Non-diabetic hypoglycaemia: causes and pathophysiology
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Non-diabetic hypoglycaemia: causes and pathophysiology

Valerie Wilson Head of research, Insulin Pump Therapy (INPUT), which is a national voluntary diabetes organisation

Hypoglycaemia has many possible causes, although similar symptoms in each case can make diagnosis of the cause complex. Common early warning signs of hypoglycaemia include blurred vision, dizziness, shakiness, sweating, irritability, nausea and palpitations, progressing to confusion, syncope, headache and disturbances of vision. Loss of consciousness and convulsions may follow if corrective steps are not taken to increase blood glucose concentration. In rare cases death may occur if blood glucose remains low for 12 hours or more, as brain function is reduced and cannot be sustained. However, death from hypoglycaemia is avoidable. Causes of non-diabetic hypoglycaemia are an under-reported area in the nursing and wider literature. This article aims to help nursing staff recognise the types and causes of this condition.

Nursing Standard. 25, 46,35-39. doi: 10.7748/ns2011.


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review