April 18, 2000
Question from Virginia, USA:
Exactly what hormones are involved in hypoglycemic reactions that make you feel bad? Can you have too much of these hormones in your blood stream making you feel low even if your blood sugar is in range?
Most commonly in people with Type 1 diabetes, hypoglycemia is caused by too much insulin or too little food. It can also be caused by too much activity, stress, or alcohol intake.
Additional comments from Dr. Bill Quick:
It’s possible to feel “low” and have a normal blood sugar. There are two possible explanations:
“Pseudohypoglycemia” can occur when stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released due to stress situations: these are indeed the same hormones that are released when the blood sugar are low, and their effects on the body are identical no matter whether the sugar level is low or normal.
If the blood sugar falls rapidly from very high (say, 500) to normal (say, 95), it’s possible that the rapid fall might trigger the release of the same stress hormones.