Hypoglycaemia is a condition in which the patient’s blood sugar drops. While this condition occurs most commonly in patients suffering from diabetes, it can also occur in patients who do not have diabetes. Hypoglycaemia without diabetes, or non-diabetic hypoglycaemia, can occur due to many reasons. This article explores why this condition occurs, and how you can avoid it.
- What Causes Hypoglycaemia Without Diabetes?
- What are the Symptoms of Hypoglycaemia Without Diabetes?
- Who is at a Risk of Developing Hypoglycaemia Without Diabetes?
- How is This Condition Diagnosed?
- How is the Condition Treated?
- Can this Condition be Prevented?
What Causes Hypoglycaemia Without Diabetes?
When it comes to hypoglycaemia, the causes can vary on the basis of the type of hypoglycaemia the patient is suffering from. With that in mind, let us understand these different types of hypoglycaemia without diabetes, and how they occur.
Reactive hypoglycaemia occurs after the patient has had a meal. This is because within a few hours of the meal, the body produces high amounts of insulin, which causes hypoglycaemia as a reaction to the same. Patients who suffer from this variant of the condition are considered to be at-risk for type 2 diabetes.
Non-reactive hypoglycaemia can occur due to underlying medical conditions, and is not related to your meals. The causes of hypoglycaemia, are as follows:
- Disorders of the heart, kidneys or liver
- Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia
- Over consumption of alcohol, which can make your liver produce less insulin
- Medications associated with chronic kidney failure
- Dumping syndrome – which can occur post surgeries to treat GERD. It causes the body to produce excess insulin, especially after eating high amounts of carbs.
What are the Symptoms of Hypoglycaemia Without Diabetes?
All patients are individuals and may or may not exhibit the same physiological responses to hypoglycaemia without diabetes. However, some of the common hypoglycaemia symptoms are:
- Blurred vision
- Changes in personality
- Extreme hunger
- Inability to concentrate
It is important to note that in some cases, patients do not exhibit any symptoms at all. This is known as hypoglycaemia unawareness. Knowing this, it is very important for patients to schedule regular check-ups with their healthcare providers to get such conditions diagnosed before the symptoms worsen.
Who is at a Risk of Developing Hypoglycaemia Without Diabetes?
Patients can be at an increased risk for developing hypoglycaemia without diabetes if they:
- Are obese
- Have undergone certain stomach surgeries such as surgery for GERD
- Have prediabetes
- A family history of diabetes
- Suffer from conditions of the liver, kidneys or heart.
How is This Condition Diagnosed?
Doctors generally start with a physical exam to find out what is wrong with the patient. They ask pertinent questions about the patient’s medical history before scheduling tests as this helps them determine what the problem could be.
If your doctor thinks that you may have hypoglycaemia without diabetes, then he/she will monitor your blood sugar levels during different times of the day. You will also have to participate in a fasting test. In order to determine whether your hypoglycaemia is reactive or non-reactive, the doctor will also ask you to undergo a test known as Mixed Meal Tolerance Test or MMTT. During this test, you will be given a special drink that is meant to raise your blood glucose levels. These levels are then monitored over the course of a few hours.
How is the Condition Treated?
Your doctor may immediately ask you to consume at least 10-20 grams of carbohydrates in order to raise your blood sugar levels. If you suffer from extreme hypoglycaemia, then you will be given an at-home kit called glucagon. This kit will help your pancreas release more sugar into your blood stream. It is administered in the form of injections and anyone in your family can help you take it.
If the condition is caused due to underlying factors, then the hypoglycaemia treatment plan will revolve around treating the underlying condition first. Moreover, you may be asked to make a few lifestyle changes, such as the following:
- You may be advised to eat small meals every few hours to help keep your sugar levels within an optimum range.
- You must structure your hypoglycaemia diet in a way that includes high protein food, high fibre foods, and fatty foods.
- You must restrain yourself from eating very sugary foods as it can put you at risk for developing diabetes.
Can this Condition be Prevented?
There are a few things you can do in order to prevent this condition from developing. They include:
- Following a hypoglycaemia diet that includes a variety of nutrients, especially healthy fats, fibre, and protein.
- Not skipping your meals and eating small meals throughout the day.
- Exercising on a regular basis.
- Avoiding caffeine or at least cutting down on it.
- Avoiding alcohol or at least cutting down on it.
A great tip on combating any symptoms you may experience is to carry a snack with you. A protein bar or trail mix are practical options as you can just put them in your bag and carry them around without any hassles.
Hypoglycaemia without diabetes is a serious condition that sometimes presents no symptoms. As your body relies heavily on sugar or glucose for energy, it is vital to prevent this condition by sticking to a healthy lifestyle.