Monday, 9 September 2013

Hypoglycemia

As promised, here is the post on hypoglycemia.

What is it? Hypoglcyemia means that you have low blood sugar. The body's normal mechanisms regulate blood glucose levels to be about 4.4 - 6.1 mmol/L. This is done through two hormones: insulin and glucagon. This can get confusing, so I'll try to make it as simple as possible.

When we eat, insulin is released from the pancreas. Insulin takes the glucose we eat and stores it as glycogen, thereby reducing glucose levels after a meal. This helps our body to use the glucose we eat. When our glucose levels get too low (as in, between meals), our pancreas releases glucagon. Glucagon breaks down glycogen into glucose, so that our glucose/sugar levels will be normal (increase) again.

So, what happens during hypoglycemia? Let's assume that you have not eaten for a long time, and your blood sugars are too low. This is hypoglycemia. Now, on a regular basis, your body is very good at regulating glucose levels so that this does not happen. But, if there is simply no glucose to use or your body has been deprived for too long (or in diabetes, if you use too much insulin), The body panics. Low glucose means that you have no fuel, since our bodies use gluocse first for enegy. Moreover, the brain can ONLY use gluocse for energy - other organs can use fat and protein, although these are not preferred. So, low glucose = brain has no energy.

The body responds via the sympathetic nervous system - the 'fight or flight' system. Heart rate increases. We sweat. We panic. We are restless. These are some signs of hypoglycemia. Others include shaking, not able to see (ex. everything becomes 'black'), feeling dizzy, etc. At this point, we usually know that there is a BIG problem happening, so we seek out food. And when I say 'seek', I mean we NEED FOOD RIGH NOW. It's like a switch turns on in the brain that says 'I NEED food now or something terrible will happen'.

We need a fast acting source of glucose in these cases. A cup of orange juice is the best source, because our bodies use this gluocse within minutes. A sugar pill is also good. Other good ideas are peanut butter and cheese.

Of course, it would be great if you can avoid hypoglycemia from happening. I have experienced it twice in the past year, and it literally felt like I am going to die. Both times, this happened when I went for a long time without eating anything. When my blood glucose levels got so low, I could not see anything in front of me - everything went 'black' suddenly. I was sweating like crazy, and I was shaking uncontrollably. I called for 'help' because I felt dizzy, my heart was pounding so strongly, and I felt that I would fall down. I could not see myself, but everyone said I went very pale. I told people that I needed to eat something right away. That's right. I asked for food. I did not even think about it - it just came out of my mouth. It is like my body KNEW that it needed food right away. I drank some orange juice (which I HATE by the way. But I had to do it if I wanted to survive), and this helped me recover. After, I ate something else and felt a lot better. Now I have learned my lesson. I cannot go too long without eating or drinking something, or my glucose levels get too low. Hypoglycemia can be life-threatening. It is serious.

What is the lesson to be learned? It can happen to anyone! Do not leave yourself too long without eating or drinking something. And recognize the signs of hypoglycemia - for yourself or for others. And act quickly. In these cases, sugar (glucose) saves lives. Literally. Food is medicine. I never thought I would see the day when I would say that!

26 comments:

  1. I do not have ED
    Is hypoglycemia dangerous for me ??
    Can hypoglycemia happen if I skip one meal or snack??


    Hamza

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  2. That is why when I am hungry, I feel my brain can not think well and I feel can not concentrate well and so quickly I feel every body cell calling for a boost.

    Jack

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  3. I am using insulin and my doctor educated me thoroughly about hypoglycemia and all those symptoms and he recommended that I keep 3 package of Tim H sugars always in my pockets. Each sugar package equal 5 g and so 3 makes 15g enough to ward off hypoglycemia symptoms

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  4. While I feel sorry that you experienced hypoglycemia, I feel thankful that God blessed you with recovery so you do will never have to experience hypog again


    Mays

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  5. Now proudly you and Me and all of us who recovered can say it outlook""Food is medicine"""

    Recovery is beautiful.

    Nanaraj

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  6. Question
    Do victims of ED recognize the early signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia .
    I doubt as ED is a disease that affect the ability of brain to think rationally and so the judgement is not skewed.
    Glucose is important to feed the brain and promote rational sharp thinking and concentration
    Well searched post Marina


    Yara

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  7. Hello
    I try all my best to read your post regularly even while I am busy with all my research preparing for a Master degree in Psychology as you know.
    As I said your blog is credible and you give the information either from personal experience or after a thorough search of the literatures.
    I am pleased to read Dr Hannon comments.
    I trust Dr Hannon's comments here are big asset to this blog and many will benefit.
    Thank you Dr Hannon and thanks Marina for this blog

    With my humble respect to Dr Hannon and Marina and every knowledgeable person.

    Mohammad

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  8. I would like to thank Dr Hannon even I do not know her personally as I not from Hamilton area.
    I suffered a lot from ED and I can not remember how many times I was almost fainting and my doctors told me low blood sugar to meet body needs especially brain and heart.
    I was told ED cause low sugar and potassium and this can trigger fatal heart attack or sudden death from abnormal heart beats.
    Good news I am recovered and my goal is keep healthy at any cost and at any size.
    I will never put my brain under stress of low sugars and my brain and heart had to either fight or flight again.


    Thanks Dr Hannon and Marina


    Recovered ED victim for 6 years

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  9. I enjoy and learn from this blog.
    Professor Hannon will be an excellent resource to all us if she has the time.
    Thanks Prof Hannon.


