The Effects of low blood sugar on the Body The Effects of low blood sugar on the Body

The Effects of
low blood sugar
on the Body

Every cell in your body needs sugar (glucose) to function. When your blood sugar levels drop too low, your cells become starved for energy. Initially, that can cause minor symptoms, but if you don’t get your blood sugar levels up soon, you’re at risk of serious complications.

Hormonal Response
Hypoglycemia Unawareness
The Answer Is in Your Blood
Mood Changes
Muddled Thinking
Visual Disturbances
Sleep Disturbances
Loss of Consciousness
Tapping into Reserves
Pitter Patter
Unsteady On Your Feet
The Munchies
Clammy Skin

Effects of Low Blood Sugar on the Body

When your blood sugar (glucose) levels fall below the normal range, it’s called hypoglycemia, or insulin shock.

Low blood sugar can happen when you skip a meal. It can also happen if your pancreas releases more insulin than it should after you’ve eaten.

The most common reason for low blood sugar is diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make enough, or your body can’t use it properly. To keep blood sugar levels from rising too much (hyperglycemia), you need the right amount of insulin. With insufficient insulin, your blood sugar levels rise. Too much, and your blood sugar levels can plummet.

Another possible cause of low blood sugar is drinking too much alcohol, especially on an empty stomach. This can interfere with the liver’s ability to release stored glucose into your bloodstream. Hepatitis and other problems with your liver can also lead to low blood sugar. Other causes include kidney disorders, anorexia nervosa, a pancreatic tumor, or adrenal gland disorders.

There are a variety of symptoms of low blood sugar, but the only way to be sure what your blood glucose levels are is by taking a blood glucose test.

Generally, blood sugar levels below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered too low, according to the American Diabetes Association. If you have diabetes, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels often. Low blood sugar can come on quickly, but it can usually be treated easily. However, if you don’t take care of it, it can lead to severe complications and even death.

Digestive, Endocrine, and Circulatory Systems

After you eat, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose to fuel your body. As your sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. The insulin helps glucose travel within your bloodstream to cells throughout your body. If you have insulin-dependent diabetes, you must take the right about of insulin to get the job done. Any excess glucose goes to your liver for storage.

When you go a few hours without eating, blood sugar levels go down. If you have a healthy pancreas, it releases a hormone called glucagon. That tells your liver to process the stored sugars and release them into your bloodstream. If everything works as it should, your blood sugar levels should remain in the normal range until your next meal.

Insufficient blood sugar levels can cause a rapid heartbeat and heart palpitations. However, even if you have diabetes, you may not always have obvious symptoms of low blood sugar. It’s a condition called “hypoglycemia unawareness.” This happens when you experience low blood sugar so often that it changes your body’s response to it. Normally, low blood sugar causes your body to release stress hormones, such as epinephrine. Epinephrine is responsible for those early warning signs, like hunger and shakiness. When low blood sugar happens too frequently, your body may stop releasing stress hormones (hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure, or HAAF). That’s why it’s so important to check your blood sugar levels often.

Central Nervous System

Every cell in your body needs sugar to work properly. It’s your body’s main source of energy. Low blood sugar levels can cause a variety of problems within your central nervous system. Early symptoms include weakness, lightheadedness, and dizziness. You may feel nervous, anxious, or irritable, and you’ll probably be hungry. Lack of coordination, chills, clammy skin, and sweating are common. Tingling or numbness of the mouth may be a sign of low blood sugar. Other symptoms include blurred vision, headache, and confusion. You may have difficulty performing simple tasks. When blood sugar levels drop during the night, you may have nightmares, cry out during sleep, or other unusual behaviors.

Severe low blood sugar is sometimes called insulin shock. Untreated, it can be very dangerous, resulting in seizures, loss of consciousness, or death.

A healthy pancreas responds to low blood sugar by releasing a hormone called glucagon. Your body also releases stress hormones like epinephrine, which give you those early warning signs. Read more.

Hormones trigger your liver to tap into its reserve of glucose and release it into your bloodstream to raise blood sugar levels. Read more.

If you have diabetes, frequent episodes of low blood sugar can change your body’s hormonal response. Consequently, you may not be aware that anything is wrong. Read more.

Rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations could mean that your blood sugar levels are too low. Read more.

The only way to know for sure that your symptoms are caused by low blood sugar is to perform a blood glucose test. Read more.

General weakness, lightheadedness, and dizziness are early warning signs of low blood sugar. Lack of coordination doesn’t help. Read more.

Nervousness, anxiousness, and irritability could signal dropping blood sugar. Read more.

Hunger may be your body’s way of telling you that you need to eat to boost your blood sugar levels. Read more.

Even the simplest of tasks may be difficult due to trouble with concentration and general confusion. Read more.

If you have migraines, this method of birth control may make them worse. Read more.

A common symptom of low blood sugar is blurry vision or other visual disturbances. Read more.

If you have diabetes, a headache may be a sign that you need to boost your blood sugar levels. Read more.

If your blood sugar levels drop while you’re sleeping, you may experience nightmares or cry out in your sleep. Read more.

Without intervention, low blood sugar can cause seizures. Read more.

Untreated, low blood sugar can lead to loss of consciousness. Coma and death are possible. Read more.