Hypoglycemia & Anxiety

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

Hypoglycemia and anxiety can cause devastating effects on the human body. Read this lesson to learn more about hypoglycemia and how it can impact a person's level of anxiety.

What Is Hypoglycemia?

The human body is amazingly complex, relying on the intake of food to be broken down into energy. In order to support the body's health and ability to function, a normal level of sugar is needed to circulate within the bloodstream at all times. A normal level of blood sugar keeps the body feeling awake, alert, and well energized. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the blood has a low level of sugar circulating within it.

Ethan, an 18 year old college student, is beginning to adjust to his new lifestyle. Before he left for college, he played a lot of recreational sports, ate his mother's healthy meals, and was relatively easy-going. Ever since he began to care for himself in a more independent way, his diet has changed dramatically, and now consists mostly of refined carbohydrates and snacks.

Over the past few weeks, Ethan notices that he isn't feeling as well as he used to, and that he is occasionally experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor sleeping patterns
  • Frequent headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid heartbeat

He confides in his roommate about how he is feeling lately. His roommate, a medical student, tells Ethan that he has all the signs of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar in the body. Ethan's roommate explains that although hypoglycemia is temporary, it can wreak havoc on the body during episodes of low circulating blood sugar.

Digging to Learn More

Concerned, Ethan makes a visit to the college health center to speak with a healthcare provider. Once in the exam room, his blood sugar is taken and found to be normal. At this time, Ethan feels physically fine, but is worried about his occasional symptoms.

First, the nurse makes an inventory of Ethan's symptoms. Knowing that Ethan is new to the college environment, she asks if there are any other major changes to his daily routine, patterns, or habits. She learns that while Ethan does attempt to eat regularly at the cafeteria, his selection in food choices are not the healthiest. He explains that he used to feel very easy-going, and now that he's been in college for a few weeks, he feels increasingly more nervous, has heart palpitations, and is unable to sleep. The nurse recognizes these symptoms as suggestive of not only hypoglycemia, but also anxiety.

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