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Chromium & Hypoglycemia

By Esther Kinuthia RN BSN BA

Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the levels of glucose in the blood are abnormally below 70mg/dL. Normally, the pancreas releases insulin and glucagon hormones to control the levels of blood glucose. Factors such as pancreas damage, poor diet and taking too much antidiabetic medication can cause the levels of to fall below normal. Chromium is an essential trace element that helps improve the way the body uses insulin, a hormone that helps the body metabolize and store protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Chromium and Hypoglycemia

Chromium helps prevent hypoglycemia by helping the body use insulin properly. Chromium is also needed in the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which also prevents hypoglcyemia. Chromium supplements are mainly used for improving blood glucose control in diabetic patients and patients with high blood glucose levels due to use of steroids. Natural sources of chromium include liver, cheese, wheat germ and brewers yeast.

Side Effects

The University of Maryland Medical Center reccomends patients with hypoglycemia to take 250 to 800 mcg of chromium daily for blood glucose regulation. Chromium supplements come in tablets, capsules, liquid-filled capsules and injections. Patients allergic to chromium and ingredients in multivitamins should consult a doctor before taking over-the-counter chromium supplements. Diabetic patients require dose adjustment of their antidiabetic medication before using chromium. Chromium may lower bloood sugar levels too much if taken together with diabetes medication.

Hypoglycemia Symptoms and Treatment

Patients with hypoglycemia experience symptoms such as headache, excessive sweating, blurred vision, double vision, dizziness, trembling, confusion, lack of coordination, irritability, slurred speech, fatigue, weakness, anxiety, nervousness and convulsions, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Patients at risk for hypoglycemia such as diabetic patients should check the levels of blood glucose regularly. Patients should also carry about 15 g of carbohydrates such as candy, glucose tablets and honey so as to treat hypoglycemia in emergency situations. Patients with severe hypoglycemia are treated using glucose and glucagon injections. Intravenous glucocorticoids and mannitol are used to treat hypoglycemia in comatose patients.

Hypoglycemia Complications

Hypoglycemia is a medical emergency that can lead to seizures, brain damage, coma and death. Patients with a history of hypoglycemia should monitor their blood glucose levels regularly and also learn to recognize symptoms of low blood glucose levels so as to prevent hypoglycemia. Patients should eat a balanced diet with plenty of complex carbohydrates and proteins so as to achieve adequate blood glucose control. Patients should also avoid skipping meals, strenuous exercise and drinking too much alcohol.

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