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The Occurrence of Hypoglycemia in Pregnancy

written by: Veronica Sky • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/31/2010

The occurrence of hypoglycemia in pregnancy is common, but more so for diabetics. Learn about the causes, symptoms and treatment options for hypoglycemia. A few tips and hypoglycemia will seem like a thing of the past and all the attention can be refocused towards the joys of pregnancy.

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    Hunger, Shaking, Dizziness, Oh my!

    Pregnancy is a time of excitement, joy and nervous anticipation. Although hypoglycemia is a common occurrence during pregnancy, there is no need to let it put a damper on this wonderful experience. With a few tips and some useful information, you will be armed with the tools necessary to manage hypoglycemia during pregnancy.

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    Causes

    The causes for hypoglycemia vary depending on whether you have previously been diagnosed as a diabetic or if you are simply experiencing hypoglycemia as a side effect of pregnancy. Hypoglycemia occurs due to low blood sugar levels and excessive amounts of insulin in the body, and is typically associated with diabetes. Pregnancy, however, can also cause this condition.

    For those who are not diabetic, hypoglycemia generally occurs after going for long periods without eating or drinking. Abstinence from food results in a drop in blood sugar levels. In diabetics, hypoglycemia can occur for the above reasons or because the patient has taken too much of her insulin or diabetes medication.

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    Signs and Symptoms

    There is a long list of symptoms associated with hypoglycemia. Some of the main symptoms include confusion, double or blurred vision, hunger, anxiety, rapid heart rate, trembling, sweating and dizziness. Uncommon symptoms include seizures and loss of consciousness. If you have what appear to be symptoms of hypoglycemia, drink a glass of juice or other sweetened beverage followed by a combination of protein and carbohydrates, like a chocolate bar with nuts, then see your doctor to proceed with the correct treatment. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can result in loss of consciousness, seizures, coma and death.

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    Treatment

    Treatment for hypoglycemia depends on whether one is diabetic or if hypoglycemia is a result of her pregnancy. In people with diabetes who take medication to lower their blood sugar levels, a snack or drink containing sugar will raise the blood glucose level. In severe cases, a glucose injection may need to be administered. If you are pregnant and hypoglycemic, the condition can be treated by eating as soon as possible. In both cases, the key to preventing hypoglycemia is eating healthy meals at regular intervals throughout the day.

    Here are a few tips to ensure you are eating at regular intervals throughout the day. First, make a meal plan for the week. Plan out breakfast, lunch, and dinner; this will make certain healthful meals are being prepared throughout the day. Next, stock the home with healthy snacks such as fruit, whole grain granola bars, and all natural juices.

    When leaving the house, keep a snack and a juice box in the car or in your purse. In case hypoglycemic symptoms occur, you will have quick access to nourishment. Lastly, it is essential to talk to your doctor if these hypoglycemic symptoms continue to occur. A doctor will be able to provide a specific meal plan aimed at making sure the patient is receiving sufficient amounts of glucose throughout the day.

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    References

    1. Hughes, Pattie. "Hypoglycemia in Pregnancy - Pregnancy - Families.com." Pregnancy Blog - Families.com. 2010. Web. 31 Oct. 2010. <http://pregnancy.families.com/blog/hypoglycemia-in-pregnancy>.
    2. Mayo Clinic Staff. "Hypoglycemia - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic Medical Information and Tools for Healthy Living - MayoClinic.com. 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 31 Oct. 2010. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypoglycemia/DS00198>.