Lifestyle and Wellness for Patients and Families living with Glycogen Storage Diseases

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and Glycogen Storage Disease

Glycogen Storage Disease hypoglycemia occurs when someone with Glycogen Storage Disease doesn’t have enough sugar (glucose) in his or her blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body and brain, so you can’t function well if you don’t have enough.

For many people, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is a blood sugar level below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.9 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). But your numbers might be different. Ask your healthcare provider about the appropriate range to keep your blood sugar (target range).

Pay attention to the early warning signs of hypoglycemia and treat low blood sugar promptly. You can raise your blood sugar quickly by eating a snack or drinking a simple sugar source, such as glucose tablets. Tell family and friends what symptoms to look for and what to do if you’re not able to treat the condition yourself.


Early warning signs and symptoms

Initial signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Looking pale (pallor)
  • Shakiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sweating
  • Hunger or nausea
  • An irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling weak and having no energy (fatigue)
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Headache
  • Tingling or numbness of the lips, tongue or cheek

Nighttime signs and symptoms

If Glycogen Storage Disease hypoglycemia occurs when you’re sleeping, signs and symptoms that may disturb your sleep include:

  • Damp sheets or nightclothes due to perspiration
  • Nightmares
  • Tiredness, irritability or confusion upon waking

Severe signs and symptoms

If Glycogen Storage Disease hypoglycemia isn’t treated, signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia worsen and can include:

  • Confusion, unusual behavior or both, such as the inability to complete routine tasks
  • Loss of coordination
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Blurry or tunnel vision
  • Inability to eat or drink
  • Muscle weakness
  • Drowsiness

Severe hypoglycemia may cause:

  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death, rarely

Symptoms can differ from person to person or from episode to episode. Some people don’t have any noticeable symptoms. It’s also possible you won’t have any symptoms of hypoglycemia. It’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and keep track of how you’re feeling when your blood sugar is low.

When to see a doctor

Severe hypoglycemia can lead to serious problems, including seizures or unconsciousness, that require emergency care. Make sure your family, friends and co-workers know what to do in an emergency. Glycogen Storage Disease Emergency Protocol here

Inform people you trust about hypoglycemia. If others know what symptoms to look for, they might be able to alert you to early symptoms. It’s important that family members and close friends know how to manage it.

If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia several times a week or more, see your healthcare provider. You may need to change your medication dosage or timing, or otherwise adjust your diabetes treatment regimen.

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