Exercise Reactive Hypoglycemia

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Low Blood Sugar Levels During Exercise: Is Non-diabetic Hypoglycemia Threatening?

Hypoglycemia is the term used for defining low blood sugar levels, and when we’re talking about non-diabetic hypoglycemia, we refer to below normal values of blood sugar that occur in people who aren’t affected by diabetes. The symptoms of hypoglycemia can vary from one person to another, and can be accentuated by certain factors such as the lack of sleep, fasting or dehydration. Triggers of hypoglycemia in non-diabetic people can be very different, but today we’ll only discuss about exercise-induced low blood sugar levels, and we’ll try to understand why this symptom occurs, how threatening it is and how it can be prevented and managed. Exercise can decrease one’s blood sugar levels, but in healthy people the hypoglycemic episode is only temporary. If you constantly experience low blood sugar levels after or during exercise, it may be wise to schedule an appointment with your doctor and get tested for diabetes. Problems with the adrenal and pituitary glands, as well as liver problems, may also trigger hypoglycemic episodes, so it’s important to exclude any potential health issue from the list. Back to exercise-induced hypoglycemia: you probably experienced it several t Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. Caraline

    Reactive Hypoglycaemia

    Can a non diabetic person experience episodes of hypoglycaemia?
    A question that often raises its head on the forum is whether a person who is not taking insulin and who is not on oral medication for type 2 diabetes can still become hypoglycaemic – that is have a low blood sugar.
    The short answer is “Yes!"
    The most common cause of hypoglycaemia in a non-diabetic person is “Reactive Hypoglycaemia”, also called "Postprandial Hypoglycaemia". Type 2 diabetics who are controlling their condition with diet & exercise alone, also can have reactive hypoglycaemic episodes.
    Reactive Hypoglycaemia is thought to be caused by impaired glucose tolerance, in the form of an over production of insulin from the pancreas, in response to a meal containing a lot of carbohydrates. This type of hypoglycaemia often occurs a few hours after a breakfast consisting of high carbohydrate containing cereals. It is also common after lunch, where the individual has eaten a couple of slices of bread with their favourite filling, again due to the high amount of carbohydrates in the meal.
    What are some of the symptoms of Reactive Hypoglycaemia?
    ·feeling weak
    ·looking pale
    ·a fast pulse
    How can I tell if I have Reactive Hypoglycaemia
    Reactive Hypoglycaemia is said to be overly self diagnosed. That is to say, people often claim to be reactive hypoglycaemic upon symptoms alone and without the evidence of a blood glucose reading or of a proper diagnosis made by a doctor. Evidence suggests that many people claiming to suffer from Reactive Hypoglycaemia may indeed be experiencing anxiety, depression or other psychological disorders. So don’t guess! Get it checked out.
    You have reason to suspect that you have Reactive Hypoglycaemia if:
    ·Your blood glucose drops to below 2.5mmol/l (24 mg/dl) - or sometimes slightly higher;
    ·You experience some or all of the symptoms from the list above;
    ·Eating sweets or other high carbohydrates resolves the symptoms within 15 minutes.
    If you suspect you have Reactive Hypoglycaemia you should ask your doctor to perform a GTT (glucose tolerance test). The normal 2 hour GTT sometimes is not long enough to detect Reactive Hypoglycaemia and some doctors will request a 5 hour GTT.
    What should I do if I have Reactive Hypoglycaemia
    In many ways Reactive Hypoglycaemia can be well managed by adapting the lifestyle that is advocated for Type 2 Diabetes, indeed the healthy lifestyle that we all should be living. As Reactive Hypoglycaemia may be a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes, adapting this lifestyle makes a lot of sense. Here are some things that you can do:
    ·Eat a well balanced diet that contains carbohydrates from healthy food choices ;
    ·Eliminate or at least restrict junk foods, pastries, soft drinks (pop) & other foods that you know are not healthy;
    ·Choose low GI foods where possible;
    ·Avoid highly processed foods, instead choosing fresh, unprocessed foods like fruit & vegetables
    .Eat smaller frequent meals, rather than large infrequent ones;
    ·Exercise daily if possible, but at least 5 times week.
    ·Visit your GP annually for your check-up & ensure that a fasting blood glucose test be included in your blood screen. Remember that as Reactive Hypoglycaemia can be a precursor to diabetes, you want to know early if you are entering a pre-diabetes state.
    Am I at risk of going into a coma like people who are taking insulin are?
    That is extremely unlikely.
    Reactive Hypoglycaemia, as unpleasant as it is, does not carry the same degree of danger that a hypo caused by taking too much insulin. Having said that, common sense must prevail. If you are feeling shaky, confused & distracted, it would be foolish & irresponsible to drive your car or operate dangerous machinery until you resolved this situation. So if you feel that you are having a reactive hypoglycaemic episode, treat it right away. Have something to eat that will bring your blood sugars back up to a more comfortable level and keep them there until your next scheduled meal.
    One final thing. Reactive Hypoglycaemia is not the only cause of hypoglycaemic episodes in a non-diabetic person. So do be sure to discuss these episodes with your doctor so that other causes can be ruled out.
    Links & Sources
    Reactive hypoglycaemia – can measuring insulin concentrations help understand the pathophysiology and support diagnosis?
    Mayo Clinic
    Hypoglycaemia (British & Australian spelling) can also be spelled hypoglycemia, depending upon where you live. So if you are plugging the word into your favourite search engine, you might like to try both spellings as you will then pull up more information.

  2. MarkM

    That Pubmed reference is certainly interesting. I didn't realise that RH was so misunderstood.

  3. reneebrown

    I have had hypoglycemia for thirty years now, I also have panic attacks.
    Ive been battling this for so long. I eat ever three hours, I eat low carb, low fat, I exersise.
    I dont smoke or drink. Its been a long road for me. Sometimes I wish I would turn diabetic cause I think I could control it better.

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