​Hypoglycemia


Glucose is very important for the normal functioning of our body organs, including our brain, even when we are sleeping. It is the main source of energy for the body. When the blood glucose level or blood sugar level drops from the normal level, which is between 70 to 140 mg/dl (milligrams of glucose per decilitre of blood) depending on the last consumed meal, the disorder is known as hypoglycemia. Infants and small children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes may have different blood sugar levels, which will depend on various factors, such as the child’s age, which your child’s doctor can tell you more about. In general, a slightly lower level of blood sugar does not cause hypoglycemia. However, if is a considerable drop, then symptoms of hypoglycemia may be exhibited.

Hypoglycemia is a common disorder in children diagnosed with diabetes. In such cases, this disorder may be triggered by:

  • Consuming too much medication for controlling blood sugar levels

  • A missed or delayed meal

  • Giving the wrong type of insulin at the wrong time

  • Strenuous exercising over a long time period

  • Any emotional stress

  • Diarrhoea or vomiting

  • Any other disorder associated with type 1 diabetes, such as an adrenal problem or celiac disease

Hypoglycemia may also occur in children who do not have diabetes. It may occur only as a single incidence of hypoglycemia, caused by any illness that prevents your child from eating properly, such as stomach flu, or prolonged periods of fasting, or exercising vigorously over a long period without food.

In other cases, a child may experience repeated episodes of hypoglycemia, even if he/ she is not diabetic. This may occur because of a medication the child may be taking which affects his/ her blood sugar levels, or a disorder affecting metabolism that the child may be suffering from.

Low blood sugar levels can cause severe symptoms that require immediate treatment. Each child may experience these symptoms differently. Common signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Dizziness

  • Cold sweat

  • Headaches

  • Irritability

  • Unsteadiness or staggering when walking

  • Paleness

  • Clumsiness

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Blurred vision

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Tingling sensation around the mouth

  • Feeling hungry

  • Seizures in case of prolonged, untreated hypoglycemia

Though hypoglycemia is not a life-threatening condition, it can lead to complications if left untreated. If you feel your child is being unusually fussy, complaining of headaches and dizziness, and is staggering, these could be signs of the blood glucose level dropping. It is recommended that you consult your child’s paediatric endocrinologist working with the Children’s Hospital Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital if you suspect your child is exhibiting any of the symptoms described above.

Severe or prolonged hypoglycemia could result in further complications, such as seizures and permanent brain injury, and that’s why immediate medical advice must be sought, especially in cases of children diagnosed with diabetes.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

The paediatrician will take your child’s medical history to find out the specific characteristics of symptoms and whether your child has been diagnosed with diabetes in the past. The doctor will also request blood test to check the level of glucose in your child.

In general, the following are the criteria for evaluating if a child may be suffering from hypoglycemia, also known as the ‘whipple triad’:

  • Characteristic signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia described above

  • Low blood glucose level

  • Relief in symptoms when the child’s blood glucose level is raised to normal

In some cases, the doctor may also request additional tests to assess your child’s insulin level. In yet other cases, your child may have to undergo a fasting study to collect blood samples and check blood glucose levels over a period of several hours.

Our team of paediatric endocrinologists working at the Children’s Hospital Service Line of The Aga Khan University Hospital are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of children’s disorders, such as hypoglycemia. Discuss your child’s medical history and symptoms in detail with one of our highly qualified paediatricians to help reach an accurate diagnosis of your child’s disorder.

The treatment plan for hypoglycemia will depend on your child’s age and the severity of the disorder. As an immediate treatment option for low blood sugar, your child may be given something with sugar in it, such as juice, milk or a hard candy. In very severe cases whereby the child may have fainted or may be having seizures, oral administration of glucose may not be possible, a hormone called ‘glucagon’, helps raise blood sugar levels quickly, may be injected. Your child’s paediatrician will provide specific guidelines for treating your child's hypoglycemia, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

You can be assured that your child will receive multidisciplinary healthcare at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, the only internationally accredited hospital of Pakistan. Talk with your doctor at the Children’s Hospital Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, about any treatment before you try it to find out how useful it might be.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
 
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
 
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.