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What're the treatments to control hypoglycemia?

For the immediate reaction, a snack containing sugar will raise the blood-glucose level, and an improvement in symptoms should be realized. People who are known to be at risk of severe episodes of hypoglycemia may keep glucagon on hand for emergencies. Glucagon administration stimulates the liver to release large amounts of sugar. It is given by injection and

generally restores blood sugar to an adequate level within 5 to 15 minutes.

The symptoms of hypoglycemia are relieved within minutes of consuming sugar in any form, such as candy or glucose tablets, or of drinking a sweet drink, such as a glass of fruit juice. People with recurring episodes of hypoglycemia, especially those with diabetes, often prefer to carry glucose tablets because the tablets take effect quickly and provide a consistent amount of sugar. Both diabetic and nondiabetic people with hypoglycemia may benefit from consuming sugar followed by a food that provides longer-lasting carbohydrates (such as bread or crackers). When hypoglycemia is severe or prolonged and taking sugar by mouth is not possible, doctors quickly give sugar intravenously to prevent brain damage.

Infants of diabetic mothers that develop low blood sugars are treated with IV glucose solutions to maintain the blood sugar at normal levels. The glucose is slowly tapered over the next 24-48 hours while the infant begins to regulate its blood sugar at normal levels.

If blood-sugar levels are so low in a person that unconsciousness or inability to swallow develops, emergency medical treatment is needed. This is called insulin shock. An injection of glucose solution or the hormone glucagon will be given immediately.

For long-term management, dietary modifications may be necessary to deliver glucose to the body more evenly throughout the day and thereby preventing further hypoglycemic attacks. Small, frequent meals with complex carbohydrates, fiber, and fat; and the avoidance of simple sugars, alcohol, and fruit juice are dietary modifications that may be recommended. Eat meals at regular intervals, and balance extra exercise with extra food.

Surgery is required to treat a pancreatic tumor (insulinoma) that causes hypoglycemia. This sometimes involves removing most of the pancreas. In cases where surgery is not an option, chemotherapy may be used to destroy cancerous cells. Insulin-producing tumors should be removed surgically. However, because these tumors are small and difficult to locate, a specialist should perform the surgery. Before surgery, the person may be given a drug such as diazoxide to inhibit the tumor's insulin production. Sometimes more than one tumor is present, and if the surgeon does not find them all, a second operation may be necessary.

Nondiabetic people who are prone to hypoglycemia often can avoid episodes by eating frequent small meals rather than the usual three meals a day. People prone to hypoglycemia should carry or wear a medical identification bracelet or tag to inform health care professionals of their condition.

More information on hypoglycemia

What is hypoglycemia? - Hypoglycemia is a medical term referring to a pathologic state produced and usually defined by a lower than normal amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
What causes hypoglycemia? - The main cause of hypoglycemia is intentional or accidental overdose of antidiabetic medication, insulin or oral drugs.
What is reactive hypoglycemia? - Reactive hypoglycemia is a condition in which the symptoms of low blood sugar appear 2 to 5 hours after eating foods high in glucose.
What reactive hypoglycemia diet is suggested? - Individuals with reactive hypoglycemia respond favorably to high-carbohydrate, high-fiber, restricted-simple sugar diets.
What is fasting hypoglycemia? - Fasting hypoglycemia, which most commonly occurs among people with diabetes when too much insulin is administered, is potentially very dangerous.
What are the symptoms of hypoglycemia? - Mild hypoglycemia can cause nausea, a jittery or nervous feeling, cold and clammy skin, and a rapid heartbeat. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, and coma.
How is hypoglycemia diagnosed? - A low sugar level in the blood found at the time a person is experiencing typical symptoms of hypoglycemia confirms the diagnosis in a person without diabetes.
What're the treatments for hypoglycemia? - The symptoms of hypoglycemia are relieved within minutes of consuming sugar in any form, such as candy or glucose tablets, or of drinking a sweet drink.
How to prevent hypoglycemia? - People with diabetes should always have ready access to emergency supplies for treating unexpected episodes of hypoglycemia. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005