Lots of people talk about having “hypoglycemia” or low blood sugar. And, lots of people think they have low blood sugar when in fact they don’t. Hypoglycemia was even quite the fad back in the 1970s. Lots of people made lots of money selling books and diet products to help “fight the disease”.
Actually, hypoglycemia isn’t a disease, but rather an indicator of some other problem. It is the other problem that causes the blood sugar to drop too low leading to all of the symptoms of hypoglycemia. The shakiness, blurry vision, nervous feeling, sweating, headache, weakness, rapid or pounding heartbeat (and more) are all symptoms of low blood sugar, but the low blood sugar is itself a symptom from some other cause.
Most often, hypoglycemia is related to diabetes. It can happen when blood sugar gets too low from using too much insulin or from not eating when you should. Lots of medicines can lead to low blood sugar, especially diabetes medications. Certain cancers, chronic diseases, and severe infections can lead to hypoglycemia. So can drinking alcohol. Liver, kidney, or adrenal problems can bring on low blood sugar as can certain genetic conditions or birth problems.
For a true diagnosis of hypoglycemia, your need three things:
So how do diabetics or others with real hypoglycemia get their blood sugar back to rights? That part’s pretty simple: they eat or drink stuff with sugar. Folks with real hypoglycemia should discuss just what would be best for them to use with their medical providers, but people often use hard candies, a small glass of juice or milk, pop (but not diet pop), glucose tablets (which are sugar pills), or a spoonful of honey or sugar.
The fad of hypoglycemia during the 1970s was probably more related to stress than real hypoglycemia. Even if your blood sugar doesn’t dip below the normal level, you still might get some symptoms that make you think your level is low. If you do, take a look at your stress level, consider your diet and if you’re eating regularly enough, and talk with your doctor about any medications you may be taking. (And, if you drink alcohol, you may want to rethink the drink!)
For a few really great resources, check out these sites:
(That last one, the video on Livestrong.com, is just great. It’s a short little video made by Dr. Susan McGladdery, the Medical Director at FirstMed Centers in Budapest, Hungary. There’s a written transcript of her words, but the best part is her lovely British accent!)
The hypoglycemia fad wasn’t real, but true hypoglycemia is. It can lead to very severe problems, even death. If you have real problems with real hypoglycemia, take good care to keep your blood sugar balanced. and, of course, talk with your doctor or health care provider.
Posted – July 24, 2012