Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)
What is hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia may be a condition by itself, or may be a complication of diabetes or another disorder. It is most often seen as a complication of diabetes, which is sometimes referred to as insulin reaction.
What causes hypoglycemia?Causes of hypoglycemia in children with diabetes may include the following:
- too much medication
- a missed meal
- a delayed meal
- too little food eaten, as compared to the amount of insulin taken
- more exercise than usual
Other causes of hypoglycemia in children are rare. However, hypoglycemia may occur after strenuous exercise, during prolonged fasting, or as a result of taking certain medications or abusing alcohol.
Why is hypoglycemia a concern?The brain depends on blood glucose as its main source of fuel. Too little glucose can impair the brain's ability to function. Severe or prolonged hypoglycemia may result in seizures and serious brain injury.
What are the symptoms of hypoglycemia?The following are the most common symptoms for hypoglycemia. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- pale skin color
- sudden moodiness or behavior changes, such as crying for no apparent reason
- clumsy or jerky movements
- difficulty paying attention, or confusion
- tingling sensations around the mouth
How is hypoglycemia diagnosed?In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, certain blood tests are performed to diagnose hypoglycemia.
When a child with diabetes has symptoms of hypoglycemia, then the cause is usually diagnosed as a complication of diabetes, or insulin reaction.
For those who have symptoms of hypoglycemia and do not have diabetes, the disorder is diagnosed by:
- measuring blood glucose levels while the child is experiencing the symptoms.
- observing that the symptoms are relieved when the child eats food with a high content of sugar.
Treatment for hypoglycemia:Specific treatment for hypoglycemia will be determined by your child's physician based on:
- your child's age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disorder
- your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disorder
- your opinion or preference
To treat low blood sugar immediately, your child should eat or drink something that has sugar in it, such as orange juice, milk, or a hard candy. For children who do not have diabetes, treatment for hypoglycemia may include:
- avoiding foods high in carbohydrates
- eating smaller meals more frequently
- frequent snacks
- eating a variety of healthy foods
- regular exercise
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