Guest Author - Jim Lowrance
When I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in late 2002, I was also found to have insulin resistence, a pre-diabetic condition. The symptoms of this condition included episodes of hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is a condition of low blood glucose. In order for our bodies to function properly, we have to have the proper balance of glucose (blood sugar), which provides us energy to perform our daily activities. Hypoglycemia takes place when the glucose level falls too low to provide that needed energy and as a result, symptoms will occur. The symptoms of hypoglycemia include; weakness, hunger, thirst, nervousness, trembling, mental fogginess, headache, blurred vision and changes in mood. These symptoms may continue or worsen until glucose levels in the blood are replenished by eating a snack or a meal. Most foods contain a degree of glucose or contain other substances that the body converts into glucose with the help of the liver, so waiting too long to eat between meals can cause varied degrees of hypoglycemia.
You do not have to have diabetes to experience hypoglycemia. Previous to advances in medical research over the past few decades, it was believed that hypoglycemia was only experienced by people who were diabetics. Doctors now know that other factors can contribute to hypoglycemia in people who are in early stages of developing diabetes (pre-diabetic) and even in people who are not in the process of developing diabetes. Other potential causes of hypoglycemia include pregnancy, excessive exercise, fasting, certain medications and a reaction to alcohol intolerance. Some people also experience a form of low blood glucose called "reactive hypoglycemia," which occurs after they consume foods high in carbohydrates or sugar content. For reasons not fully understood, excessive sugar consumption in these individuals causes an overreaction by their pancreas, the gland that secretes insulin to convert glucose into energy.
There are several ways to avoid hypoglycemia and to treat it when it occurs. Avoiding high glucose foods and refined sugars (low glycemic diet) can help keep blood levels of glucose from dropping suddenly. Eating foods that also contain protein can help the body to better metabolize the glucose contained in foods. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can also help keep blood glucose at more steady levels, plus eating occasional healthy snacks between meals to help with energy levels in the body that may drop between meals. Avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol can also help keep glucose levels better balanced because these chemicals are stimulants that can spike glucose levels in the body, causing a drop in the levels afterward. Exercise also helps keep blood glucose at proper levels because exercise aids in converting glucose into energy, so that it is used by the body at a steady pace.
Hypoglycemia should be checked by a doctor. While many people experiencing hypoglycemia are not in danger of developing diabetes, it can still be sign of its development and should be reported to a doctor when experienced. Proper testing can then be ordered so that diabetes can be ruled out or diagnosed as early as possible and so that treatment can be recommended by a doctor. People who experience severe episodes of hypoglycemia may actually pass out and in these cases should also be given immediate medical care by a licensed professional. Emergency medical bracelets are sometimes assigned to patients with diabetes or who are at risk for experiencing severe hypoglycemic episodes.