Common causes of low blood sugar include the following:
- Overmedication with insulin or antidiabetic pills (for example, sulfonylurea drugs)
- Use of medications such as beta blockers, pentamidine, and sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (Bactrim, Septra)
- Use of alcohol
- Missed meals
- Reactive hypoglycemia is the result of the delayed insulin release after a meal has been absorbed and occurs 4-6 hours after eating.
- Severe infection
- Cancer causing poor oral intake or cancer involving the liver
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Congenital, genetic defects in the regulation of insulin release (congenital hyperinsulinism)
- Congenital conditions associated with increased insulin release (infant born to a diabetic mother, birth trauma, reduced oxygen delivery during birth, major birth stress, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, and rarer genetic conditions)
- Insulinoma or insulin-producing tumor
- Other tumors like hepatoma, mesothelioma, and fibrosarcoma, which may produce insulin-like factors
What follows are expansions on the points noted above and should be incorporated within those points (such as cancer, diabetes drugs, organ failures).
- Most cases of hypoglycemia in adults happen in people with diabetes mellitus. Diabetes has two forms, type 1 (loss of all insulin production) and type 2 (inadequate insulin production due to resistance to the actions of insulin). People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to control their glucose level; if they skip meals or have a decreased appetite without changing their insulin dose, they may develop hypoglycemia. Insulin is also used to treat some people with type 2 diabetes.
- If a person with type 1 diabetes accidentally takes too much insulin, or a person with type 2 diabetes accidentally takes too much of their oral medications or insulin, he or she may develop hypoglycemia. Even when a diabetic patient takes medications correctly, improper meals, odd mealtimes, or excessive exercise may result in hypoglycemia.