About 20 years ago, hypoglycemia was a fairly common diagnosis in fact, it seemed that nearly everyone had, or thought they had “low blood sugar.” At that time, if a women, in particular, went to the doctor with unspecified or vague complaints she was very likely to come away with a diagnosis of hypoglycemia. Today, that diagnosis is losing favor. That is not surprising because true hypoglycemia is rare and is usually connected to another disease, such as diabetes .
True hypoglycemia is an abnormally low concentration of glucose in the blood. It is generally caused by the failure of certain body systems of replenish supplies of blood glucose as they are depleted. This causes symptoms that include fatigue, confusion, nervousness, sweating, insomnia, moodiness, dizziness and in extreme cases convulsions or coma. In the case of diabetics, they do not have enough insulin to properly utilize blood sugar.
The good news is that true hypoglycemia affects less than 1 percent of healthy people, and an accurate diagnosis can be made by taking a simple blood sugar test. Why, then, do so many people think they suffer from it, and why was i so frequently diagnosed? Although most people do not have bona fide hypoglycemia, they may experience many of the same symptoms, often due to diet. The problem can be caused by eating foods that cause sugar levels to drop either too low or too quickly. These foods include refined carbohydrates, candy, caffeine, and sugary desserts.
This is how it works: Soon after eating, the level of sugar in the blood starts to go up. As blood sugar rises, the pancreas responds by releasing the hormone insulin, which allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter our various tissues, where it fuels the body’s activities. Some sugar is also stored in liver for later use. Then, when the body uses up the sugar, insulin levels drop, which keeps sugar in the blood at a steady level.
However, if we feel we need a pick up we might be tempted to eat a candy bar, or indulge in a hot fudge sundae. What happens then is that the pancreas overreacts and starts pumping out the insulin, sugar levels plunge, and a vicious cycle of fluctuation in sugar levels begins.
The confusion is diagnosis may actually be due to a failure to recognize different types of hypoglycemia.
Reactive hypoglycemia is a low blood sugar condition caused by a reaction to food. This occurs when sugar levels fall low enough to cause the hormone adrenaline to work hard to release during emergencies, the symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia can include rapid heartbeat, sweating, and trembling.
Fasting hypoglycemia, occurs in response to fasting, usually after about eight hours or more. Symptoms tend to be more severe and can include fainting, memory loss, seizure, and confusion.