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October 10, 2015

Hypoglycemia

I found out this past week that I may have hypoglycemia. My blood sugar was 60 mg/dL even though I had eaten breakfast. This revelation is not a total surprise to me because I've had low blood sugar episodes over the years. What did surprise me, upon investigation, is the list of symptoms typical of this condition:

Confusion
Dizziness
Feeling shaky
Hunger
Headaches
Irritability
Pounding heart; racing pulse
Pale skin
Sweating
Trembling
Weakness
Anxiety

I've been the "poster child" for this condition for years and didn't know it.

Hypoglycemia is most often associated with diabetes. If insulin levels get too high in the blood, glucose (or sugar) is needed to take away the symptoms listed above. Waiting too long to eat can also create low blood sugar. For myself, I have known that not eating was trigger for migraine headache, and the shakes, and that I would feel off for the rest of the day.

So the doctor is going to conduct more tests, first being A1C to measure how low my blood sugar has gone and how often in the past 3 months (the life-span of a typical blood cell). Usually, this test is run on people with diabetes, but I don't believe I have that. Next will come tests to find out what is causing my low blood sugar.

Most of the time, low blood sugar can be controlled by diet, typically a diet with complex carbohydrates designed to keep an steady release of glucose into the blood. Typically, I avoid carbohydrates because I just don't like them that much. But I do like my candy mid-afternoon when I have an energy slump. But when I indulge, I feel bad almost immediately: hyperactive, nauseous, nervous and irritable, and I have a hard time concentrating. The only thing that makes me feel better is drinking a ton of water.

Why do I feel so bad? An explanation: Of all the organs in the body, the brain depends on sugar (glucose) almost exclusively. When the circulating level of blood glucose falls, the brain actually senses the drop. The brain then sends out messages that trigger a series of events, including changes in hormone and nervous system responses that are aimed at increasing blood glucose levels. Insulin secretion decreases and hormones that promote higher blood glucose levels, such as glucagon, cortisol, growth hormone, and epinephrine all increase.

Epinephrine. Yuck! I remember having to use NeoSynepherine once for a recurrent nose bleed and the stuff made me feel terrible: shaky and panicked. I NEVER want to have to take that stuff again. Some people love the way it makes them feel because they can breathe, but chronic users can get addicted to the stuff. It's pure adrenaline. I'm squirrely enough! I don't need anything to make me more squirrely.

Hypoglycemia without diabetes is typically referred to as reactive hypoglycemia. However, it could be another problem at work such as a pancreatic tumor, liver or kidney dysfunction. This is why further blood tests may be warranted.



Posted by linda at October 10, 2015 8:59 AM

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