Hypoglycemia occurs when a person's blood sugar level suddenly drops below normal. It is especially common among diabetic patients who take insulin, though the condition can also affect non-diabetics. In general, hypoglycemia treatments include increasing dietary sugar intake and taking glucose supplements. A severe case of hypoglycemia may require hospitalization and intravenous (IV) injections of glucose, stabilizing medications, and fluids. Long-term hypoglycemia treatments are different depending on the underlying cause, so it is important for a person to ask a doctor about his or her particular condition and what treatment and prevention strategies are the most appropriate.
An individual who has diabetes, a pancreatic condition, or another health problem that puts him or her at risk of hypoglycemia should keep sugary products handy at all times to combat an acute attack. If symptoms arise, most doctors suggest consuming 0.5 ounces (about 14 grams) of glucose and waiting 15 minutes to see if symptoms improve. Common foods and drinks used as hypoglycemia treatments include sugary candies, honey, and soda. A person can also eat a spoonful of table sugar or dissolve sugar in a glass of water. Foods such as cake and candy bars may help to increase blood glucose, but they tend to act slower.
A doctor may prescribe glucose tablets to a patient who is at an increased risk of a sudden hypoglycemia attack. The tablets deliver glucose in its most accessible form quickly to the bloodstream. It is important to follow prescription information exactly when taking glucose tablets or administering them to someone else to avoid complications of overdose.
If food and tablets fail to relieve symptoms, emergency medical care is needed. A paramedic or emergency room doctor can administer an IV dosage of glucose directly into the bloodstream to relieve symptoms. In some cases, a hormone supplement called glucagon is also given to help regulate the metabolism and flow of glucose in the body. If a patient's heart rate is still very fast or he or she shows signs of dehydration, additional drugs and fluids are provided in the hospital.
Acute hypoglycemia treatments are usually effective at stopping sudden attacks. Following an episode, a patient is usually given explicit instructions about ongoing hypoglycemia treatments and prevention measures. A supply of glucagon and syringes may be prescribed to use at home in the event of another attack. Patients are also given glucose monitors so they will be able to detect changes in blood sugar before hypoglycemia symptoms occur. Regular checkups are vital to track changes in health and to make sure that management plans are working.