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What is fasting hypoglycemia?

Fasting hypoglycemia, which most commonly occurs among people with diabetes when too much insulin is administered, is potentially very dangerous, because of the risk of brain damage. In addition, people with long-standing diabetes often do not have typical symptoms of hypoglycemia. Low-blood sugar that occurs in the post-absorptive state at 6-12 hours after the

last meal. In adults, fasting hypoglycemia is related to a serious condition such as an insulinoma, extrapancreatic tumor, liver or kidney failure, or hormonal deficiencies.

In fasting hypoglycemia, the body is not able to maintain adequate levels of sugar in the blood after a period without food. Prolonged fasting and prolonged strenuous exercise, even after a period of fasting, are unlikely to cause hypoglycemia in otherwise healthy people, but they can do so occasionally.

In fasting hypoglycemia, symptoms appear when you haven't eaten for five hours or more since your last meal. Five hours after eating, most people will be hungry-after all, five hours is about the normal distance between lunch and dinner-but if you are having some or many of the symptoms of hypoglycemia mentioned on the home page of this web site, that's not normal. Fasting hypoglycemia often appears as one of many symptoms of very serious diseases like liver disease (including alcohol-induced damage), cancer, tumours of the pancreas and thyroid deficiency. If this is what you are experiencing, you probably already know you're sick because hypoglycemia won't be your first symptom.

The most common cause of fasting hypoglycemia is the administration of too much insulin to a person with diabetes. Risk is increased when these patients exercise or miss meals. Other causes of fasting hypoglycemia include excessive alcohol ingestion, insulin-producing tumors of the pancreas (insulinoma), tumors in other organs, adrenal or pituitary insufficiency, rampant leukemia, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney failure, severe liver failure, and some childhood metabolic disorders, such as fructose intolerance and galactosemia.

More information on hypoglycemia

What is hypoglycemia? - Hypoglycemia is a medical term referring to a pathologic state produced and usually defined by a lower than normal amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
What causes hypoglycemia? - The main cause of hypoglycemia is intentional or accidental overdose of antidiabetic medication, insulin or oral drugs.
What is reactive hypoglycemia? - Reactive hypoglycemia is a condition in which the symptoms of low blood sugar appear 2 to 5 hours after eating foods high in glucose.
What reactive hypoglycemia diet is suggested? - Individuals with reactive hypoglycemia respond favorably to high-carbohydrate, high-fiber, restricted-simple sugar diets.
What is fasting hypoglycemia? - Fasting hypoglycemia, which most commonly occurs among people with diabetes when too much insulin is administered, is potentially very dangerous.
What are the symptoms of hypoglycemia? - Mild hypoglycemia can cause nausea, a jittery or nervous feeling, cold and clammy skin, and a rapid heartbeat. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, and coma.
How is hypoglycemia diagnosed? - A low sugar level in the blood found at the time a person is experiencing typical symptoms of hypoglycemia confirms the diagnosis in a person without diabetes.
What're the treatments for hypoglycemia? - The symptoms of hypoglycemia are relieved within minutes of consuming sugar in any form, such as candy or glucose tablets, or of drinking a sweet drink.
How to prevent hypoglycemia? - People with diabetes should always have ready access to emergency supplies for treating unexpected episodes of hypoglycemia. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005