    Ivanka

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  10. I am 76 Type 2 using insulin at night(Lantus) and I am aware of hypoglycemia and I could feel all symptoms.
    Prevention is the Key as Prof Hannon and Marina says.

    Sam Ibrahim
    Burnhamthorpe,Mississauaga

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  11. You are right
    Even though I do not have diabetes but I can see and feel the benefits of frequent meals and the danger of skipping meals or restriction.
    I can see how dangerous hypoglycemia could be.
    I welcome and thank Prof Hannon.

    Zak

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  12. AS you may recall, I was telling you "I have mild ED" but honestly now after my recovery I can tell that I was very ill and I was not aware. Several times I felt about to faint. I will never once my doctor had me take blood test in his office and I was fainted and they gave me IV glucose 50%(my sugar went down to 2.3) till ambulance came in and took me to hospital.
    Recovery make you feel safe
    How wonderful recovery is


    Anne

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  13. Marina
    You know my daughter never been formally diagnosed with ED but before I met you on this blog, and I learnt about disordered eating and I supported her using all the tips you talked about ,she is now normal but I can tell you several times I noted almost about to faint from been exhausted and tired and not eating and lying on me.
    I do believe hypoglycemia is happening to those not eating right.

    Let me thank you again Marina for helping my daughter

    JP
    A thankful mother

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  14. I like the picture .Sugar is life saver for hypoglycemic!!
    Well written and well searched post.

    Sandra D

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  15. I agree with you
    All of us need learn a lesson and avoid any risk to our health

    Jenn
    Welland

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  16. Since I was in my rehab program recovering from alcohol and depression, I learnt the best way to avoid low sugar and dizziness by eating small frequent meals and this has been working.


    Carlos

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  17. I am glad you wrote this post showing us that low sugar is serious whether you have ED or not and so We need to be aware and avoid it as it can have serious consequences
    I do advise my clients to eat every 3 hours and never delay(not only never skip)breakfast.
    Good work Marina. Please keep up.

    Kelly W
    Therapist ,TO

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  18. The gift from God is human able to feel the symptoms of hypoglycemia when sugar started to get low but if not recognized or ignored and sugar gets lower(I guess below 2 )patient loses conscious and if not saved by ambulance.
    I learnt this as my grandmother is diabetic and taking insulin and 2 weeks ago ,We found her unconscious at night. Ambulance told us if waited minutes more ,would been dead

    Excellent post to raise awareness Marina.
    Prevention is the key before too late

    Mary
    Mississauga

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  19. From just reading your blog, one can tell how knowledgeable, articulate and caring you are.
    Thank you for taking the time to raise awareness of every body about hypoglycemia.
    I was alcoholic as you may recall ,and I used to have reactive hypoglycemia after and I was not allowed to drive a car or run a machine or cook at the kitchen if I am not feeling well and only after I eat my snack!!

    Excellent topic Marina

    Colorado

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  20. I want to thank you ALL for reading and commenting, as well as being so loving and supportive. I want you all to know that I read every comment, and I remember all of you! I remember Carlos and Colorado and how strong they were to battle with alcohol. And Mays with depression, who is doing so well now. Also, Kapoor and Nanraj who have come so far. Anne and recovered ED victim who fought for their lives. Kelly the therapist who shares her knowledge. Mary who always encourages us all. Jenn, Sandra D, Zak, Sam Ibrahim, Ivanka, Mohammed, Jp, Yara, Hamza, Jack, Hend, Sasha, Sorina, Oswaldo, SK, CP the nurse, Gerry, Horta, Lillian, Lenus, Blanchette, Sally, Eric, Sebestian, Shady, Shishgeri, and everyone else! I know and remember all of you and I cannot thank you enough for all your support and love! I wish the best for all of you. God bless your love and service to me. I am strong in recovery because of all your support everyone!

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  21. "What is the lesson to be learned? It can happen to anyone! Do not leave yourself too long without eating or drinking something. And recognize the signs of hypoglycemia - for yourself or for others. And act quickly. In these cases, sugar (glucose) saves lives. Literally. Food is medicine. I never thought I would see the day when I would say that"



    Marina
    On behalf of all your reader ,let me congratulate you for your resilience and attitude ,altruism.
    Look ,I quote your post above ,who else can say better than what you said.
    I pray for you and wish you all the best.

    Lenus

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  22. I am also one of your regular reader even I do not leave a comment that often.
    I am impressed with your motivation to recover and conquer a serious disease and to show every body that WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IF WE CHOOSE TO

    Anastashia

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  23. WE all love you Marina
    Keep going and God bless you.
    Yes We do not know you personally but all of us your friends.

    Lillian

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  24. I agree ,We never met you face to face but We know you very well through your wonderful blog and we respect you highly
    Keep up


    Horta

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  25. I am always looking forward to read your blog.I read one post new and one from previous posts weekly.I make a note of tips from your expereineces in life .
    Not surprising how life can be challenging

    Have a good WE Marina

    Shady
    Mississauga

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  26. I really appreciate this post. ive been suffering with anorexia for six years but have gained weight due to constant hypogylcemic episodes. ive been told they are just panic attacks, but my panic attacks always occur when my blood sugar is very low or if I skipped a meal (more than 6 hr fasting) do you have any insight to how to perhaps heal a metabolism thats been so injured due to years of malnutrition?

    ReplyDelete

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