The Dangers of Low Blood Sugar Levels

The human body utilizes digested simple and complex sugars as a source of energy because it is unable to store large quantities as glycogen in the liver. In fact these stores are so small; they would be depleted in less than a day’s time unless they are consumed.

Many individuals will experience low blood sugar levels in their lifetime, and experience no long term effects or consequences. However, moderate to severe hypoglycemia can result in a life threatening or even fatal situation if the symptoms are left untreated.

If you have low blood sugar you should read this post on hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) treatment guidelines.

Understanding Sugar Levels and Blood Tests

One of the best ways to prevent problems related to low blood sugar levels is to visit your physician for regular blood sugar testing. The most commonly performed blood tests to determine the existence and severity of this condition are a fasting glucose (for sugar levels) and A1c (used to determine if a patient is diabetic.)

Any result below 70 ml/dL (milliliters per deciliter), indicates the existence of hypoglycemia. If a level below 50 ml/dL is detected, blood levels are considered as being at moderate risk – with anything below 40 ml/dL is considered critical or life threatening. The latter two types of results require immediate medical attention and treatment, and may be related to conditions such as diabetes, alcohol abuse, kidney disorders, insulin resistant tumors and cancer.

The Risks Posed by Moderate Hypoglycemia

Two of the greatest dangers created by moderately low blood sugar levels are confusion and loss of motor skills. This indicates the brain and other parts of the central nervous system are being affected, and are not getting the energy they need to perform routine functions. Individuals may appear confused, agitated, irritable, uncoordinated, fall and experience slurred speech and impaired vision.

During this stage, individuals may accidentally injure themselves. If you notice anyone experiencing these low blood sugar symptoms, call for assistance and medical attention immediately. If you are alone, call 911 and treat yourself using methods described by your physician if you are already diagnosed with hypoglycemia. Never drive if you are in this condition, you can pose a danger to yourself and others.

Risks Associated with Severe Hypoglycemia

When low blood sugar remains untreated, or an individual experiences a sudden “crash,” the consequences become potentially life threatening, cause permanent damage and can be fatal.

The most dangerous risks are those associated with seizures and convulsions, which can cause bodily harm, damage brain function and harm other areas of the CNS. During this situation, immediate medical attention is vital. Otherwise there is the risk of coma, and eventually death.

Mild forms of hypoglycemia become dangerous only when left untreated, and are commonly experienced by everyone in at least one point in their life. But recognizing the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar is essential, especially if you or a loved one is diagnosed with diabetes or other medical condition related to low blood sugar levels. If left untreated this situation can quickly become dangerous and potentially fatal, and immediate medical treatment should be sought to prevent a continuing decline and permanent damage.

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