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Overexertion Can Cause Hypoglycemia

Prolonged periods of strenuous exercise can trigger drop in glucose levels

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SUNDAY, Aug. 31, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Dehydration is the most prominent health concern when it comes to overexertion, but a less common side effect that can also be serious is hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

Hypoglycemia is most commonly seen in people with diabetes, but it also can result after prolonged periods of strenuous exercise, as well as from fasting, alcohol abuse and in some early pregnancies.

Specifically, hypoglycemia occurs when glucose levels drop and become less able to fuel the body's activity, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include dizziness, confusion, fatigue and hunger. In addition, there may be headache, irritability, trembling, sweating, rapid heartbeat, paleness and a cold, clammy feeling. In the most severe cases -- again, usually only among diabetics -- there can be a loss of consciousness or the patient could even lapse into a coma.

One of the easiest ways of determining that hypoglycemia is causing the problem is if the symptoms disappear soon after eating or drinking something with sugar.

Diabetics usually learn to recognize the symptoms and know to have a sweet food or beverage, such as fruit juice, sugar or regular soda if they start feeling hypoglycemic.

Whether or not you're diabetic, you can prevent symptoms of low blood sugar during strenuous workouts by making sure to keep hydrated with sports drinks such as Gatorade, which also help to replace electrolytes and retain your salt balance.

More information

Learn more about hypoglycemia among diabetics at the American Diabetes Association.

SOURCE: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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