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Hypoglycemia Causes

What leads to low blood glucose levels

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a disorder that most commonly affects people with diabetes, but it can also affect those without diabetes. People who do not have diabetes but who exhibit signs and/or symptoms of hypoglycemia may need to undergo testing to pinpoint the cause.

In people with diabetes—both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes—a hypoglycemic event is a daily possibility. Even when taking steps to keep your blood glucose in an acceptable range (eating properly, taking medication, and exercising), it is possible that your blood glucose may go too low. Therefore, part of managing diabetes includes learning how to identify the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Some possible causes of hypoglycemia, especially if you have diabetes, are:

  • Too few carbohydrates at meals: Having smaller-than-usual amounts of carbohydrate at a meal can make your blood glucose level drop too low. Work with a dietitian to identify the right amount of carbohydrates for you, taking into consideration your medications.
  • Skipping meals: Similar to eating too few carbohydrates, skipping meals entirely prevents your body from getting the energy it needs from glucose.
  • Strenuous physical activity: Exercising more than usual—especially if you haven't eaten enough carbohydrates at a meal—can cause a hypoglycemic episode.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol: When you drink, your body isn't able to metabolize glucose as well as it should. Therefore, it's possible that your blood glucose level will drop low.
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Hypoglycemia Diagnosis