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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Hypoglycemia
      Category : Health Centers > Diabetes


Alternate Names : Low Blood Sugar, Low Blood Glucose

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Hypoglycemia is the condition that occurs when blood sugar, or glucose, levels drop below normal.

What is going on in the body?

Blood sugar levels drop when people don't eat for a long time, or when they have complications of diabetes and other diseases. The blood glucose level is affected by the hormones insulin and glucagon. An imbalance of these hormones can cause blood sugar levels to fall too low. When the blood sugar falls too low, hypoglycemia develops.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Hypoglycemia usually occurs in people with diabetes. When people have diabetes, the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the insulin made is not effective. Blood sugar rises and builds up in the blood. People with diabetes take insulin or oral medications to keep their blood sugar down. If a person with diabetes takes too much medication, misses meals, or doesn't eat enough food, the person can become hypoglycemic.

Rarely, hypoglycemia can occur in people who do not have diabetes. Hypoglycemia can occur in early pregnancy. People can also become hypoglycemic if they fast for a long time or exercise for an extended period. People taking certain medications, such as beta-blockers or aspirin, may become hypoglycemic more easily. Sometimes people who are alcoholics or binge drinkers can become hypoglycemic.


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Hypoglycemia: Symptoms & Signs

Author: Terry Mason, MPH
Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
Date Reviewed: 09/20/01

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