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Menopause, low blood sugar, and hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, is usually a concern for diabetics. For menopausal women, low blood sugar levels can occur with little or no warming. Is it a sign of fluctuating hormones or is there a threat of developing diabetes?

Patients need to know their blood sugar level readings and consult with a doctor for proper health management. Testing for blood sugar levels should be part of a regular physical examination to rule out type 2 diabetes. For the purposes of this article, the focus is on hypoglycemia when the risks of diabetes have been addressed and ruled out by a physician.

Low blood sugar levels occur because of a drop in normal blood sugars. Too much sugar in the bloodstream leads to serious health concerns. At the same time, having too little blood sugar affects overall health and energy. Typical symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

*fatigue, even after getting sufficient rest
*headaches
*dizziness and light-headedness
*weakness
*difficulty concentrating
*blurred vision
*feeling shaky or having difficulty walking, holding objects or performing daily tasks
*unusual or increased cravings for sugary foods

The official verdict is still questionable when dealing with menopause and hypoglycemia. Some experts believe that the changes in hormone levels, especially the drops in estrogen and progesterone, cause blood sugar levels to dip in otherwise healthy women and conclude that menopause is to blame. Others argue that a woman’s health and lifestyle choices affect blood sugar levels and in turn aggravate menopause symptoms like sleeplessness and irritability.

As always prevention is the best medicine.

*Follow a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats like omega-3s. Avoid foods high in sugar, salt, and fat. It is easy to think of processed foods and baked goods as the culprits, but sugar lurks in some surprising places. Check labels and look for ingredients such as corn syrups, honey, and words that end with –ose as these are all sources of sugar. Some so-called healthy foods are really nothing more than sugary snacks in disguise (think granola or health bars).

*Note even fruits tend to be high in sugar content and even though natural, diabetics need to limit their daily fruit servings. Dried fruits also seem like a healthy choice. But they should be eaten in moderation due to their very high sugar concentration.

*Avoid alcohol, which is also high in sugar.

*Consuming sugary foods and beverages might seem like the perfect way to combat low blood sugar levels. But the result is sending too much sugar into the bloodstream, causing unhealthy spikes and forcing the body to use up more insulin.

Better to keep blood sugar levels in check by following some tips to prevent sugar highs and lows.

*Eat smaller amounts of healthy foods throughout the day.
*Never go more than a few hours without eating something.
*Avoid fasting, fad diets and skipping meals especially breakfast.
*Do not smoke.
*Get regular exercise, which helps the body deal with the normal and usual blood sugar increases after eating.

Diabetics understand the necessity of maintaining blood sugar levels and monitoring daily health habits to keep things even. Even if diabetes is not behind the hypoglycemia, most people will benefit from some minor changes that mean better overall health and menopause management.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Tammy Elizabeth Southin. All rights reserved.
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