Hypoglycemia describes a low blood glucose level occurring usually in a person with diabetes mellitus. It is one of the most common types of hypoglycemia seen in emergency departments and hospitals.
Hypoglycemia occurs when:
• The 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 produced by the beta cells of the pancreas that permits glucose to enter cells and helps the body use glucose for energy. Insulin controls the amount of glucose in the blood.
Hypoglycemia is relatively common in persons with diabetes. It occurs when:
• too much insulin is taken
• too little food
• excessive physical activity
In general, hypoglycemia occurs when a treatment to lower the elevated blood glucose of diabetes inaccurately matches the body's physiological need, and therefore causes the glucose to fall to a below-normal level.
Diabetic hypoglycemia can occur in any person with diabetes who takes any medicine to lower their blood glucose, but severe hypoglycemia occurs most often in people with type 1 diabetes who must take insulin for survival. In type 1 diabetes, iatrogenic [caused by medicine] hypoglycemia is more appropriately viewed as the result of the interplay of insulin excess and compromised glucose counterregulation rather than as absolute or relative insulin excess alone. Hypoglycemia can also be caused by sulfonylureas in people with type 2 diabetes, although it is far less common because glucose counterregulation generally remains intact in people with type 2 diabetes. Severe hypoglycemia rarely, if ever, occurs in people with diabetes treated only with diet, exercise, or insulin sensitizers.
For people with insulin-requiring diabetes, hypoglycemia is one of the recurrent hazards of treatment. It limits the achievability of normal glucoses with...