3. General Symptoms
Most physicians group the symptoms of hypoglycemia into two categories:
- Faintness, weakness, tremulousness, palpitation, diaphoresis, hunger and nervousness, such as may result from epinephrine administration.
Epinephrine is a hormone that has multiple effects to prepare the body for many different kinds of stress. Its effect on glucose is very rapid and can produce minute-to-minute changes in blood glucose levels. Stress stimulates epinephrine release, and the hormone then serves to mobilize glycogen to yield a higher blood glucose level. Epinephrine also suppresses insulin release to further enhance blood glucose levels. Acute hypoglycemia with epinephrine-like symptoms indicates that endogenous epinephrine-induced glycogen mobilization has already started.
- A pattern of central nervous system symptoms including headache, confusion, visual disturbances, motor weakness, palsy, ataxia, and marked personal changes. These CNS disturbances may progress to loss of consciousness, convulsion and coma. With recurring episodes of hypoglycemia in the same patient, the symptoms may be repetitive, although the tempo and severity of an attack may vary.
Symptoms of anxiety, including sweating, headaches, hunger, tachycardia, weakness, and occasionally seizures and coma may suggest hypoglycemia but not necessarily. At any rate, the underlying cause is the same and that is enervation leading to toxicosis and eventual impairment of all (not just one) bodily functions. The various symptoms demonstrate systemic involvement.
3.1 Mind/Body Symptoms
If the blood sugar drops too low, the nervous system is in jeopardy. The brain relies on blood sugar for its functioning, and if it is deprived of it, it cannot continue. This is what happens when a diabetic gets an overdose of insulin. All the sugar enters the cells. There is none readily available for the brain, so the person lapses into a coma. Though such a drastic drop in blood sugar is not usually experienced by the hypoglycemic, the decrease is still interpreted as a danger signal, and the adrenal glands usually respond by secreting adrenalin. This helps mobilize stored glucose from the liver, but it also sets off a general alarm, alerting the whole body as for emergency action. One may feel apprehensive, tremulous and find that his/her heart is beating rapidly, his/her hands are becoming cold and clammy and s/he is breathing in a rapid and shallow way. How severe these symptoms are depends on how low the blood sugar drops and how drastically the adrenal glands respond.
It has been demonstrated that those who experience drastic dips in their blood sugar levels excrete more of the breakdown products of adrenalin in their urine. They are repeatedly responding as though to danger. The result can be an overall feeling similar to what we call “anxiety.” It has been proposed that drops in blood sugar constitute a sort of “internal stress” and may create a great deal of wear and tear on the individual, both provoking mental problems, aggravating emotional crises, and increasing irritability and difficulty in working with others. Such chronic stress and the resulting chronic anxiety could be a factor in the development of ulcers, headache or simply general enervation.
Though hypoglycemia may be one aspect of the development of any of a variety of disorders, it cannot itself be called the “cause” of anything. It is rather one symptom in a chain of events that may have begun with the improper selection of food, along with lack of rest or exercise, etc., and continues to worsen as these bad habits are continued.
- Part I – Diabetes Mellitus
- Part II – Diabetes Insipidus
- Part III – Hypoglycemia
- Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Diabetes Mellitus By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Diabetes