Crise d'hypoglycémie

Hypoglycemia crisis: How to remedy it?

Hypoglycémie comment éviter la crise

We all know a few things about this: when we eat a meal containing sugar (simple or complex), this sugar passes into the bloodstream and reaches a certain level. If this level falls below a certain threshold, this can lead to different reactions. But what is it really? What is a hypoglycemia or hypoglycemia crisis and why does it occur, can it happen to anyone at any time... Holyfat informs you about this big question, de-dramatizes the situation and brings you some ideas!

What is blood sugar, and why is it important to maintain a "normal" level?

Glycemia is the level of sugar in the blood. It increases after a meal, decreases during a fasting period and triggers a cascade of chemical reactions.

In a healthy adult (without diabetes or metabolic pathology involving dysregulation of glycemia), fasting blood sugar should be between 0.7g/l and 1.09g/l. It is measured with the help of a blood test, carried out in a laboratory, or with a small device called a blood glucose meter.

From 1.1g/L and up to 1.25g/L of blood, it is called glycoregulation abnormality, and from 1.26g/L of blood, diabetes (if other indicators are also in the red).
This article will not go into detail about a disease like diabetes, which is much more complex (complications, causes, treatment) than a variation in blood sugar levels in everyday life.

What happens when blood sugar levels rise, for example after a meal?

Once the glucose has entered the bloodstream, its mission is to enter the cells to provide them with energy. The surplus will be stored in the liver, skeletal muscles or in small quantities in other tissues such as the nervous tissue to constitute a reserve, in the form of glycogen (this stage is called glycogenogenesis). These mechanisms participate in maintaining homeostasis: the physiological balance of the body. This regulation involves several organs: pancreas, liver, kidney, the hormonal system, and also several substances with sometimes similar effects: insulin (hypoglycemic), glucagon and adrenalin (hyperglycemic), cortisol (hyperglycemic), growth hormone.

But you can't get into a cell that easily. For glucose, the guarantor of glycoregulation is called insulin. It is insulin that allows glucose to enter the cells, by making the small doors (permeases) migrate towards the wall, thus creating a temporary passage.

When an individual no longer produces insulin, or not enough, this action is not possible, and blood glucose will therefore accumulate and increase significantly: this is called hyperglycemia. On the other hand, when glucose has been consumed (for example during a sports effort or after a long fast) and no more energy is brought to the body (via food or drink), the blood level can fall below 0.7g/l: this is called hypoglycemia. There is not enough sugar left to feed the cells and the body sounds the alarm. This hypoglycemia can be felt well before the critical threshold, or well after (more risky) if the person who is victim of it is not or no longer sensitive.

What is a hypoglycemic attack?

How do you know if you have hypoglycemia?

A hypoglycemia occurs when the blood glucose level decreases and falls below a critical threshold for the balance and functioning of the body. A series of reactions, known as adrenergic and/or neurological, follow, which may occur simultaneously or one after the other, to a greater or lesser extent: heat stroke, paleness, tremors, lack of concentration, tachycardia, irritability, intense fatigue, nausea, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and even loss of consciousness.

Hypoglycemia, while easily treatable and benign in itself, can be an emergency if not corrected in a timely manner. If it occurs frequently, it is recommended to consult a physician to check for an underlying pathology.

When hypoglycemia occurs, it is best to know how to react and avoid eating food that would complicate the condition. As an anecdote, a crisis can easily occur after an alcoholic evening: alcohol being very sweet (only in simple sugars, therefore very quickly assimilated), it can provoke what is called a glycemia peak, and, once the peak is over, the glycemia can go back down very quickly and pass under our famous alert threshold.

How to anticipate the arrival of a crisis?

Let's not forget that the body is fascinating when it comes to self-regulation, and that many mechanisms come into play before a potential alert is triggered. Without any particular pathology, it is therefore rare to have, or even to be close to, a hypoglycemia.

We spoke just before about hyperglycemic peak. This is an important concept to consider, especially when practicing an endurance sport!

The absorption of carbohydrates depends on their molecular composition (simple or complex sugar) and their glycemic index (the ability of a food to change blood sugar levels). But the other components of the meal play an essential role in their absorption and in the regulation of blood sugar levels: fiber, protein and lipids also help to avoid the famous hyperglycemic peak after a meal.

On the other hand, in particular situations, such as during intense and/or long sports activities, you can consume a large quantity of sugar and still find yourself in crisis on the side of the road after an hour. Here, we are not in the context of classic regulation, the body is under great stress, it cannot manage everything at the same time.

Let's imagine an amateur trail runner, with no particular health problems, decides to do a 20km trail run. He doesn't feel like eating breakfast, but on the advice of a friend, takes a sweet gel before starting his race through hills and valleys. He was in great shape at the start, in full glycemic peak since he had ingested fast assimilating sugar. But he hadn't read the instructions properly: he had to eat gel again after 45 minutes, since it was a short-term energy source, without fiber, protein or lipids to accompany it... He had been running for 1 hour, a major effort that required a lot of energy to feed his muscles, his brain and his organs. Suddenly, he stops, exhausted, as if all his strength had left his body. His ears are ringing, he is hungry, his vision is blurred and he is shivering.

How to react once a hypoglycemic crisis occurs?

"Let your food be your first medicine" said Hippocrates 5 centuries before Christ. The legend doesn't say if Hippocrates had hypoglycemia, but it works anyway.

In order to quickly get back to sugar, it is necessary to bring at least 15g of simple carbohydrates to the body. This dose can be found :

  • In a fruit juice or a small can of Coca Cola (15cl)
  • With 3 sugar squares of 5g (the n°4 or an individual log)
  • In a tablespoon of honey, or a tablespoon of syrup (grenadine, mint, ...) in a small glass of water

At this point, he must then rest, safely and quietly, until his blood sugar level rises again. If after 10-15 minutes it doesn't get better, he can take a little extra sugar.

If the situation is finally better and his next meal is quite far away, we advise him to take a complementary food that will not change the blood sugar level: a piece of bread or crackers for example, or an energy product without sugar like the purees and bars that we produce at Holyfat (xtagstartz5% of carbohydrates). Thus, the blood sugar level is stabilized and future peaks of hyper then hypoglycemia are avoided. ", which deals partly with the subject of hypo but from a totally different angle, that of fat (lipids), with in addition some tips and advice for the preparation and sports outings (or even busy days).

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