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Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia (actually a measure of glucose as opposed to all other types of sugar) is an indication of a serious underlying condition. If blood sugar drops too low, coma will result. Individuals who are suffering from low blood sugar are generally irritable and easily distracted. They then become disoriented before losing consciousness. In all cases, it can be treated by giving a source of glucose to the patient, either orally or intravenously. Luckily, if low blood sugar is detected, giving the patient glucose will result in immediate relief.
Several conditions can cause low blood sugar:
- A lack of glucagon, leading to hypoglycemia
- Mismanagement of insulin injections in patients with diabetes mellitus (generally, injecting insulin and not eating, or injecting too much insulin)
- An insulin producing tumor on the pancreas
Malnutrition or lack of carbohydrates in the diet will not result in low blood sugar bad enough to cause coma. In a normal patient, when blood sugar drops the body burns protein and fat for fuel and released more glucagon to keep glucose from being absorbed by cells.