Hypoglycemia (or hypoglycemia) is a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels are too low.
Many people think of hypoglycemia as something that only happens in people with diabetes. However, it can also occur in people who do not have diabetes.
Hypoglycemia is different from hyperglycemia, which occurs when you have too much sugar in your bloodstream.
Hypoglycemia can occur in people with diabetes if the body produces too much insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that breaks down sugar so you can use it as energy. You may also have hypoglycemia if you have diabetes and take too much insulin.
If you do not have diabetes, hypoglycemia can happen if your body can not stabilize your blood sugar levels. It can also happen after meals if your body produces too much insulin.
Hypoglycemia in people who do not have diabetes is less common than hypoglycemia that occurs in people who have diabetes or related conditions.
Everyone reacts differently to fluctuations in their blood glucose levels. Some symptoms of hypoglycaemia may include:
- A feeling of extreme hunger
- Inability to concentrate
- Blurry vision
- Personality changes
You may have hypoglycemia without having any symptoms. This is known as hypoglycaemia due to lack of knowledge.
What are the causes of hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycaemia is reactive or non-reactive. Each type has different causes:
- Reactive hypoglycemia
Reactive hypoglycemia occurs a few hours after a meal. An overproduction of insulin causes reactive hypoglycaemia. Having reactive hypoglycemia can mean that you are at risk of developing diabetes.
- Non-reactive hypoglycaemia
Non-reactive hypoglycaemia is not necessarily related to meals and may be due to underlying disease. Causes of non-reactive or fasting hypoglycaemia may include:
- Some medications, such as those used in adults and children with kidney failure
- Excessive amounts of alcohol, which can prevent the liver from producing glucose
- Any disorder that affects the liver, heart or kidneys
- Some eating disorders, such as anorexia
- The pregnancy
- Although rare, a tumor of the pancreas can cause the body to produce too much insulin or a substance similar to insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia.
- Hormonal deficiencies can also cause hypoglycemia because hormones control glucose levels.
Abandonment syndrome and its relationship with hypoglycemia
If you have had surgery on your stomach to relieve the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, you may be at risk for a condition known as withdrawal syndrome.
In late-abandonment syndrome, the body releases excess insulin in response to carbohydrate-rich meals. That can result in hypoglycemia and the symptoms related to it.
Who can develop hypoglycemia without diabetes?
Hypoglycemia without diabetes can occur in both children and adults. You have a higher risk of developing hypoglycemia if:
- Have other health problems
- They are obese
- Has family members with diabetes
- You have had certain types of surgery in your stomach
- Has prediabetes
Although having prediabetes increases your risk of diabetes, it does not mean that you will definitely develop type 2 diabetes. Changes in diet and lifestyle can delay or prevent the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
If your doctor diagnoses you with prediabetes, you are likely to talk about changes in your lifestyle, such as following a healthy diet and managing your weight.
Losing 7 percent of your body weight and exercising for 30 minutes a day, five days a week has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
How is it diagnosed?
Hypoglycaemia can occur in a fasting state, which means that you have been for a prolonged period without eating.
Your doctor may ask you to take a fasting test. This test can last up to 72 hours. During the test, your blood will be drawn at different times to measure your blood glucose level.
Another test is tolerance to mixed food. This test is for people who experience hypoglycemia after eating.
Both tests will include a blood draw in your doctor’s office. The results are usually available within a day or two.
If your blood sugar level is less than 50 to 70 milligrams per deciliter, you may have hypoglycemia. That number may vary from one person to another.
The bodies of some people naturally have lower levels of blood sugar. Your doctor will diagnose you based on your blood sugar levels.
Keep a record of your symptoms and tell your doctor about them and how you are experiencing them. One way to do this is to keep a symptom diary.
Your diary should include any symptoms you are experiencing, what you have eaten and how long before or after a meal, the symptoms occur. This information will help your doctor make a diagnosis.
As hypoglycemia has to do with the low values of glucose in the blood, then you should know that one way to get extra glucose is to consume 15 grams of carbohydrates. But also, orange juice or other fruit juice is an easy way to get extra glucose into the bloodstream.
These glucose sources often correct hypoglycemia briefly, but then another drop of blood sugar follows.
Eat foods rich in high complex carbohydrates, such as pasta and whole grains, to maintain your blood sugar levels after a period of hypoglycemia.
The symptoms of hypoglycaemia can be so severe for some people that they interfere with daily routines and activities. If you have severe hypoglycaemia, you may need to take glucose or injectable glucose tablets.