Exercise induced low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia occurs when your body’s blood sugar is used up too quickly. Sugar, or glucose comes from the food that you eat and your body uses it as a source of energy during exercise. When you don’t eat enough food or you participate in vigorous exercise without increasing the amount of food you eat, you can experience the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Severe symptoms can be life-threatening.
Nervous System Symptoms
Your nervous system is extremely sensitive to the effects of low blood sugar. The first neurological effects of hypoglycemia during exercise include confusion, abnormal behavior, fatigue, irritability and trembling, according to Medline Plus. These are signs that your blood sugar is low and that you immediately need to reduce the intensity of your physical activity and eat a food that is high in carbohydrates or drink a sports drink. In addition, you should drink one to two cups of water to make sure you are adequately hydrated. Symptoms of dehydration are commonly confused with the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Continue to monitor these early warning signs and seek medical treatment promptly if they do not improve.
More serious neurological symptoms include visual disturbances, seizures, tremor and loss of consciousness. These critical symptoms can be avoided if you take the proper action to increase your blood sugar but they do require immediate medical attention.
Low blood sugar after exercise can also have unwanted effects on your gastrointestinal system. Initially you may experience hunger, but as your blood sugar declines you can have nausea, vomiting, malaise and diarrhea. If you begin to experience these symptoms, you should avoid the temptation to “push yourself.” Take the proper precautions to prevent your blood sugar level from declining further. Seek immediate medical treatment if you begin to vomit or feel malaise after exercise.
Your cardiovascular system can also be affected by low blood sugar. According to Medline Plus, you can experience a rapid heart rate, cold sweats and pale skin. In addition, you may notice a pounding heartbeat in your chest or in your head. You should stop exercising, eat a food high in carbohydrates, and re-hydrate yourself. Check your heart rate and make sure that it is no more than 220 minus your age. Continually monitor your heart rate to make sure that it gradually declines back to normal. If your heart rate stays elevated for more than a few minutes and you are experiencing other symptoms of hypoglycemia, see a doctor right away.