Hypoglycemia is a condition that causes a low level of blood sugar. Hypoglycemia causes vary, although typically, hypoglycemia treatment is associated with the treatment of diabetes. However, there are a variety of rare conditions that can also cause low blood sugar. For example, certain liver conditions and medications can both be hypoglycemia causes. Hypoglycemia causes numerous symptoms, including anxiety, heart palpitations, hunger and irritability. Crying out during sleep and a tingling sensation in the mouth are also hypoglycemia symptoms. As hypoglycemia symptoms worsen, you might see seizures or loss of consciousness.
Traditional hypoglycemia treatment methods include getting blood sugar up immediately, as well as treatment of underlying conditions. (1) Additionally, a hypoglycemia diet can help manage symptoms. A hypoglycemia diet consists of food such as whole fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. For a more in-depth list of hypoglycemia symptoms and hypoglycemia treatment methods, including a hypoglycemia diet, read below.
Causes of hypoglycemic episodes vary. For example, if you are diabetic and take too much insulin in comparison to the amount of glucose in your bloodstream, it can cause your blood sugar level to drop too low.
Hypoglycemic episodes in people without diabetes, however, is much less common. Such causes may include the following: (2)
- Medications: One possible cause of a hypoglycemic episode is accidentally taking someone else’s oral diabetes medication. And other medications may also cause a drop in blood sugar, especially in children or in people with kidney failure. One example of this is quinine, or Qualaquin, which is a medication used to treat malaria.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Drinking too much without eating can block your liver from discharging stored glucose into your bloodstream. This causes a drop in blood sugar.
- Some critical illnesses: Severe liver illnesses, for example, hepatitis, can cause drops in blood sugar. Since disorders of the kidney can keep your body from properly excreting medications, a buildup of those medications is possible. And in turn, will affect glucose levels. Additionally, long-term starvation can result in the depletion of substances your body needs in gluconeogenesis, leading to dangerous drops in blood sugar levels.
- Insulin overproduction: Hypoglycemic episodes could also be the result of a rare tumor of the pancreas (insulinoma), which may cause overproduction of insulin. Furthermore, other tumors may result in excessive production of insulin-like substances. Lastly, enlargement of beta cells of the pancreas that produce insulin may result in excessive insulin release. Therefore, this, too, causes drops in blood sugar.
- Hormone deficiencies: There are some disorders of the adrenal glands and pituitary gland that can result in a deficiency of key hormones that regulate glucose production. Children diagnosed with these disorders are more likely to have hypoglycemic episodes than are their adult counterparts.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include the following: (3)
- Heart palpitations
- Pale skin
- Tingling sensation around the mouth
- Crying out during sleep
As hypoglycemia worsens, signs and symptoms may include:
- Confusion, abnormal behavior or both, such as the inability to complete routine tasks
- Visual disturbances, such as blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
Here are 3 natural treatments for hypoglycemia:
1. Follow a Hypoglycemia Diet
Developing and following a balanced meal pan can help you normalize blood sugar levels.
Foods that can help manage hypoglycemia symptoms include: (4)
- High-fiber foods: This includes artichokes, green leafy vegetables, chia seeds, flaxseeds, beans, apples, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado and sweet potatoes.
- Healthy carbs: While carbohydrates are the main dietary source of glucose, not all carbs are good for you. Good choices include brown or wild rice, sweet potatoes, sprouted ancient grains, legumes, and beans.
- Vegetables and whole pieces of fruit: Fruit and fresh fruit juice can be particularly beneficial to offset a hypoglycemic episode.
- Healthy fats: Virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds (for example, almonds, chia, hemp and flax), and avocado are good sources.
Foods that should be avoided include:
- Too much caffeine or alcohol
- Empty calories, including packaged goods that are highly processed
- Lots of added sugar
- Sweetened drinks
- Refined grains
- Fast food and fried foods
2. Rethink Skipping Meals or Cutting Calories Too Low
If you have hypoglycemia or diabetes, you should eat regular meals throughout the day. Furthermore, make sure each meal has enough calories and contains healthy carbs. Never skip meals altogether. Healthy snacks ever few hours can help prevent dips in energy. (5)
Plan to have a snack an hour or so before exercising. If you feel dizzy, stop and make sure you’re eating enough. If you have symptoms during the night, consider a light snack before bed.
3. Talk to Your Doctor About Your Medications
If you take medications that affect blood glucose or insulin levels, be absolutely certain you monitor symptoms that point to hypoglycemia.
Speak to your doctor about tracking your blood sugar levels more accurately. Also ask if your dosage should be changed in order to reduce symptoms.