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.

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SOURCES:
University of Iowa
Wikipedia
"Explore TheHeart.org for the latest Cardiology related articles on topics such as Dabigatran"

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