Could You Be Suffering From Hypoglycemia?

 In Cravings, Fatigue, Stress, Sugar Toxicity

Could You Be Suffering From Hypoglycemia?

Sugar levels in our bodies play a large role in how we feel throughout the day, and when blood sugar (glucose) is chronically too high or too low, serious health problems can occur.

Hypoglycemia is a condition characterized by a drop in blood sugar from your baseline blood sugar level. When fasting, normal blood glucose levels are typically between 70-100 mg/dL, while a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dL or more suggests a diagnosis of diabetes. Hypoglycemia is typically associated with the treatment of diabetes, however, there are other conditions that cause a drop in blood sugar in people without diabetes. Hypoglycemia isn’t a disease itself—it’s an indicator of an underlying health imbalance.

Most people suffer from relative hypoglycemia. Relative hypoglycemia is experienced when hypoglycemic symptoms are present with blood sugars above 70 mg/dL. Glucose tolerance testing can identify relative hypoglycemia, which is present if, following ingestion of glucose, the blood sugar level rises and then drops over 45 mg/dL in any hour. For example, if blood sugar rises to 200 mg/dL following ingestion of glucose, then drops to 154 mg/dL within an hour, the diagnosis of relative hypoglycemia is confirmed.

Relative hypoglycemia has been linked to a number of chronic conditions including anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, alcohol dependence, migraines, hypertension, seizure disorders, insomnia (Salzer 1966), drug addiction, and eating disorders, and sugar cravings. Relative hypoglycemia is also a precursor to overt diabetes mellitus type 2.

Problems with glucose arise from imbalances within the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ located in the middle part of the body and is responsible for releasing insulin and glucagon. Insulin is released when your blood glucose is high and is responsible for lowering the glucose in your blood and driving it into your cells. Glucagon is released when your blood sugar is too low and will help raise the blood glucose.

When there is relative hypoglycemia, glucagon is not released effectively, so the blood sugar does not rise as it should. This is when people experience symptoms of hypoglycemia. Relative hypoglycemia can also occur when insulin is released in excess, causing your blood sugar to sink within a few hours. This occurs following a high simple carbohydrate load (taking in processed sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, soda, flour products, alcohol) or following strong caffeine intake like coffee.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include:

  • Shakiness
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Pale skin
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Hunger
  • Tingling in and around mouth
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Immediate treatment of hypoglycemia involves quick steps to get your blood sugar level back into a normal range—typically quantified as 70-100 mg/dL— either with high-simple carbohydrate foods (such as fruit juice) or medications (such as a glucagon injection or intravenous glucose). Following, it is important to have a snack or meal with a complex carbohydrate and a protein to help stabilize blood sugar for a longer period of time.

In my next blog post, I explain in more detail how to treat hypoglycemia long-term.





(4) Salzer HM. 1966. Relative Hypoglycemia as a Cause of Neuropsychiatric Illness. JNMA. 58(1):12-17.

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