Normally, the pancreas makes more insulin when your blood sugar is high and less when those levels drop. But when you have an insulinoma, the tumor will keep making insulin even when your blood sugar gets too low.
You probably don't often think about your kidneys -- your body's filtration system -- but you need to protect them when you have diabetes. Why?
"Three things can contribute to kidney disease. The first is high blood sugar," says Jason C. Baker, MD, endocrinologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. "If it remains high, it can lead to damage of the kidneys -- both to the blood vessels that feed the kidneys and to a part of the kidneys that filters the blood...
Hypoglycemia can be dangerous. If your blood sugar drops very low, you could faint or go into a coma.
Hypoglycemia is common in people with diabetes. It often happens because they took too much of their medicine, missed a meal, or got more exercise than usual, all of which can lower blood sugar. An insulinoma can also cause hypoglycemia when you haven’t eaten in a while, but it can happen at any time.
What Causes an Insulinoma?
It’s not clear why some people get these tumors. Women are slightly more likely to have them than men, and most people get them between ages 40 and 60. You’re also more likely to have an insulinoma if you have certain genetic diseases, including:
Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 -- when tumors grow in glands that produce hormones
Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome -- when tumors and cysts grow in many organs throughout the body