Our bodies need fuel, like a car, to keep running. If it doesn't have any fuel, it doesn't run, period. Like a car uses gas for fuel, our bodies use glucose which is a fancy way of saying sugar. When we eat, our body takes the food, breaks it down and releases the sugar from our meal into our bloodstream. Our bodies need this sugar to keep on the move, especially our brains!! If our brains shut down from lack of fuel, boy are we in trouble!! Funny thing is, you would think the more fuel the better, right? Well, our bodies are more complex then cars are. For our bodies to work their best, we can't have too little or too much sugar and if our body ends up with too much or too little glucose we will start to have certain symptoms to let us know that something is definately not working like it should!
When a person is 'hypoglycemic', it means that their body is having symptoms to let them know that they need more sugar in their blood stream, quick! An every once in a while drop is not a big problem but can be. People with diabetes have a higher chance of having problems with hypoglycemia if they don't eat enough food or if they take too much insulin, one of the medications used by them to control their level of blood sugar, especially in teens with diabetes.
How do I know if I need more fuel?
The body has its own ways of trying to correct your blood sugar levels if they get messed up. Other hormones are released to break up fat in the body to use for fuel. These extra hormones are what cause the symptoms of hypoglycemia. The symptoms of hypoglycemia are: a fast beating heart that you can feel beating, getting cold and sweaty, getting pale and shaky and even getting very anxious. If your brain is affected by the drop in blood sugar, you can also feel very hungry, get blurry vision and a headache, very tired all of a sudden and weak. If your low blood sugar gets really bad you could start to feel confused and even pass out!!
I'm not diabetic, why did this happen to me?
Of course, hypoglycemia is a big deal and common for teens with diabetes. It is expected to happen from time to time due to the tighter control they have to keep to keep their sugar levels normal.
For the non-diabetic teen, occasional lifestyle choices can cause low blood sugar. Teens who drink alcohol or take drugs are at risk of hypoglycemia. Sometimes teens who are starving themselves to lose weight will of course have problems with low blood sugar. That being said, though, it is extremely rare for someone to have the symptoms because they were on the go and missed a meal.
Here is the kicker! You may feel you have hypoglycemia and that not be the case at all. You can have some of the same symptoms of low blood sugar for very different reasons. People who don't get enough rest can definitely feel weak, tired and anxious. Teens who eat a lot of junk food and soda can feel jittery, shaky and get headaches. These are not due to hypoglycemia but bad life style choices.
What can I do?
If you are having trouble with low blood sugar symptoms, often, you should probably go see your doctor and get checked out. If it turns out you have an underlying disease, you doctor can give you what you need to keep your blood sugar levels more normal.
If you have gone to the doctor and gotten a clean bill of health, this is the time you need to start taking a look at your life style choices. If you don't get enough sleep, start making sure you get the 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per day that is recommended. If you eat a lot of junk food and ingest a lot of caffeine, start cutting back and see how you feel. You might also want to try eating something every 2 - 3 hours. Doing this will keep your blood sugar levels more stable as you are adding fuel to your body at a constant interval. If you are taking drugs or drinking alcohol, by all means, do yourself a favor and STOP!! If you think it is too hard to stop on your own, and this goes for teens with weight loss issues leading them to anorexia or bulemia, get some help. Your life could depend on it.