glucose test will be low.

  • Treatment

    Treatment depends on the cause.

    In people with diabetes who take medication that lowers blood sugar, a snack or drink containing sugar will raise the blood glucose level. Try to drink no more than 4 ounces of juice or sugar soda. You should see an immediate improvement in symptoms. If you do not, check blood sugar and repeat after 15 minutes. Overtreatment of low blood sugar can cause problems with high blood sugar in people with diabetes.

    Persons with severe hypoglycemia are treated with glucose injections or the hormone glucagon. Immediate treatment is needed to prevent serious complications or death.

    Your doctor may tell you to change your diet so that you get more even amounts of glucose into your body throughout the day. This may prevent further episodes of low blood sugar. You may be told to eat small, frequent meals with complex carbohydrates, fiber, and fat and to avoid simple sugars, alcohol, and fruit juice.

    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.

  • Complications

    Untreated, hypoglycemia from too much insulin can lead to loss of consciousness and coma. Severe hypoglycemia is a medical emergency that may result in seizures and permanent damage to the nervous system if not treated. Severe hypoglycemia that results in unconsciousness is also called insulin shock.

    Learn to recognize the early warning signs of hypoglycemia and treat yourself quickly and appropriately.

  • Calling your health care provider

    Go 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.

    Get immediate medical help if a person with diabetes or a history of hypoglycemia loses alertness or if you can't wake them up.

  • Prevention

    If you have diabetes, make sure you follow your doctor's advice regarding diet, medications, and exercise.

    If you have a history of hypoglycemia, you 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, eat more food. A glucagon kit is available for those who have episodes of hypoglycemia that don't respond well to other types of treatment.

  • References

    Cryer PE, Davis SN, Shamoon H. Hypoglycemia in diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2003; 26(6): 1902-1912.

    Cryer PE. Glucose Homeostasis and Hypoglycemia. In: Kronenberg HM, Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR. Kronenberg: Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 33.

Review Date: 5/20/2009

Reviewed By: Reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. Also reviewed by Deborah Wexler, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Endocrinologist, Massachusetts General Hospital.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris Photo Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris
727 East Court Street Paris, IL 61944 Dermatology: 366-1248; Vein and Vascular: 366-2670
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on University Photo Christie Clinic on University
101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
Billing Services: (217) 366-1382
Toll Free: (888) 391-0412
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care
1801 West Windsor Road Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 366-8000
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant Photo Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant
1400 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 366-1200
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Rantoul Photo Christie Clinic in Rantoul
209 West Borman Drive Rantoul, IL 61866 (217) 892-9671
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care
1001 Commercial Drive Mahomet, IL 61853 Main Number: (217) 586-6600 Convenient Care: (217)366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Tuscola Photo Christie Clinic in Tuscola
300 North Main Street Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-9258
Christie Clinic CU Sleep Photo CU Sleep
1207 South Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 355-1684
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic Cancer Center Photo Christie Clinic Cancer Center
109 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 366-5180
Christie Clinic Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan) Photo Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan)
2901 West Kirby Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care
1710 East Windsor Road Urbana, IL 61802 (217) 344-9440
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan
800 North Logan Avenue Danville, IL 61832 (217) 431-8930
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Fox Drive Photo Christie Clinic on Fox Drive
2110 Fox Drive, Suite B Champaign, IL 61820
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic Photo Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic
1109 B North State Street Monticello, IL 61856 (217) 366-1304
Gibson Area Hospital
1120 N Melvin Gibson City, IL 60936 (217) 784-2240
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mattoon Photo Christie Clinic in Mattoon
105 B Professional Plaza Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 345-3000
Christie Clinic Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System Photo Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System
1000 Health Center Drive Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 258-2588
Christie Clinic The Champaign SurgiCenter Photo The Champaign SurgiCenter
1702 S. Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 326-2030
Christie Clinic The Carle Foundation Hospital Photo The Carle Foundation Hospital
611 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 383-3311
Iroquois Memorial Hospital
200 E. Fairman Ave. Watseka, IL 60970 (815) 432-5841
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Savoy Photo Christie Clinic in Savoy
501 North Dunlap Avenue Savoy, IL 61874 Transformations: (217) 366-7460 Internal Medicine: (217) 366-5434 Ophthalmology: (217) 366-1250
Christie Clinic on West Park Street
1405 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 217-366-1237
Christie Clinic in Monticello
107 West Main Street Monticello, IL 61856 217.762.3352
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Decatur Photo Christie Clinic in Decatur
100 South Water Street Suite 103 Decatur, IL 62523 217-362-0661- telephone
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care
3545 North Vermilion Street Danville, IL 61832 (217) 442-8611