I'm a 40 yr old female, slightly overweight, who has occasionally in the past had isolated episodes of what seems to be hypoglycemia (weakness, "cottonheadedness" etc) that were caused by obvious triggers such as a large carb-loaded or sugary meal taken on an empty stomach. These episodes would last 1-2 days, the symptoms recurring with subsequent meals until they would resolve and I'd be fine again. I've tended to avoid large carby meals on an empty stomach and this has worked fine.
I am in the middle of an unprecedentedly persistent "vicious circle" of what seems to be reactive hypoglycemia, but am not sure what the trigger was this time. It has lasted nearly a week with no end in sight. The only thing I can think of as a trigger was a beer which was drunk quickly on a not-completely-empty stomach. (I don't drink alcohol very often, and usually with food.) Since then, 2-3 hours after every meal, not just carb-loaded ones, I become extremely fatigued, in addition to the usual constellation of "cottonheaded" symptoms - some so bad that I feel I must pull over while driving. The extreme fatigue was never part of previous attacks. It has gotten so bad this week that each morning I wake up feeling like I've been run over by a Mack truck. Trying to eat non-carb-loaded foods doesn't do much to bring me round. It's carbs or nothing, which then prompts another crash 2-3 hours later. I'm at a loss as to how I can bring myself down from this cycle of eat-crash-eat-crash... I can't just nibble protein power bars all day.
I am not on any medications, although I probably take caffeine more than I should... I am not depressed, not under unusual stress, and my symptoms are very clearly linked to food intake.
I'd like to see a doctor for an initial visit about this (to see if I have measurable hypoglycemia - I guess that is doubtful for RH a lot of the time, from what I've read). Am discouraged to hear how doctors say "it's all in your head" just because their glucose meters read "normal" - but I would like to at least know where I stand. How should I approach my doctor so that I will be taken seriously?
Also, what foods CAN I eat? I hear so many conflicting pieces of advice. "Rice, yes -- rice, no" -- "fruits, yes -- fruits, no" ...
You've definately have something going on. I would ask for a complete workup and be tested for hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, diabetes and whatever else they can check. You should not be like this, no one should. If they tell you it is all in your head...keep looking for a doctor who will listen.
I have the same eat and crsh issues along with back pain, joint stiffness, fatigue, high blood pressure, sores that come and go with no injury, stomach issues, menstrual issues, headaches and a host of other symptoms that no one can figure out. But one doctor did diagnose me with hypoglycemia even though my blood was tested numerous times for blood sugar. It will be normal if there's no crisis at the time so keep going back and go mostly when you're feeling at your worst. Have them test your blood again. I finally went to the doctor when I was in a crisis and they tested my blood and found I was hypoglycemic.
It sounds like you are stuck in a pretty bad cycle of hypoglycemia and carb cravings. Your diet may need alot of work. You mention caffeine, which is one of the worst things you can have if you are hypoglycemic. I used to drink cups of tea with one sugar in and it always resulted in a crash.
Seeing the doctor would be sensible. If you have a glucose meter and are still having episodes then take a reading as soon as you feel symptoms starting to come on. You mention you feel bad in the mornings so take a reading then as well. If you are hypoglycemic then you will see a much lower than average reading which would be useful for the doctor to see.
Thanks for the kind replies. I'm especially interested in getting a fasting glucose reading because the very worst of it is when I wake up in the morning. I feel absolutely fatigued in a way I've never felt before. Even eating a hearty breakfast makes for only a slow improvement in the morning.
By the end of the day (after eating many small snacks and meals) I feel almost normal, but the next morning the cycle repeats.
Someone already mentioned this, but...don't drink caffeine! I have reactive hypoglycemia and a couple years before I was diagnosed it became obvious that I was becoming sensitive to caffeine for some reason. Now I know why. I've done some research on this and sort of understand it but not on a really deep molecular level. Basically it seems that caffeine causes your body to release stores of sugar for some reason and so it is like you just had that sugar that you know you shouldn't have. If you actually put sugar in your coffee or tea, it's even worse. Even really dark chocolate with hardly any sugar makes me feel crappy, so I'm assuming it is because of the caffeine.
Also, reactive hypoglycemia causes you to release adrenaline, so if you are like me, you already feel jittery and anxious so caffeine is not going to help. I felt like I had taken a bunch of speed or something when I drank coffee. It was really uncomfortable and I had severe cold sweats. Freaky! It might be affecting you differently, but I'd stay away from caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and white flour until you get it figured out. I also have read you will go through several phases as you change your diet and might worse before you feel better, but stick with it.
Most of this I learned from books and the internet, but I'd see a doctor though anyway. You are right, some don't really believe in hypoglycemia, so do some research and see if you can find one that is verified to treat hypoglycemics or an endocrinologist specialist. I was lucky. I didn't even go to the doctor suspecting it. I have a really low heart rate (45-50) on those pharmacy machines so I thought my presycope (almost fainting) was related to that. They did heart tests that came out negative and finally my doctor thought to do glucose tolerance. Now I've moved and don't have insurance for a specialist so I'm researching on my own. Good luck!
@ Keb: i am so in the same boat.. extreme caffeine sensitivity etc..
I was lucky enough to have an emergency room doc that believes in reactive hypoglycemia and told me to change my diet, cuyt out all caffeine, excercise, and lose weight.
I need to lose at least 40 lbs..
@ Flobka: do some research on "going form a sugar burner to a fat burner" on google..
it is very enlightening..
it will be hard work but if you want to juice you have to tolerate the squeeze..
also, keep prepared protein powder on hand for when you have a hypoglycemic episode..
prepare menaing mixed with water ready to drink..
this will help to shift your bodies dependance on fast sugars and use the slow sugars in the protein to balance you out.
Sorry to hear of your and others problems, tho it is of interest to myself. I too have been suffering with variuos symptoms for around 2-3 years now.
Initially I developed a numbness in my hands and feet, and also started to get dizzy spells around 2-3 hours after breakfast. I was going through a bit a tough patch with work and home life, so my GP diagnosed anxiety and prescribed anti-depressants. I have a history of mild depression so I sort of accepted this.
The symptoms persisted and got worse to the point where I started to get panicky, confused and very anxious. I developed palmpatations, fatigue and noticed that cafiene really made the anxiety and palpatations much worse. All this has taken it's toll and I am really struggling to control the depression without medication.
I went back and forth to my GP over several months and even after a MRI scan for MS, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after a 2 hr glucose test.
I did a bit of research on diabtetes and diet and came across Reactive Hypoglycemia and all of a sudden thought OMG, these are all the symptoms that I get (but being a man never told my GP about them all!!!).
I tried a diet of low GI foods and smaller more regular meals, but more recently I find mornings so difficult to bare. Like you mentioned, even if I sleep solidly for 6-7 hours (which is rare), I feel like I have just completed a marathon! My arms and legs ache so much it is a chore to get out of bed. When I eventially get going and start work the aching dies down to just a tingling sensation, but when I return home the fatigue in the evening is debilatating. I find drinking too much alcohol late at night makes the morning symptoms last much longer, even all day in some cases.
I will go ahead and try the dietary changes that have been offered, but does anyone have any ideas on reducing the morning symptoms? I would think that eating before bedtime might be a start, but how much and what of would be great to know?