What are the Most Common Causes of Hypoglycemia?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2019
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Hypoglycemia is a medical condition in which the body's glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too low. Some potential symptoms of hypoglycemia include intense feelings of hunger, nervousness, and shakiness. Medications used to treat diabetes are a common cause of hypoglycemia. Other potential causes include consuming too much alcohol or hormonal irregularities involving the endocrine system. Treatment involves obtaining an accurate diagnosis and treating the underlying causes of hypoglycemia.

Diabetes is a disease that prevents the body from properly regulating the production and usage of glucose. In most cases, the diabetic patient has too much glucose in the blood, referred to as hyperglycemia. Sometimes, the medications taken to lower blood sugar cause glucose levels to fall too much, leading to low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Other medications may also interfere with normal blood sugar levels, so it is very important for the patient to discuss all medications with a doctor.

Consuming excess amounts of alcohol can sometimes be one of the contributing causes of hypoglycemia. This typically happens when a person drinks heavily without having any food in the stomach. Excessive drinking without any food in the stomach prevents the body from releasing the glucose that has been stored into the bloodstream.


Endocrine disorders are also among the causes of hypoglycemia. If the pituitary gland or adrenal glands, which are responsible for hormone production and secretion, are not functioning properly, low blood sugar may be the result. This is seen more often in children than in adults who suffer from hypoglycemia.

Severe illnesses are among the many potential causes of hypoglycemia. Liver diseases, such as hepatitis, often lead to low blood sugar levels. Kidney disease can also be a reason for a decline in glucose levels. Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia can have negative effects on all body systems and are among some of the more well-known causes of hypoglycemia.

Rarely, one of the causes of hypoglycemia may be a tumor found in the pancreas. This condition is not very common among the general population. There is, however, an increased risk of this type of tumor among patients who have undergone the weight-loss surgery known as gastric bypass surgery. Blood sugar irregularities and fluctuations can be a warning sign of many potential health issues, so obtaining an accurate diagnosis is of the utmost importance. In most cases, a simple blood test is all that is necessary to diagnose hypoglycemia.



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