Hypoglycemia in Children

January 31, 2021
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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If you have a child, you’re aware that kids can be picky eaters. One day they love rice pudding. The next day they hate it. Sometimes, they are looking forward to dinner. Other times you have to bribe them — or take away their favorite toy — until they eat something. But fussiness about food aside, if you’ve noticed that your child’s behavior has changed after not eating for several hours, or if they are diabetic and you’ve noticed unusual symptoms (such as confusion and jerky movements), you may be wondering if there’s something more serious going on. Such can be the case with hypoglycemia. What, exactly, is it? What are the signs your child may be hypoglycemic? And, what is the best form of treatment?

What is hypoglycemia?

When a person eats, the body breaks down the nutrients in foods into sugar molecules — including glucose. A hormone called insulin then enables the glucose to enter the cells. Once the cells receive glucose, these sugars are used as the main source of energy by the body. Normally, a person’s blood glucose levels vary, depending on whether the person has had any recent meals or snacks, or whether they are taking certain medications.

If a person has too much glucose, the body stores it in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When you go several hours without eating, your blood sugar levels drop, and the liver turns the stored glycogen into glucose. This cycle continues to maintain your blood sugar levels at a healthy level until you eat again.

Hypoglycemia is the medical term used to describe a person whose blood sugar levels (glucose) are too low and there’s no additional glycogen stored in the body. When a child experiences hypoglycemia, they need to immediately raise their blood sugar to normal levels. This can be done with food, drinks, or medications. Failing to restore glucose to healthy levels may result in seizures and impairing the brain’s functions.

Causes of Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia often occurs in children with diabetes — both Type I and Type II. However, although less common, it can still occur in children who don’t have diabetes. Other causes for the condition include:

  • Hormone deficiencies
  • Celiac disease
  • Rare genetic disorders
  • Hyperinsulinism
  • Certain medications — especially in children with kidney failure
  • Tumors in the pancreas
  • Going excessive periods of time without eating (reactive hypoglycemia)

Hypoglycemia is also more likely to occur in children who have recently had diarrhea and/or vomiting, or after strenuous exercise. That said, the biggest risk factor for a child to develop hypoglycemia is to have Type I diabetes.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia in Children

The symptoms of hypoglycemia may vary from child to child. The most common ones include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Sweating
  • Sudden behavior changes
  • Confusion
  • Tingling sensation around the mouth
  • Jerky movements

Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypoglycemia in Children

If you suspect your child has hypoglycemia, their pediatrician will review their medical history and ask questions about their symptoms. Your child will have to undergo blood testing to check their blood glucose levels. If your child doesn’t have diabetes, the pediatrician may also measure different hormone levels and see if the symptoms go away once the child eats something.

Once hypoglycemia is confirmed, testing will depend on your child’s age, overall health, and the severity of the condition. Since most cases of hypoglycemia are caused by diabetes, the pediatrician will order regular blood glucose testing. Healthy levels are above 100 dg/dL. If the condition is severe, your child may also get a Glucagon injection.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.