Hypoglycemia Disorders Treated in the Department
Hypoglycemia can be a condition by itself or a complication of diabetes mellitus or other disorders.
Hypoglycemia occurs usually after hours of fasting and can be due to several causes:
- hormonal deficiencies (cortisol, growth hormone in children, glucagon, and epinephrine) or
- severe critical illnesses (cardiac, hepatic, and renal diseases).
Insulinoman is a tumor of the pancreas that produces excessive amounts of insulin. Insulinomas are more common in women. The tumors are usually small (less than 2cm) and more than 90% of all insulinomas are non-cancerous. Insulinomas produce excessive amounts of insulin and this causes low blood sugar.
A pathologically low plasma glucose concentration occurs only in response to meals, usually within four hours. It’s also called postprandial hypoglycemia. Symptoms suggestive of postprandial (reactive) hypoglycemia may occur in the absence of recognizable disease.
The most frequent culprit is mistaken use of insulin or oral antidiabetic medication, but also some other drugs are implicated in producing symptoms of hypoglycemia, especially in patients with renal or hepatic failure.
Sometimes, patients with fasting hypoglycemia (particularly those with an underlying insulin-secreting tumor) may have also a reactive component.