Factitious hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can be caused intentionally by the inappropriate use of insulin and sulfonylurea medicines. This is most often seen in 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 Munchausen syndrome.
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.
Postprandial hypoglycemia. This is also known as 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 problems.
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 gestational diabetes.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerMatthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology
Current as ofNovember 14, 2014
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
November 14, 2014
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