What is hypoglycemia? What is nocturnal hypoglycemia? What is reactive hypoglycemia? Answers to these questions and more below.
Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar (and commonly misspelled as 'hypoglicemia') , affects millions of people worldwide everyday. Hypoglycemia is what refers to a condition where a person's blood sugar levels drop to below 70 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
What Is The Cause Of Hypoglycemia?
The causes of hypoglycemia vary. Hypoglycemia is often a red flag that there are other things wrong with the host. Some people experience hypoglycemia occasionally from poor dietary habits, while others have more chronic hypoglycemia that affects them every day and requires a specific hypoglycemic diet to manage. Hypoglycemia occurs in average people when they go too long without eating, or eat too many simple carbohydrates and starches in a short amount of time. When your liver has to process starchy foods or alcoholic drinks, it has to temporarily stop producing glucose (blood sugar). After the processing is done, your liver then releases what's left as sugar back into the bloodstream all at once. All of this causes a dip in blood sugar, followed by a sharp spike, and finally a steep descent yet again due to the simple carbs being broke down and processed too quickly and easily by the body.
What Is So Bad About Hypoglycemia?
If you have problems with hypoglycemia, it could possibly be a red flag that something else is wrong with you; much like a fever signals other issues. Though they are rare, tumors in certain areas of the body can cause problems with glucose being released into the blood stream. Certain liver and pancreatic conditions are also associated with hypoglycemia.
If you don't take care of your hypoglycemia, it can lead to more serious long-term problems like Type 2 Diabetes, as well as some serious short-term effects like memory loss, confusion, anxiety, hypoglycemic shock, coma, seizures, even death.
What Is Reactive Hypoglycemia?
Reactive hypoglycemia is a term used to describe hypoglycemia that occurs in a person after they eat a meal that was high in simple carbs and starches. Reactive hypoglycemia symptoms range from minor things like sweaty palms, heart palpitations, shakiness or dizziness, to more severe symptoms like anxiety attacks, epileptic reactions to flashing lights, fainting, hypoglycemic shock, seizures, and coma. Reactive hypoglycemia occurs in people for various reasons. The main cause is due to the simple carbs and starches spiking blood sugar levels in an instant, followed by a quick plummet. Though treating reactive hypoglycemia is fairly easy, the symptoms themselves can have devastating effects on your health.
What Is Fasting Hypoglycemia?
Fasting hypoglycemia occurs when a person goes too long without eating and as a result the liver has no more glucose to release into the blood stream. Those who experience fasting hypoglycemia will feel extreme hunger accompanied by shakiness and nervousness, as well as confusion and pale skin. Fasting hypoglycemia is easily treatable by following a strict hypoglycemia diet plan.
What Is Nocturnal Hypoglycemia?
Nocturnal hypoglycemia is just what it sounds like - hypoglycemia that occurs during the night while you sleep. This is common in most hypoglycemics who don't follow a proper hypoglycemic diet or don't eat a good meal before bed. Nocturnal hypoglycemia also commonly occurs in binge drinkers, whether they have previous issues with hypoglycemia or not. Nocturnal hypoglycemia symptoms include night sweats, tremors, nightmares, heart palpitations, along with waking up feeling shaky and weak. Symptoms are to be relieved by eating a hypoglycemia-friendly breakfast after waking.
What Is Alcohol-Induced Hypoglycemia?
Alcohol-induced hypoglycemia is a broad term used to describe hypoglycemia that is caused directly from consumption of alcohol, whether the host has a previous history of hypoglycemia or not. Drinking alcohol causes the liver to stop releasing glucose (blood sugar) so it can keep up with processing the alcohol. When the alcohol is finished processing, the liver then begins releasing glucose once again all at once. As described earlier in the article, this results in severe hypoglycemic reactions. Alcohol is especially dangerous because of how long it takes the liver to finish processing 1 drink (about 1 hour). Since most people drink more than 1 beverage a night, this can cause blood sugar levels to remain dangerously low for up to 48 hours after binge drinking.
Check out my other InfoBarrel for a more detailed article describing the effects of alcohol on hypoglycemia and how to stay safe.
All in all hypoglycemia is a condition that, though relatively easy to treat, is very serious and shouldn't be taken lightly. Hypoglycemia could be a red flag that there are more serious problems with your health. As mentioned earlier, the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia can be very similar to the symptoms of other ailments. It is important for you to talk to your doctor and get a proper diagnosis if you suspect you have hypoglycemia.
If you want to learn more about hypoglycemia, be sure to check out my other InfoBarrels: