Hypoglycemia symptoms include feelings of intense anxiety, elevated heart rate, palpitations, trembling, nausea, sweating and disturbed thoughts.
Sounds like a panic attack doesn't it?
If you think these symptoms sound familiar and remind you of the beginnings of a panic attack, you understand why hypoglycemia is so relevant to those of us with anxiety issues.
You Might Actually Have Hypoglycemia
Because of its similar physical manifestation hypoglycemia can be mistaken for a panic attack. Although not absolutely identical there is enough similarity that it is a good idea to get tested for this physical disorder when you go to your doctor.
Monitoring your diet, or addressing an underlying physical issue may be all you need to do to help yourself feel better.
What Is Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is a temporary physical condition where the levels of glucose (a special form of sugar) in your body are so low that your body is unable to to adequately feed your important organs - including your brain.
Glucose is the fuel your body runs on, so when levels get too low your sympathetic nervous system is engaged and another substance called glucagon is released into your bloodstream in an effort to enhance glucose production.
The symptoms of hypoglycemia listed above are actually a direct result of the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
Who Gets Hypoglycemia?
Anyone can experience brief transient hypoglycemia symptoms but sustained hypoglycemia is most common in people with diabetes.
People with diabetes are actually at higher risk of getting panic attacks than those who do not have diabetes. One reason why this might be is that they are experiencing hypoglycemia but are interpreting the symptoms as fear or panic.
Hypoglycemia can also be caused by other endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency, impaired functioning of the anterior pituitary gland, and other conditions.
Inherited metabolism disorders such as galactosemia and hereditary fructose intolerance are also rare causes.
Sometimes severe bacterial infections, alcohol and certain drugs can induce the condition as well. Drugs which have been known to create hypoglycemia in some people include:
- a class of antibiotics called sulfonamides
- the heart medications propanol and disopyramide
- the malaria treatment drug quinine
- medications containing salicylates including aspirin
Hypoglycemia Symptoms Can Be Confused With Panic Attacks
Hypoglycemia symptoms can be confused with panic attacks in two ways:
1) A person with an underlying physical disorder such as diabetes may feel the uncomfortable shaking, sweating, anxiety and thinking patterns associated with low blood sugar and think they are having a panic attack - when actually the problem is low blood sugar.
2) A person who does have panic disorder may occasionally also have brief periods of low blood sugar. Feeling the hypoglycemia symptoms they may worry that they are about to have another panic attack. Of course the sense of worry only excerbates the feelings and soon an actual panic attack can occur.
Because of this, you can see how important it is to see your doctor to determine whether blood sugar levels are a problem for you.
How Is Hypoglycemia Diagnosed and Treated?
There are two types of hypoglycemia - fasting and reactive.
The fasting type is almost always seen in conjunction with diabetes, and must be treated within the context of a comprehensive diabetes treatment plan. As every diabetic knows. serious incidents of very low blood sugar of this sort can be very dangerous and even cause coma, brain damage or death.
The reactive type is much more common in the general population and can be diagnosed at doctors office or a clinical setting. Typically a glucose fasting test is used. You will be asked to drink a solution containing glucose and blood tests measuring your blood sugar levels are taken and correlated with any symptoms you may be experiencing. This is easy to do (although boring so bring a book or a game) and takes several hours.
A diagnosis of reactive hypoglycemia can usually be treated by careful attention to the diet to help moderate fluctuations in blood sugar.
Diet Is So Very Important
Hypoglycemia symptoms and a tendency to feel anxious or have panic attacks are very much influenced by what we eat and drink. Moderating your diet to include healthy choices, sufficient vitamins and nutrients and decreasing or eliminating unrefined sugars is so important.
It almost seems too simple, that so many of us ignore the common but true phrase "You are what you eat!"
Seven Important Secrets To Reduce Anxiety and Keep Blood Sugar Regulated
The following list of tips can help you regulate your blood sugar. Regardless of whether or not you have been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, or experience hypoglycemia symptoms ,keeping your blood glucose levels from fluctuating wildly will help keep you body comfortable and your mind calm.
- Slowly begin to cut down or eliminate the substances that are known to cause problems - refined sugars, caffeine, soft drinks, candy, tobacco, white rice, white flour, and alcohol are all known to wreck havoc in our bodies especially in large quantities. Be aware that in the first few days or weeks you may actually feel a bit worse due to withdrawal-like symptoms. Once that is over you will start to feel much better!
- Eat several small meals a day instead of fewer large ones
- Don't skip breakfast - this meal is important to provide your body with the nutrition it needs after a long night
- Eat healthy nutritious foods such as vegetables, lean meats, nuts, vegetable sourced fats, fruits and dairy. Go organic when you can.
- You may need to add a healthy fat or a protein when you eat fruit as a way of slowing the digestion and absorption of sugar and stopping unwanted fluctuations and anxiety symptoms.
- Watch out for hidden caffeine in various over the counter and presscription drugs. If you are sensitive this may make you feel anxious
- Do you crave sugary foods? Be sure you have sufficient vitamins and minerals in your diet. Sometimes insufficient vitamins or minerals will cause cravings for sugars and fats.
Want to stick to a healthy diet but always have trouble doing it? This is often because the logical part of your mind and the emotional part are not in alignment. Hypnosis can help by enabling you to align the conscious and unconscious and emotional parts of yourself towards the goal.
If you experience hypoglycemia symptoms or not, a healthy diet with the right balance of vitamins and minerals stabilizes mood and protects against the damage stress can cause.