Symptoms of hypoglycemia (and the adrenaline response)

Our body keeps blood sugar constant. Hypoglycemia can stop our brain in its tracks, quick smart. It runs on glucose.

The same alarm response is used as in any acute danger. Adrenaline is pumped out into the bloodstream, and has all its usual effects such as palpitations, shakes and anxiety. It also tells our liver to release glucose into the bloodstream.

Afternoon headaches, butterflies in the stomach, difficulty working under pressure, dizziness, emotional upsets, irritability before meals and feeling insecure are other indicators.

Our brain knows what it needs, so a sweet tooth and sugar craving are prominent symptoms.

Needing a heart starter with sugar, a mid afternoon snack and feeling more energy after eating something are likewise.

Some symptoms are from the other dietary problems which often co-exist. These include bleeding gums, easy bruising and muscular weakness.

Some are due to neuroglycopaenia. Indecision, tiredness, depression, poor memory, reduced initiative and delerium can result.

Some are due to other aspects of the endocrine hormone disturbance, such as very dark moles from increased melanocyte stimulating hormone and dizziness from decreased adrenal cortisol hormone.

Botez and BachevalierĀ¹ noted a "relatively high incidence of abnormal 5-hour glucose tolerance curves in our patients with folate-responsive neuropsychiatric symptoms."

When the symptoms happen

Some people get symptoms when they have a meal delayed, others when they have had sugary snacks (reactive hypoglycemia) and some people have exertional hypoglycemia.

One man found himself shaking, sweating and at risk of falling, when gathering and cutting firewood. He subsequently found he could prevent this by eating before wood gathering. This man could be fine all day without eating until his evening meal, if he wasn't exerting himself.

Another young man was cycling with friends when he suddenly lost all power, called "hitting the wall," and had to stop and eat before he could go on.

tests for hypoglycaemia

Emanuel Cheraskin's book Psychodietetics, has a questionnaire I've used for many years.

Mr. W, 27, had the following responses...
Mild symptoms...
Sweet tooth, needing caffeine heart starter in morning, difficulty working under pressure, dizziness, fainty if meal delayed, shaky if hungry, emotional upsets, irritable before meals and making mountains out of molehills.

Moderately severe symptoms...
Afternoon headaches, alcohol consumption, awareness of breathing heavily, blurred vision, needing a mid afternoon snack, eating when nervous, fearful, lacking energy, sleepy during the day or after meals and muscular weakness.

Severe symptoms...
Insomnia, bad dreams, butterflies or cramps in stomach, indecision, depression, needing to eat often to avoid symptoms, tiredness relieved by food, hunger between meals, trembling feeling inside, downer moods, poor memory, reduced initiative and feeling insecure.

Giving a score of 1,2 or 3 per symptom for these groups, he had a total score of 67 which is highly significant.

His 6 hour oral glucose tolerance test was also positive, with symptoms during the rapid drop in the second thirty minutes.

hypoglycemia OGTT result 1

He had presented saying that he was "mixed up and didn't know where to start" concerning his problems. Dealing with hypoglycemia is often a very good start.

Another Mr. W strangely, scored 45 (normal up to 10) on the questionnaire and had the following OGGT...

hypoglycemia OGGT example 2

Midday was 3 hours into the test, when he started to feel faint.

Allergy to the administered glucose drink may complicate interpretation of an OGGT.

Mrs S scored 83 on the questionaire, and had the following test result...
Fasting glucose 4.4 -symptoms then "hot flushes, nausea"
1 hour glucose 7.5 -symptoms then "short of breath"
2 hour glucose 5.0 -symptoms then "headache, sore ears, blurred vision, heavy head"
3 hour glucose 4.9 -symptoms then "tired, slightly dizzy"
4 hour glucose 2.3 -symptoms then "tension at back of head, sore ears"
5 hour glucose 3.7 -symptoms then "shaky, no energy, sleepy, hot cheeks, cold body"
6 hour glucose 4.1 -symptoms then "blurred vision, sore eyes, blocked ears, dizzy"

Two years later she had been found sensitive to a whole host of foods and chemicals, which probably accounted for a lot of the complaints during the test (which was positive never the less.)

Mrs. E scored 21 of the 43 questionnaire items as severe, with total score 68. Her hair was analyzed as part of her workup...

hair mineral analysis in hypoglycaemia.

Bad symptoms and bad HTMA go together. We are indeed creatures of our chemistry.

Examples of changes in symptoms with treatment

Mrs. J had occipital headaches if worked up, moderate indecision, tired and nervy a lot and "never feels herself until dinner time." She drank a lot of tea - felt she had to have it.

A drink made with a tablespoon of glycerine, lemon juice and water, resulted in her feeling "not so nervy and better in the mornings." She was "a little less tired - not forcing herself as much - and generally her thought processes are quicker (although some of this is as less nervous.)"

Three weeks later she found "1 teaspoon of glycerine twice a day enough to keep her feeling less tired."

Mrs. D was referred for increasing anxiety, on diazepam 18mg per day. She was already taking folic acid in two multivitamin preparations and SAMe (which is made in our body by folic acid.)

Her red blood cells were largish (MCV 93, ref range to 96) and her vitamin B12 level was good at 516 (ref range 150-700.) These suggested she may be short of folate, despite the supplements.

The dose of folic acid was substantially increased, to the 5mg. needed to treat hypoglycaemia. In 3 days she was "not as anxious" and at day 12 she reported "daughter in hospital last week, and handled it better than usual."

Ms. N noted that her sugar craving was lessened after a course of nystatin (which reduces intestinal Candida.) This yeast can become invasive in the intestinal mucosal lining and thrives on sugar.

Hypoglycemia and crime lowdown

The book "Diet, Crime and Delinquency" by Alexander Schauss was a seminal work in this area.

Barbara Reed, Chief probation Officer Municipal Court of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio did very practical work which should have set the standard for good, in a perfect legal system. See...

Back to the Basics [ Understanding the relationships between food, behavior, and learning ability.] Barbara J. Reed

From hypolycemia page back to anxiety chest pain page, which has more on the same subject.

Criteria for OGGT interpretation

The symptoms developed during the test are recorded and compared to the glucose levels when they develop.

Fasting glucose levels are expected to be between 70 and 99 or 110 (in SI units 3.9 to 5.5 or 6.1)
The maximum reached should be no more than 70 above the fasting (3.9)
The lowest should be no more than 20% below the fasting and is especially significant if 30% below.
The difference between maximum and minimum is suspicious if 80 (4.4) and especially if 100 (5.5)
A maximum rate of drop after the first hour of 60/hour (3.3) or more is likewise. Symptoms may develop when BGL is dropping fast, as well as when it is lowest.

References for hypoglycemia page

1. Ann. Nutr. Metab 25:389-395. 1981

From hypoglycemia page back to home page


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