I deal with hypos on weekly basis. Hypoglycaemia and diabetes go hand in hand. These attacks occur when blood glucose levels are too low. For me, this usually happens when I’ve taken too much insulin, not eaten enough food, eaten too late or depending on the type of exercise I choose to do that day. For example, cardio or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) all cause my blood glucose level to drop.
However, non -diabetic hypoglycaemia is a very rare condition which affects individuals who aren’t suffering from diabetes. These individual’s experience hypoglycaemic episodes resulting in the same symptoms that a person with diabetes would experience.
So what are some of the symptoms one can experience?
Some of these symptoms include:
- Feeling weak
- Breaking out into cold sweats
- Feeling anxious
- Difficulty being able to articulate
- Feeling shaky
My first encounter with this condition was during my final year of University. I met a veterinarian surgeon in the USA and at first, I thought that she was diabetic just like me. She always carried glucotabs with her and was always ready with a snack. She used words that I always found myself saying when my sugar drops such as,
“my sugar is dropping”, or “my sugar is low”.
So I just presumed that she was diabetic too. I proceeded to ask her if she was diabetic too? But to my surprise, she told me that she wasn’t diabetic and in fact, she was a non-reactive hypoglycaemic.
A non-diabetic individual can experience two types of hypoglycaemia:
- Reactive hypoglycaemia which happens a few hours after consuming food
- Fasting hypoglycaemia ( which occurs before the consumption of any food)
Potential causes of Reactive Hypoglycaemia:
- The presence of Prediabetes or a family history of diabetes.
- A deficiency in enzymes which make it difficult for the body to break down foods you consume.
- Other possible reasons are some types of stomach surgeries, which makes food pass into the small intestines rapidly.
Potential causes of Fasting Hypoglycaemia:
- Over indulgence in Alcohol (especially binge drinking)
- Illnesses which affect the heart, liver or kidneys
- Low levels of hormones such as growth hormone, glucagon, cortisol and epinephrine.
- The presence of pancreatic tumours that are capable of producing insulin or similar hormones which have the effect of lowering blood glucose levels.
- Medication such as antibiotics, quinine (used to treat Malaria), pentamidine (used to treat Pneumonia) and also pain suppressants can all effect the body’s ability to regulate insulin release into the blood.
How do people manage their non-diabetic hypoglycaemia?
Take a look at these video by youtube vlogger : blogsoidontforget as she goes through the ins and outs of living and managing the condition.
Treatment for non-diabetic hypoglycaemia really depends on what the cause may be. Seek advice from your doctor, take note when you experience these episodes and also how you feel during those times.