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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Learning About Hypoglycemia – Low Blood Sugar

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Since my husband got hypoglycemia attack on Thursday two weeks ago for the first time, I keep remind him every morning to make sure he would never miss breakfast before going to work.  Since then he brings food for lunch/dinner and snack from home.  I always remind him to eat every three hours although it's only small meal/snack  Because it's new for me experiencing this case in a family member, I searched about hypoglycomia and found a very helpful link at here in Indonesian and here (NDIC) in English.

According to NDIC, hypoglycemia, also called low blood glucose or low blood sugar, occurs when blood glucose drops below normal levels. Glucose, an important source of energy for the body, comes from food. Carbohydrates are the main dietary source of glucose. Rice, potatoes, bread, tortillas, cereal, milk, fruit, and sweets are all carbohydrate-rich foods.  (For this case, my husband seldom to take breakfast.  He used to have only a glass of coffee before leaving for work.  He eats late in the night before going to sleep, has no breakfast, late to take lunch and dinner, and  has no snack and less to have liquid.)

After a meal, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the body's cells. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the cells use glucose for energy. If a person takes in more glucose than the body needs at the time, the body stores the extra glucose in the liver and muscles in a form called glycogen. The body can use glycogen for energy between meals. Extra glucose can also be changed to fat and stored in fat cells. Fat can also be used for energy.

When blood glucose begins to fall, glucagon-another hormone made by the pancreas-signals the liver to break down glycogen and release glucose into the bloodstream. Blood glucose will then rise toward a normal level. In some people with diabetes, this glucagon response to hypoglycemia is impaired and other hormones such as epinephrine, also called adrenaline, may raise the blood glucose level. But with diabetes treated with insulin or pills that increase insulin production, glucose levels can't easily return to the normal range.

Hypoglycemia can happen suddenly. It is usually mild and can be treated quickly and easily by eating or drinking a small amount of glucose-rich food. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can get worse and cause confusion, clumsiness, or fainting. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, coma (this is what my husband experienced) and even death (thanks God, the firemen came and called 911 when I came back with two gallons of gasoline.  Our car at that time ran out of it.  God sent me an angle--a lady named, Lisa--who drove me to nearest gas station meanwhile other people just passed by and thought my husband was drunk.  I was so mad with their perseption although I knew he took some alchohol baverege (beers) in the afternoon. 

While several thoughts came out in my mind about my husband at that time, finally I got the solid answers in the following day.  He positively got hypoglycemia attack.  There are several kinds of hypoglycemia and its causes.  And from the information I read, the kind of hypoglycemia my husband had was reactive hypoglycemia that is caused by cosmuning less food.  Finally I noticed this signs have appeared after several months he worked at a new job.

(NDIC: Causes and Treatment)

The causes of most cases of reactive hypoglycemia are still open to debate. Some researchers suggest that certain people may be more sensitive to the body's normal release of the hormone epinephrine, which causes many of the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Others believe deficiencies in glucagon secretion might lead to reactive hypoglycemia.

A few causes of reactive hypoglycemia are certain, but they are uncommon. Gastric-or stomach-surgery can cause reactive hypoglycemia because of the rapid passage of food into the small intestine. Rare enzyme deficiencies diagnosed early in life, such as hereditary fructose intolerance, also may cause reactive hypoglycemia.

To relieve reactive hypoglycemia, some health professionals recommend
•eating small meals and snacks about every 3 hours
•being physically active
•eating a variety of foods, including meat, poultry, fish, or nonmeat sources of protein; starchy foods such as whole-grain bread, rice, and potatoes; fruits; vegetables; and dairy products
•eating foods high in fiber
•avoiding or limiting foods high in sugar, especially on an empty stomach (*)

An enclosed picture on the right was taken on July 4th when we went to Downingtown to see fireworks.  At that time I have seen several signs of hypogycemia on him already. 
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