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What are the Different Ways of Treating Hypoglycemia?

By L. Whitaker
Updated May 17, 2024
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Methods of treating hypoglycemia can be categorized as short-term and long-term. Short-term, or immediate, ways to treat a hypoglycemic episode involve raising the body's blood sugar by ingesting a food or liquid high in sugar, by taking glucose tablets, or by an injection of glucose. A long-term approach to treating hypoglycemia includes diagnosing and treating the underlying medical condition of which hypoglycemic episodes are only a symptom.

Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the body experiences an unusually low level of glucose, or blood sugar, which impairs brain function. This is usually associated with the medical condition called diabetes, although sometimes it occurs in individuals without diabetes when there is another underlying condition. These hidden conditions include hepatitis, kidney disorders, and endocrine problems. Initial symptoms of hypoglycemia might include some combination of sweating, shaking, anxious feelings, hunger, or heart palpitations. More severe symptoms could include confusion, blurred vision, double vision, seizures, or loss of consciousness.

Hypoglycemia is not a disease in itself; rather, it is a symptom that indicates a medical problem. Isolated incidents of hypoglycemia can occasionally happen as a result of fasting, excessive alcohol consumption, or intense exercise without adequate food intake. Recurring hypoglycemic episodes, however, could indicate a chronic medical condition. In this case, simply treating hypoglycemia one episode at a time could be ineffective, as these incidents are likely to continue until the underlying cause is addressed.

Short-term methods for treating hypoglycemia focus on rapidly increasing the body's glucose level by ingesting sugar. If the individual is still conscious, he or she can be given fruit juice or non-diet soda to drink, or a quick-fix food to eat such as raisins or hard candy. People who are prone to hypoglycemic episodes might carry glucose tablets or injections of glucose, and they might also be wearing medical alert jewelry indicating their condition. If an individual known to have diabetes or hypoglycemia issues is unconscious or very sleepy, bystanders should call for emergency assistance. In more severe episodes, treating hypoglycemia could require hospitalization to stabilize the individual's blood sugar with intravenous glucose.

In the long term, individuals might be able to avoid repeated episodes of hypoglycemia by incorporating changes to their dietary content as well as how much and how often they eat. Doctors might also recommend medication changes or lifestyle changes. The key to a long-term strategy for hypoglycemia lies in ruling out serious medical conditions that cause hypoglycemic episodes.

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