The Physiology of Hypoglycemia

Many people are of the assumption that hypoglycemia is a condition that is the opposite of the condition called diabetes mellitus. This is not true; hypoglycemia is low blood sugar, or low blood glucose, which is a symptom of diabetes when your glucose is below normal. The following tips will help you to understand the physiology of hypoglycemia in relation to diabetes.

One reason a person would become hypoglycemic could be that you just haven’t eaten in a while, and your blood sugar has dropped below normal. Another reason that your blood sugar might drop is that your body may have produced an overabundance of insulin, which carried more than enough glucose out of the blood and into the cells of the body.

Hypoglycemia is normally associated with diabetes mellitus type 1 and type 2; however, anyone can experience low blood sugar from time to time. If you miss a meal, you may get that nauseated feeling. Your first instinct might be not to eat, because you feel like you might get physically sick. The fact is, you need to eat when you feel this way, because nausea is a symptom of low blood sugar. If you frequently have hypoglycemic episodes, you should check your blood glucose level at regular intervals. Normally, eating 6 small meals a day, or 3 meals and 3 snacks per day will prevent the onset of hypoglycemia.

If you forget to eat, you may be reminded by feeling shaky. That shaky feeling is another symptom of hypoglycemia in diabetics and non-diabetics. You get that shaky feeling when you are hypoglycemic because your muscle cells are starving for nourishment. In order for your bodily functions to continue working and for your muscles to work they need to be fed. When your body has used up its reserves of stored glycogen to make glucose, through the process of gluconeogenesis (making of new sugar), in the muscles and liver your muscles will send the message to your brain that you need to eat. Shaking will certainly get your attention to eat a meal or a snack.

You cannot always prevent episodes of hypoglycemia in diabetes, but if you are consistent in feeding your body at specified times you are more likely to control your diabetes and prevent your blood sugar from dropping to below normal levels. Many people try to manage their diabetes so tightly that they can’t control it at all. It is often better to relax a bit and just eat at scheduled times. More importantly, eating foods that stay in your digestive tract longer will help to keep you satisfied longer and will help to keep your blood glucose levels within normal limits.

Another symptom of hypoglycemia you might experience is irritability, or the inability to concentrate. Your brain depends solely on glucose for nourishment, and when your brain is starving for food you may lose some cognitive ability. You may not be able to think or reason things out as well. You might not be able to make important decisions until you have eaten something, because your brain cannot function appropriately without being fed glucose.

As a diabetic you may fluctuate between low and elevated blood sugars. The best way to control your diabetes mellitus is to split your allotted calories into several mini-meals so that you are feeding your body at regular intervals. It is also important to balance your exercise with your eating to prevent hypoglycemic episodes. If you are going out for a walk or a run, make sure that you either have just eaten within 30 minutes of exercise, or take a snack with you that you can eat if you feel the symptoms coming on. If you are an insulin dependent diabetic, you will need to eat before exercising, if you took your insulin within 30 minutes of exercise. The combination of exercise and insulin could induce low blood sugar levels.

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