Being HypoAware: the behaviour and signs of hypoglycemia

1. Early Warning Signs of Hypoglycemia

What you had for dinner last night can play a significant role in how you feel today. The primary fuel for the brain that plays a role in virtually every aspect of your life, is a steady supply of glucose. When glucose levels in the blood begin to drop, you’ll often feel lightheaded, shaky and experience headaches, excessive sweating, irritability and even depression. In worse case scenarios, low glucose levels sustained over extended periods of time can result in marked personality changes, mood swings and even a coma.

2. Know Your Body

Even though your body can handle extreme changes in diet and health, it prefers to keep things on an even keel. Through a series of checks and balances, your body will let you know when things aren’t right. For instance, significant drops in your blood glucose levels will usually result in corresponding drops in energy, enthusiasm, temperature regulation and personality changes. If you feel that you’re not your “self,” it could be that you’re suffering from hypoglycemia. Try eating something sweet like a few pieces of hard candy, 1/2 cup of fruit juice or commercially prepared glucose tablets. If the feeling persists, contact your physician.

3. Your Appearance

Your physical appearance is your “mirror of health.” Whatever you’re feeling inside will often times reflect how you look on the outside. Acute drops in blood sugar typically result in a sallow, “washed out” appearance due to fluctuations in blood pressure, nutrition and emotional health. Furthermore, if you’ve experienced profuse sweating or diarrhea over a 24-hour period, you could be dehydrated and depleted of important electrolytes that regulate the body’s functions. If you’re concerned about what you see in the mirror, try drinking more water over the course of the day and eat some simple carbohydrates like hard candy or fruit juice.

4. Pay Attention to Behavior Changes and Mood Swings

In addition to the myriad of physical symptoms underlying hypoglycemia, if your blood sugar is low, you may experience sudden unexplained moodiness, crying, difficulty with paying attention or mental confusion. All of these are the brain and nervous system’s way of telling you that it’s short of fuel. Long before you feel these emotional symptoms, your body will send out warnings in the form of uncontrolled sweating, hunger, headaches and pale skin color. Pay attention to all of these warnings and contact your physician if you feel like something is out of the ordinary. If left unchecked, they could progress into permanent impairments.

5. Depression

While many people are familiar with the physical symptoms of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, they’re often surprised to learn that it can also be responsible for a number of emotional and psychological symptoms such as dizziness, mental confusion and depression. Since the brain depends on glucose for proper functioning, it’s no surprise that hypoglycemia can be responsible for mood swings and depression. Glucose is also important for proper functioning of the nervous system, so low concentrations may result in tingling in the feet, hands and even the face.

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4 Responses to Being HypoAware: the behaviour and signs of hypoglycemia

  1. This was a really informative post and great for anyone who suspects that may have hypoglycemia. I have a friend with this condition and from what she has told me it seems that many more people may not be aware that they have the condition too. By knowing the early warning signs and the symptoms of hypoglycemia, more people can be diagnosed and begin to make positive changes to improve their health and wellbeing.

  2. I get light headed and nauseas when I don’t eat… is this a key indicator of hypoglycaemia or can you get this without it? I’m kind of worried now.

  3. rubiedickson says:

    This post is actually really relevant to a campaign I’m currently running called Give Blood UNSW (link here: givebloodunsw.wordpress.com). The awareness raising function of this post will be extremely helpful for people trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle but not understanding what happens when you don’t feel so good and why. What a helpful post! However I have to admit, just like Justin, I get light headed when I don’t eat too, so now I’m a little nervous and will be making a quick trip to the doctor just before I donate blood again!
    Rubie Dickson

  4. Ariel Etherington says:

    After reading this I think I may be hypoglycaemic. What’s the process for being tested?

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