Does your Pancreas Overreact?
Reactive hypoglycemia is a condition with recurring episodes of hypoglycemia in a person who is not diabetic.
R eactive hypoglycemia is a condition with recurring episodes of hypoglycemia in a person who is not diabetic. True reactive hypoglycemia symptoms are caused by low blood glucose ranges, usually less than 70 mg/dL, and occur after eating a meal. For the majority of people with postprandial symptoms, the actual cause of the symptoms is not clear, but may relate to what food was eaten or variations in the timing of the food moving through the stomach and intestinal tract. Reactive hypoglycemia is the result of excessive insulin release triggered by the intake of carbohydrates, but the insulin release continues past the digestion phase, and past disposal of glucose from that past meal. People who have had intestinal surgery (gastric bypass or surgery for the management of ulcer disease) or tumors in the pancreas may have an increased production of insulin that puts them at a higher risk of having reactive hypoglycemia because of the rapid passage of food into the small intestine. Rare enzyme deficiencies diagnosed early in life, such as hereditary fructose intolerance, also may cause reactive hypoglycemia.
OTHER CAUSES OF REACTIVE HYPOGLYCEMIA INCLUDE:
Certain medicines Drinking alcohol, especially drinking a lot over a few days
Certain illnesses that affect the liver or kidneys Anorexia nervosa – This is an eating disorder that makes people lose more weight than is healthy.
Growths or problems in the pancreas
The doctor may ask about signs and symptoms to diagnosis reactive hypoglycemia: Test blood glucose while the patient is having symptoms by taking a blood sample from the arm and sending it to a laboratory for analysis Check to see whether the symptoms ease after the patient’s blood glucose returns to 70 mg/dL or above after eating or drinking A blood glucose level below 70 mg/dL at the time of symptoms and relief after eating will confirm the diagnosis. The oral glucose tolerance test is no longer used to diagnose reactive hypoglycemia because experts now know the test can actually trigger hypoglycemic symptoms. Symptoms may vary according to the individual’s hydration level and sensitivity to the rate of decline of their blood glucose ranges.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE:
Double vision or blurry vision
Unclear thinking, confusion
Heart palpitation or fibrillation
Dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion
Headaches, tremors, flushing
Nervousness, irritability, panic attack
Increased appetite, craving sweets
Numbness/coldness in the extremities