Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > Hypoglycemia Forum

Breathing symptoms of hypoglycemia

hi there, I know I'm probably repeating a lot of what is frequently asked, but if anyone with some knowledge of this could give me insight, I would be very appreciative, and I've found the drs I've gone to rather dismissive.

I am 34 years old and have had symptoms of hypoglycemia since I was a child. I was tested several times as a child for type 2 diabetes but it always came back normal.

I am pregnant now and all the symptoms are much worse. During the first trimester I could not even function. I would have "spells" where my vision would darken, extreme weakness, dizziness, difficulty speaking or walking. I discovered by accident that if I ate or drank something with sugar in it (about 1-2 tbs of sugar per cup of tea, for instance), I'd feel much better again within 10-20 minutes. I took to sipping sugary tea throughout the first three months of pregnancy just to get by.

I spoke to my OB about this and she said, "a lot of pregnant women feel this way," but I feel this way (though not usually this severe) even when not pregnant.

I have an extremely healthy diet, and for about 1 1/2 years was off of refined sugar completely though I would eat a lot of fruit and drink fruit juice, and sometimes use limited honey or maple syrup. My food intake is about 90% vegan, very little refined flours or processed foods. I have always been thin or even a little underweight, even if I eat a lot.

What brought me to this forum was doing a search for a problem that has been plaguing me off and on for years-- difficulty taking a deep breath, or a "suffocated" feeling (the thread further down the page). I was evaluated for asthma and found to be perfectly normal in that regard. I was told it was probably anxiety-- which I accepted as the problem does come and go, and when it happens, it does cause me anxiety (but I don't think it's the other way around). Well I was just floored to find myself on a hypoglycemia forum for this problem, since I have long suspected I have it. I never imagined the 2 could be related.

My main question at this time is, should I try to be evaluated now for hypoglycemia, or should I wait until after I deliver the baby? And is it ok to continue to self-treat with the sugary tea for the time being? My diet is extremely healthy in every other regard.

I really appreciate any input, thanks in advance!
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replied January 23rd, 2008
Hi Anna,

I know a lot about hypoglycemia from my experiences but not so much about being pregnant. But I would imagine that you should follow the same guidelines as a normal hypoglycemic, which means absolutely do NOT sip sugary tea all day!!

Every time you pick yourself up with sugar you are simply magnifying and prolonging the process to stability with your blood sugar. Sipping the sugar will just lead to a crash a few hours later...or if you are really having sugar all day, you are probably so messed up at this point from it that you can't even identify when youa re crashing or not. You are probably chronically feeling some type of symptoms, right? I am guessing anxiety, irritibility, weakness, maybe depression??

The best thing you can do, pregnant or not, is to completely eliminate all sugar. Try eating raw almonds, a hard boiled egg, or some cheese when you feel low between meals - foods healthy for you and baby. Increase your veggies - these have tons of nutrients and fiber. And try to eliminate any fast acting carbs - pasta, breads, etc.

I would think your doc would want to do a GTT - I thought it was sort of standard for pregnant women. That might be helpful in telling you how low you are going and when you are crashing.

Keep in mind the diet is hard work but it is so rewarding. I already feel an 80% improvement in my symptoms.
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replied January 23rd, 2008
also, no honey or maple syrup. Nothing sweet...no artificial sweeteners either. Trust me, you won't miss it once you get stabilized. The cravings you have for sweets are based on your insulin responses which are all messed up.

You might want to give a second thought to a vegan diet - will be very tough as a hypoglycemic.
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replied January 23rd, 2008
hi, thank you!

I was sipping sugar all day during the first trimester, and honestly it was the only thing keeping me from collapsing. Right now I'm about 5 months along and am having fewer problems, but I still have a lot of weakness, fatigue, and the suffocation feeling.

I have been sugar free before so it would not be difficult to switch back, I'm used to it. Why would being vegan be hard, as far as being sugar free? Because sweet fruit would be out of the question?
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replied January 23rd, 2008
It would be difficult because it's harder to get the amount of protein you need. It's not the fruit that is the problem. I rely a lot on meat for my protein - not sure if you might want to add some back in. That might help you.
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replied January 24th, 2008
Hi, thanks again. I do eat very small amounts of meat (about twice a month). For protein I usually consume a lot of nuts and legumes. I make nut butters at home.

A typical day for me would be vegetable soup, a whole grain pilaf, whole grain bread with homemade nut butter (I use different kinds of nuts and oils), and usually calcium enriched fruit juice of some kind. I try to eat greens as much as they are available.

When I got pregnant, though, my appetite was very weird and I developed aversions to most foods and started having the "spells" I describe above.
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replied January 25th, 2008
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Hmmm, I really don't want to give advice here, but usually I say to avoid all grains, beans and such because of what they do and the insulin response they create in comparison to something like fruit. Too many nuts and legumes is not a good idea, and for nuts you should be AVOIDING cashews or peanuts, because they're actually beans. Unfortunately, your problem is carbohydrates, but I'm reluctant to tell you to do anything because I have no clue what this could do to an unborn child, though I do know dips in glucose isn't good either for it or you.
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replied April 21st, 2008
This is exactly what I'm afraid of! I want to get my symptoms under control before getting pregnant, because I know these symptoms can get worse when you are pregnant, it sounds like that's what happened to you. I have the same exact problems that you mentioned - difficulty taking a deep breath, or a "suffocated" feeling. I was told it was anxiety too - but I feel the same way you do - I know it isn't that and that it is hypoglycemia. I think when I get the problem it does cause some axiety though, like you stated.
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replied April 21st, 2008
oh damn, i just bought some cashews the other day.

what about korean pine nuts and pistachios? they are both very delicious and i am what are both my top choices for nuts to eat.
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replied April 21st, 2008
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They should be perfectly fine, because they're plain old nuts. Cashews are sneaky because people think they're nuts, but they're not, they're dried beans just the same way that wasabi peas are.
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