Saturday, March 29, 2008

Skipping a Meal Leads to Brain Death

Hypoglycemia is the medical term for a level of blood glucose (blood sugar) that is too low to meet immediate energy needs of the body. Glucose is a sugar that our bodies use for energy. A normal level of glucose in the blood is between 60-110 mg/dl . If you are hypoglycemic you will encounter the following symptoms: sweating, feeling warm, dizziness, difficulty speaking, inability to concentrate, hunger, drowsiness, anxiety, confusion, nausea, trembling and headaches.

There are two types of hypoglycemia. And these are:
  • Fasting hypoglycemia can occur when a person goes without food for eight or more hours. It can be caused by certain underlying diseases (tumors of the pancreas, severe liver disease, adrenal failure) that upsets the body's ability to balance glucose.
  • Reactive hypoglycemia is when blood glucose levels fall too low within a few hours after eating. This type rarely has a serious underlying cause. and is not easy to diagnose.
But I guess that the type of hypoglycemia that students are more associated with is Fasting Hypoglycemia. Nursing students are guilty of skipping breakfast especially if the duty is very early in the morning and don't expect them to eat lunch either. My duty mates said that they don't want to eat because they want to finish whatever they are doing first. But I wonder what makes them so busy that they don't eat lunch? But I can never go on if I don't eat lunch. I can skip breakfast (I'm used to it) but I can never skip lunch because if I do I'll just end up very grouchy because as shown in the symptoms above, I get a headache and my body weakens because there isn't enough energy being created because of a rapid decrease in blood sugar.

But skipping a meal is not the only cause of hypoglycemia. Other causes are: alcohol on an empty stomach, taking too much insulin, exercising hard without eating a snack first, eating excessive amounts of carbohydrate foods.

But if you think that hypoglycemia can only lead to headaches and body weakness, think again! Hypoglycemia an lead to the decrease supply of glucose as fuel to the brain, resulting in impairment of function (neuroglycopenia). Derangements of function can range from vaguely "feeling bad" to coma (rarely) permanent brain damage or death.

So never skip a meal guys! If you do skip meals because of uncontrollable circumstances then always bring food with you that are high in sugar like candy or chocolates so that you can have something to munch on even when you are on duty.

University of Iowa


  1. This is quite informative. I have been into fasting hypoglycemia also when I worked in the hospital. Just like you, I can skip breakfast. But I get cranky and weak when I cannot eat lunch. When patients are over 15 pax, plus their family (we know they are also part of our clients), plus there are a lot of demanding medical consultants during that particular day, and I am the only regular nurse available (aside from the charge nurse who just keeps on heating the stool/chair with her ass), I lost my appetite and get to eat a real meal only after duty hours, that's 2-3pm. The body is tired already, "tremorry" and everything is just blurry (from visual to judgment), to the point that I can not anymore carry my body to the gate, and that taxi is the best solution (expensive).

    So, I had to stop this unhealthy habit. I love nursing, I just hate getting hypoglycemic. So I decided to venture on another nursing field instead, nurse-educators are still nurses, right? You have more time to eat, which is very important to keep your brains functioning for your students...

    Btw, I love your blog/site concept.

  2. "the charge nurse who just keeps on heating the stool/chair with her ass)"

    Hahaha! Lol! Good one! It's good that you decided to be a nurse-educator. It's good to have CI's that are as experienced like you so that student nurses can learn more.