Risk of Brain Damage

We have already seen that hypoglycemia is an emergency situation that requires immediate attention. If it is not corrected it can cause: irreversible neurological damage, coma and even death.

It is scientifically proven that children exposed to continuous hypoglycemia suffer changes in the structures of their brains and that these can cause learning difficulties, seizure disorders, vision problems, etc.

Glucose is the main energy source of the nervous system. Plus a lack of glucose can cause irreversible damage.

The brain is the organ that consumes the most glucose; in proportion to its size.

Although the body is able to obtain glucose in cases of crisis from other sources such as fats or amino acids ...

Brain uses blood circulating glucose.

Glucose, besides being our main source of energy, is also used by our brain in other important processes. Such as: in the production of important acids to avoid brain damage or in the transport of essential ions for the functioning of some pumps and channels that are in the membrane of neurons.

Glycemic balance and brain function

Sometimes, our blood sugar levels fall below the critical point that maintains the balance between the glucose that we have circulating in our blood and the glucose amount our bodies need to function well. Especially, to preserve our neuronal integrity.

Do not forget that the brain is the head of the great factory of our bodies and if this does not work well, all the other things can also be compromised.

Severe hypoglycemia is an emergency situation and requires immediate action.

Any value below 50 mg/dl (2.78 mmol/L) is problematic and can cause neurological damage; especially in young children.

These vary depending on how long hypoglycemia lasts and how often the hypoglycemic episodes last.

When hypoglycemia is corrected in a timely manner, sequelae or side effects are rare. However, if the glucose shortage persists, a series of changes in the neuronal membrane occur.

These set in motion a series of reactions that end up causing the death of neurons and consequently: serious permanent sequelae.

Did you know that continuous hypoglycemia can cause changes in brain structures?

Continuous Hypos

An important aspect for the prognosis is the duration of the blood sugar drop.

The more time a person spends in hypoglycemia, the greater the risk of serious sequelae such as epilepsy, autism, intellectual disability or cerebral palsy.

The frequency with which it occurs is also another key aspect: There are reports showing that blood glucose below 50 mg/dl (2.78 mmol/L) that is repeated daily and that lasts for more than 3-7 days increases the percentage of neurological damage up to 40%.

Nowadays, delays in the development of children who have suffered continued hypoglycemia are quite common.

Some of the sequelae that include these injuries are epilepsy, ataxia, late microcephaly, cerebral palsy or spasticity.

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Seizures are the most important sign that the brain is suffering; they happen because there is a fast and repetitive activity in the cerebral circuits.

In addition, this stress for the brain leads to an increase in glucose utilization of the order of 200% to 500%.

A convulsive state that starts with a normal blood glucose level and lasts more than an hour; then begins to cause a drop in glucose in the brain.

In a situation of hypoglycemia, it still decreases faster.


There are studies that show an association between severe blood sugar drops and cognitive dysfunction, although the results are variable depending on the characteristic that is analyzed.

Undoubtedly, age is a determining factor in the possible impact that a hypoglycemic episode will have on brain functions.

Especially in the first 5 years an adverse event can have long-lasting effects, since it is the most important period of brain development.

Blood sugar drops can cause neuronal death

This may be of special relevance in people with limited neuronal plasticity.

Low blood glucose levels can cause functional disturbances in certain regions of the brain that are critical for memory and learning.

Blood sugar drops in babies usually have a more reserved prognosis if it occurs along with factors such as a prolonged duration of hypoglycemia or the presence of seizures.

The injury can occur in minutes,
given the vulnerability of babies

Learn to act

Every family living with hypoglycemia should receive adequate, understandable and quality assured training on glycemic control and how to act in an emergency situation.

Low blood sugar can cause irreversible neurological damage, coma and even death.

Acquiring this knowledge can save someone’s life and if that “someone” is your child, it matters even more.

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