A low blood sugar episode is frightening enough for most people to wonder if they can have hypoglycemia without diabetes. The short answer to that question is “yes”. Low blood sugar episodes can happen to anyone. But certain types of low blood sugar episodes may indicate that you do have diabetes or another significant medical condition.
Hypoglycemia is a condition where blood sugar levelsdrop below normal. During the day, a healthy person’s blood sugar fluctuates slightly depending on when their last period of exercise or last meal was. When your blood sugar dips slightly you may feel hungry, grouchy, nauseous, or even nervous.
Hypoglycemia is a more severe drop in blood pressure. Medically, hypoglycemia is defined as a drop in blood sugar below 70. When your blood sugar levels drop this far, you may feel shaky, sweaty or unsteady on your feet. Your vision may blur and your heart may race. If your blood sugar dips low enough, you may pass out or have a seizure — even if you have low blood sugar without diabetes.
Hypoglycemia without Diabetes
Low blood sugar dips — even those low enough to be defined as hypoglycemia — can happen to normal healthy people who do not have diabetes. These low dips in blood sugar are called reactive hypoglycemia. The symptoms are the same, but the cause is more easily identifiable and in reaction to a state of being.
Meal skipping is a common cause for hypoglycemia without diabetes. As your body burns its sugar reserves, they continue to get lower if you don’t refuel with a meal or a snack. Go without eating for long enough, and your blood sugar will get low enough to cause a hypoglycemic episode.
Vigorous exercise — especially on an empty stomach — is another way to burn through your blood sugar reserves and cause non-diabetic postprandial hypoglycemia. Exercise hard and forget to eat afterward and your blood sugar may dip dangerously. As soon as your endorphin rush dies down, you may begin to feel poorly.
If you can find a cause for your hypoglycemia, then there’s very little cause to worry. A simple sugary snack or 1/2 cup of juice will make you feel better in a few minutes. However, if you cannot find a cause for your low blood sugar episode, there may be cause to worry.
Hypoglycemia that occurs frequently is not a sign of good health and may be cause for concern. These severe drops in blood sugar may cause you to stop thinking clearly, shake or even pass out. Frequent drops in blood sugar are dangerous. They slowly wear away at the body’s organs and nerves and cause irreversible damage.
If you’re experiencing frequent drops in blood sugar, it is important to see your doctor. A physical examination will quickly pin point the problem. You may simply have hypoglycemia without diabetes. Or you may be able to identify a course of treatment or a hypoglycemia diet to stop scary blood pressure drops from happening so frequently.
Diabetes is not the only common cause of hypoglycemia. Frequent low blood sugar dips may indicate a problem with the liver, kidneys, pancreas or metabolism. Patients recovering from stomach surgery and those who frequently drink alcohol or take certain medications may also experience frequent blood sugar drops.
You can most certainly have hypoglycemia without diabetes. Healthy bodies run low on fuel at certain times. And while blood sugar drops can be worry, there’s usually no need for alarm.
But if you notice frequent hypoglycemic episodes that occur without periods of fasting or heavy exercise, it is best to see someone. A quick diagnosis and course of hypoglycemia treatment is the best way to avoid permanent damage. Or at the very least you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’re experiencing hypoglycemia without diabetes or any other significant health problems.
Thanks for stopping by my Dealing With Diabetes blog! My name is LeeAnna. I am certified as a diabetes care and education specialist (formally known as a certified diabetes educator). My goal is to answer questions you may have about diabetes or dealing with diabetes. Mixed messages are everywhere. Hopefully, this blog will help clarify some of the confusion!