Hypoglycemia is most commonly a
complication of diabetes treatment (diabetic hypoglycemia). You can develop hypoglycemia by taking too much insulin
or other diabetes medicines.
Hypoglycemia may result from other
causes, but these occur much less commonly than diabetes. Other possible causes
medicines used to treat conditions other than diabetes
can cause hypoglycemia or hide its symptoms.
Too much insulin. Tumors in the
pancreas (insulinomas), certain disorders of the
pancreas, or some
autoimmune diseases can cause too much insulin to be
produced. These conditions are rare.
Factitious hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can be caused
intentionally by the inappropriate use of insulin and sulfonylurea medicines.
This is most often seen in health professionals and people who have diabetes or
their relatives. The reasons for self-induced hypoglycemia vary and may be
associated with psychiatric problems or a need for attention, similar to
Inborn metabolic problems. In rare cases,
hypoglycemia may be caused by inherited enzyme or hormone deficiencies,
especially those that affect the
metabolism of sugars and other
carbohydrates. These conditions are often discovered
in infancy or childhood.
Alcohol. In some people, drinking alcohol can cause a
drop in blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia has been associated with chronic
alcoholism and binge drinking. Hypoglycemia associated with binge drinking can
be particularly severe if a person has not eaten within about 6 hours, because
fasting can impair the liver's ability to make new glucose. The person may fall
into a coma, which can be fatal.
Alimentary hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia within 1 to 2
hours after a meal sometimes occurs when stomach contents empty into the
intestines too rapidly. This causes the rapid absorption of glucose into the
blood and an overproduction of insulin (hyperinsulinism) in response. This
problem may occur after surgery for
peptic ulcers, obesity, or other stomach
Other causes. Hypoglycemia also may occur, though
rarely, under certain conditions in early pregnancy or with prolonged fasting
or missed meals, severe malnutrition, or prolonged strenuous exercise, such as
running a marathon. It may occur in premature or full-term newborns with a low
birth weight and in newborns whose mothers have been treated for
type 1 diabetes or
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.