Physiology, pathophysiology and symptoms of hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood glucose levels go below 4mmol/ (72mg/dL). It is characterized by reduced plasma glucose concentration to low levels which may induce symptoms associated with low blood sugar such as changes in mental status or even stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. The condition usually occurs as a result of abnormalities in the body systems that are involved in homeostasis of glucose. There are various causes of hypoglycemia but it occurs most often in patients with diabetes.
It may result from changes in medication or overdose, diet changes, infection, changes in metabolism which occur over time, changes in activity among others. Other causes may include alimentary problems, fasting, insulinoma, problems of the endocrine system, and hepatic problems.Apart from having high levels of glucose in their blood, people suffering from hyperglycemia often have detectable glucose in their urine, a condition called glycosuria. Normally urine does not contain glucose since it is all reabsorbed in the kidneys.
The major symptoms of hypoglycemia are frequent urination and increased thirst. Other symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, tiredness, headaches as well as cognitive impairmentThe pathophysiology of hypoglycemia normally constitutes a medical emergency which may culminate in a diabetic coma or even death. This has the potential to occur in individuals with both types 1 and 2diabetes.
Individuals with type 1 diabetes may eventually develop ketoacidosis of diabetics while those with type 2 diabetes may develop hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome. These two conditions are often referred to hyperglycemia crises and both are serious life threatening conditions if medical care is not offered immediately. In the U.S alone hyperglycemia causes over 2,400 deaths annually. With time hypoglycemia leads to damage of tissues and organs. In the long term, hypoglycemia leads to impairment of the immune response which leads to poor healing of cuts and wounds. It can also cause damage to nerves, problems with vision and damage to kidneys and blood vessels.