Difference Between Diabetes & Hypoglycemia

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Diabetes and hypoglycemia are conditions caused by abnormal blood sugar levels. In diabetes, blood sugar levels are too high. In hypoglycemia, the levels are too low. Both conditions need to be treated.

Definition

Diabetes is a disease where the body's ability to regulate sugar, or glucose, is impaired. Either the body makes no or too little insulin, the hormone that processes sugar, or the insulin is ineffective. The result is a buildup of glucose in the blood that can damage organs such as the kidneys, the eyes or nerves.

Hypoglycemia is a condition where blood glucose levels are too low. It is typically a symptom of another illness but can occur in those with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, the most common cause of hypoglycemia is diabetes medication.

Blood Sugar

When you eat, your body converts the carbohydrates in the food to glucose. The glucose is carried by your blood to your cells and organs, like the brain, as a source of energy.

You need a certain amount of glucose to function. Normal levels are 70 to 99 milligrams of glucose per deciliter of blood (mg/dL). Levels between 100 and 125 mg/dL are considered pre-diabetes. Anything higher than 125 mg/dL are considered diabetes.

Levels below 70 indicate hypoglycemia.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes are: • Excessive thirst • Hunger • Fatigue • Weight loss • Blurred vision • Sores that won't heal • Tingling sensation in the hands or feet • Irritability

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

Some of the symptoms of hypoglycemia are similar to diabetes, such as blurred vision and hunger. But other symptoms include: • Abnormal behavior • Double vision • Heart palpitations • Tremor • Anxiety • Sweating • Fainting (uncommon) • Seizures (uncommon)

Considerations

The treatment for either condition is to get blood sugar levels into the normal range. For those who have hypoglycemia, it is necessary to raise sugar levels. Then, because hypoglycemia is generally a symptom of something else, it is necessary to determine the cause and provide treatment for it.

For those with diabetes, maintaining a normal blood sugar level across time is a balancing act. Too much insulin or medication to reduce blood sugar may drop levels too far, causing hypoglycemia. Too little insulin, and blood sugar levels can rise putting your life at risk.

If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia or you experience the symptoms of either condition, talk to your doctor.

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