Hypoglycemia or an abnormally low blood sugar level is a common complication among diabetic patients. People with diabetes have poor control of their blood sugar level due to either a relative or absolute deficiency in insulin, the hormone that helps the body utilize glucose effectively.
Hypoglycemia may also occur in other disease states such as hormonal disorders or Addison's disease and due to starvation, malnutrition or poisoning.
The symptoms of hypoglycemia mainly arise due to over activity of the sympathetic nervous system which occurs in response to a fall in blood sugar. Some examples of such symptoms include:
As the blood sugar levels fall, the hunger centre in the brain may be stimulated, giving rise to intense hunger and noises made by the stomach called borborygmus. Nausea and sometimes retching can also result.
In newborn babies with hypoglycemia the symptoms include irritability, crying, jitters and jerky movements, difficulty in breathing, sweating, cold extremities (hands and feet), increased sleepiness, bluish discoloration of the hands and feet (cyanosis), refusal to feed and convulsions.
The brain is especially sensitive to a decreasing blood sugar level. Since the brain has a very minimal glucose reserve, it depends on the continuous availability of glucose and symptoms may manifest soon after the blood sugar drops. Some of these include: