hypoglycemia symptoms

A More Thorough Rundown of Hypoglycemia Symptoms

As explained in the previous article, hypoglycemia may happen for many different reasons, yet the symptoms stay similar throughout. Here’s a list of some of the more common symptoms that those with hypoglycemia may experience, with a short explanation as to the various factors involved behind the symptoms, or why hypoglycemia behaves the way it does.

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Adrenergic Symptoms

These are symptoms that have to do with adrenaline and noradrenaline, more specifically the release of it. Adrenaline and noradrenaline are hormones that govern the adrenal system within the body, and affect things like pulse and blood pressure, while also being responsible for the fight-or-flight response that can take over our body in a matter of minutes. Naturally, the symptoms are akin to that of said response, and include, but are not limited to:

  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Shaky hands
  • Racing heart
  • Hunger

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These symptoms usually come as part of a set, and can be caused by other factors such as anxiety, a panic attack, or even an excess of caffeine intake. It is easy to mistake hypoglycemia for other conditions due to their similarities, so ask yourself these questions in case you have trouble telling them apart:

  1. When was the last time I ate a meal?
  2. What was in the meal?
  3. Am I having feelings of anxiety?
  4. Is this due to external factors rather than internal?
  5. Is this a side-effect of the medication I’m taking? (Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds)
  6. Did I just drink anything with caffeine in it? (Coffee, tea, energy drinks)

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If the answers to the first two questions are “Some time ago” and “A lot of carbohydrates” then it stands to reason that hypoglycemia could be an explanation. HOWEVER, these questions should be merely taken as a general diagnosis rather than strict guidelines. The answers to the other four questions are helpful in indicating if the source of the symptoms is external and largely unrelated to actual hypoglycemia.

Note that hypoglycemia in this case is usually not a certain thing, but rather a result of the above symptoms manifesting consistently while having a low level of measured blood glucose.

Neuroglycopenic Symptoms

These are symptoms of a neurological nature that manifest due to a shortage of glucose in the brain, also known as glycopenia. The usage of “neurological” here means that what is affected is of a mental nature rather than a physical one, and the symptoms involved may be difficult to ascertain from one perspective. Only from a combined visual and verbal observation of the patient can a more holistic picture be formed. Among the symptoms to look out for are: 

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes/mood swings
  • Weakness, exhaustion, dizziness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Personality change/bizarre behaviour
  • Amnesia

These symptoms may not happen all at once, and someone does not have to exhibit the entire range of symptoms in order to be considered neuroglycopenic. Rather, one should watch out for a low level of measured blood glucose while exhibiting these symptoms consistently.

Once again, this is a reminder that the information presented here is not a substitute for proper medical advice by a qualified doctor, and should be treated as very loose guidelines. You are strongly advised to seek medical help should you think you are suffering from hypoglycemia.