Hypoglycemia and Low Blood Sugar | Diagnosis and Treatment

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How is hypoglycemia diagnosed?

If your child has diabetes, hypoglycemia is usually caused by insulin reaction, a common complication of diabetes. For children who have symptoms of hypoglycemia and don’t have diabetes, in addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, your child’s physician will look for evidence of what’s known as the Whipple Triad:

  • symptoms known or likely to be caused by hypoglycemia
  • low plasma glucose measured at the time of the symptoms
  • relief of symptoms when glucose is raised to normal

The doctor also may order laboratory tests to measure your child’s insulin production.

What are the treatment options for hypoglycemia?

Children with hypoglycemia have different symptoms, and these vary from one child to another. But no matter what your child’s symptoms, the overriding goal is the same — to bring the blood sugar back up to normal as rapidly as possible and return your child to good health.

Most often, your child’s blood sugar can be brought back up to normal by eating or drinking something that has sugar in it, such as fruit juice, regular soda, table sugar, maple syrup, candy, glucose tablets, glucose gel, cake frosting. Consider encouraging your child to:

  • eat regular meals throughout the day
  • eat frequent snacks

For children with diabetes, the goal is to consistently maintain a blood sugar level that is in a healthy range. This involves testing blood sugar often, learning to recognize the earliest symptoms of low blood sugar and treating the condition quickly, based on instructions given by your child's healthcare providers.

If your child has recurrent or severe hypoglycemia, the first thing is to determine the cause, because different causes have different treatments. While the cause is determined, some children will receive glucose intravenously (through an IV) in the hospital to make sure their blood-sugar level stays normal.

Some causes of hypoglycemia can be treated with changes in your child’s diet or medication. For some rare cases of severe hypoglycemia that don’t respond to medical treatment, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove most of the pancreas.

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