Hypoglycemia is occurs when your child’s blood glucose levels drop too low. While the condition is usually diagnosed as a complication of diabetes, it can develop in children who do not have diabetes (although it is much less common). Glucose is vital to the healthy development of your child’s brain. If blood sugar levels drop too low, his/her brain cells and muscles do not have enough fuel to function properly. The signs of hypoglycemia in children can be diverse and require immediate attention to avoid further medical complications.
What are the signs of non-diabetic hypoglycemia in children?
Your child may show signs of the following symptoms:
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fast heart beat
- Trouble paying attention (focusing on tasks)
- Seizures (convulsions)
- Pale Skin
How is non-diabetic hypoglycemia in children diagnosed?
- Health History: Medical professional will ask about your child’s symptoms and your family’s medical history. Common questions may be about the frequency and origin of your child’s symptoms, the average time between your child’s meals and if any other children in your family have the condition.
- Blood and Urine Tests: testing your child’s blood and urine may help descern the cause of your child’s hypoglycemia.
- Fasting Test: Medical professionals will observe your child during a period of time where they will not eat. This test is done to see if and when hypoglycemia occurs.
- Other Tests: Pictures of your child’s brain may be taken using CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A liver biopsy may also be done involving a small amount of tissue taken from the liver being sent to the lab for testing.
How is non-diabetic hypoglycemia in children treated?
The treatment your child will receive will depend on the cause of the hlypoglycemia. The first step of treatment is to raise blood sugar by drinking or eating food with carbohydrates. Some children may need to be given glucose through an IV at a hospital Feeding children often may also ensure that their blood sugar levels do not get too low. Your child hypoglycemia may go away with treatment as she/he grows. However, other cases involve long-term treatment to keep blood sugar levels stable. Children may also need to take medicine to manage the hypoglycemia. If you child has a tumour on their pancreas, they will require surgery to remove this growth. The pancreas in the organ in the body which produces insulin.
If your child has ketotic hypoglycemia (accelerated starvation, which usually presents itself between 18 months and 5 years of age) he/she will need to be fed often. Usually treatment consists of a high-protein, high-carbohydrate diet.
What are the risks?
If your child’ hypoglycemia is left untreated it can have detrimental effects on their growth and development. Hypoglycemia that occurs for long periods of time can cause mental retardation or seizures.