Hypoglycemia symptoms can be confusing and are often mistaken for other pathologies.
With diabetes and insulin resistance the blood sugar is too high, but with true hypoglycemia the glucose is too low.
Low blood sugar is usually caused by a poor diet. Much like a diabetic, a hypoglycemic has poor glucose processing and control in their blood.
Stress and unchecked cortisol levels can lead to hypoglycemia. A lifestyle of skipping breakfast, drinking coffee, and taking other stimulants to function adds up.
Most of the time it is either eating a standard american diet (SAD), high alcohol usage, medication reactions, endocrine disorders, and even insulin-producing tumors.
True hypoglycemia is actually pretty rare and can be very dangerous. Depending on what research you look at these patients dip below 65-70 mg/dL with their fasting glucose.
The body can’t get the fuel it needs and starts to shut down. This can lead to fainting, seizures, comas, and in extreme cases death. Many times people who have diabetes accidentally overdose on insulin shots.
Insulin makes glucose leave the blood and rush into the cells. When this happens blood sugar levels crash and the rest of the cells in the body can’t get the fuel they need to function.
People in this situation need immediate treatment or it can be fatal. Test the blood glucose levels; if they are low, standard protocol is to give them at least 15 grams of simple carbs or a glucose pill every 15 minutes until the blood levels rise and are stable.
In rare cases true hypoglycemia can be attributed to kidney disease, liver issues like hepatitis, insulin-producing tumors, adrenal gland deficiencies, medication reactions (quinine), or insulin shot reactions.
This is the condition most hypoglycemics in my practice have. This is actually a combination of insulin resistance and hypoglycemia: a person's blood sugar is so unstable that it swings between two extremes all day long.
This mixed presentation often confuses doctors and often leads to a misdiagnosis. Depending on the time of day, a patient could present as hypoglycemic or pre-diabetic. Reactive hypoglycemia can be tough to manage because of this. This is where finding a good doctor really helps.
Adrenal fatigue hypoglycemia also needs to be considered and ruled out by your physician. I routinely run tests to check the adrenal levels of my reactive hypoglycemic patients.
Most of them suffer from adrenal burnout from poor sugar management and a high stress lifestyle. It is important for your doctor to support your over worked adrenal glands with high quality nutrition to help them recover.
If you never feel like eating breakfast, this might be a clue that your adrenal glands are contributing to your hypoglycemia. If you lead a high stress, coffee-driven lifestyle it could also be a big clue. Drinking alcohol can also contribute to adrenal burnout.
Since the main issue with hypoglycemia is poor blood sugar control, people with this problem actually respond very well to the same diet we use on our diabetic patients.
A good hypoglycemia diet should include proper amounts of non-animal plant protein with each meal. Eating a high plant-protein breakfast or raw fruit is the key for them to stabilize blood sugar swings throughout the day.
As always if you suspect you might have true hypoglycemia, reactive hypoglycemia, or adrenal fatigue hypoglycemia you should have it checked out by a doctor.
If you would like a drug-free option for managing your condition, search out a doctor well trained in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. For your convenience, here is a list of functional medicine doctors in the US.
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