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Adelle asked...

What are the differences between a panic attack and a low sugar level?

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The Answer

A low blood sugar level can cause a number of symptoms that get better a few minutes after eating sugar. They include:

  • paleness
  • trembling
  • perspiration
  • a feeling of weakness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • hunger
  • agitation
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision

A panic attack is very sudden in onset and includes a very intense fear and anxiety. There is often no warning and no apparent reason for it but they are often triggered by a stressful event such as bereavement.  During a panic attack you tend to over-breathe (hyperventilate) and this can cause palpitations, dizziness and pins and needles. During a panic attack people often report a fear or sense of dying, going crazy or having a heart attack (which can be very frightening).These are the common symptoms that people can feel during a panic attack:

  • Palpitations, and/or accelerated heart rate
  • Dry heaving, and/or gagging
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or being smothered
  • Feeling of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded or faint
  • De-realization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
  • Fear of losing control or going insane
  • Sense of impending death
  • Paraesthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)
  • Chills or hot flushes

If you are still unsure what has been happening to you, talk to your doctor who will be able to help work out which applies to you.

Answered by Dr Emmajane Down.


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