Reactive Hypoglycemia

Today’s blog post is an informational piece about reactive hypoglycemia from Dr. Maria Lee. Dr. Lee practices out of two of our Houston area locations.

Signs and Symptoms of Reactive Hypoglycemia

Reactive hypoglycemia is a disorder in which the pancreas overreacts to ingested carbohydrates by releasing an exaggerated amount of insulin. This inappropriate rise in insulin causes the blood sugar levels to dip low (“hypoglycemia”) and produces symptoms such as shakiness, nervousness, confusion, or sweating. If severely low, it can cause loss of consciousness or seizure. By definition, reactive hypoglycemia excludes the type of hypoglycemia caused by an insulin producing tumor, or “insulinoma.” The types of carbohydrates that trigger reactive hypoglycemia most often are refined sugars, like those found in cakes, cookies, soda, juice, etc. but often times carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice, or potatoes can also trigger it.

What can I do?

An important clue that you may have reactive hypoglycemia is if you have symptoms of low blood sugar following a high carbohydrate meal, and then your symptoms improve temporarily after you eat more carbohydrates. Low blood sugar is important to identify and treat as it can lead to major accidents, especially if it happens while driving or operating other heavy machinery. Diagnosis can be made with fingerstick blood sugar testing and a food diary, as well as a glucose tolerance test. First line treatment is dietary modification. Medications are also available if dietary changes are insufficient for preventing the low blood sugar.

If you or your doctor feel like you may have reactive hypoglycemia, please give us a call at 713-973-3459 to schedule an appointment or visit our website at

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