Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today Was Eye Opening

Today has been interesting. The following link, which was shared by a thoughtful poster on Livin' Low-Carb Discussion, is why....

Reactive Hypoglycemia: A Disease Of Carbohydrate Poisoning

All of the sudden I'm putting puzzles pieces in place that actually fit. I am now 95% convinced that I am reactive hypoglycemic. I say only 95% because there is still a slight chance there are other issues. But that chance has reduced drastically, at least in my mind.

Here are the parts that stand out for me:(symptoms I have in bold)

Let me list a few symptoms, just to show you that you are not immune:

* Breathlessness
* Panic Attacks
* Memory Problems
* Inability to Concentrate
* Inner Trembling and Pounding Heart 1-4 Hours after a Meal
* Palpitations/Irregular Heartbeat
* Weight Gain in Abdominal Area
* Nightmares

If you recognize any three of these symptoms in yourself over a period of time, you are probably at risk for reactive hypoglycemia.

A more complete list of symptoms:

* Fatigue
* Irritability
* Nervousness
* Depression
* Loss of libido
* Insomnia
* Flushing
* Leg or foot cramps
* Memory and concentration problems
* Anxiety
* Hypertension
* Impotence and inability to maintain an erection
* Headaches
* Dizziness, and sometimes even actual fainting
* Blurring of vision
* Nasal congestion
* Tinnitus (ringing ears)
* Numbness and tingling of the hands, feet or face
* Bloating
* Abdominal cramps
* Bowel problems

Out of 29 symptoms I have 17! For the first time I'm seeing a connection with all these symptoms, which I always assumed were separate issues. Just today, while shopping with my children, I had a dizzy spell, and then was lightheaded for a good little while. We quickly finished the shopping and once I got in the car I ate an Atkins bar. Not long afterwards I felt normal again. I now realize how crucial it is that I carry a snack with me at all times.

More interesting info:

RHG occurs frequently in individuals suffering from Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and explains a lot of the symptoms that people with these syndromes have experienced but never had a clear picture of. FMS and CFS are hard to diagnose and some medical systems refuse to admit that such wide-ranging symptoms could all be generated by one overarching disorder.

Thyroid problems and adrenal insufficiency can also be present with hypoglycemia, and they are both frequently found with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. The difficulty with testing for them is that doctors tend to look at test results rather than symptoms. If you come to a doctor with every symptom listed at the above website, but your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is even 1 point inside the "normal" parameters, many times the doctor will tell you only that: "Your tests show that your TSH is within the normal range." (Loosely translated, this means, "Get out of my face with this stupid thyroid suspicion. I'm the doctor here.")

But there is nothing that will cure RHG once it gets established. The only way to deal with it is to put yourself on a STRICT low-carbohydrate diet, and STAY on it. As Dr. Starlanyl states in her article, this condition will lead to Type II diabetes if it is not carefully managed.

That last sentence, which I put in bold, is scarier to me than any Steven King novel ever thought about being.

So this could be a problem I'm having with FMS and/or Thyroid. Or could just be the problem all together.

When RHG sufferers test their fasting blood sugar in the morning, they will find it elevated. (Normal blood sugar in the fasting range should be between 80 and 100 mg/dl.) Their blood sugar will frequently be between 115 and 135. Over a period of careful diet and attention to other factors, like hormone supplementation, that fasting blood sugar should fall to more normal readings.

I've tested my fasting blood sugar twice after getting out of bed. The first time was 107, the second was 104. Not a huge jump from the norm, but above the norm none-the-less. Testing it during the day, after a meal, has been as high as 131. I doubt this is coincidence.

The author, Liz Pavek, doesn't claim to be a medical professional, but she does a good job of summing it up in layman's terms. There's a lot of other info in this article so be sure to check it out.

In summation: This girl is going to pull herself up by the bootstraps and be extra careful. I don't like needles, or medications, enough to risk not doing this right.


Carol Bardelli said...

Wow, that's really interesting reading. If this RHG is your issue that may be good news in that you can manage it. Another health issue we can manage with low carb - I'm not surprised.

I'm going low carb again on Monday after a three week break. I've noticed I get hungrier sooner since eating higher carb. And I'm sick of carbs. I want steak and salad! Fish and veggies!

Good luck on your dietary changes. I'll be following along with interest.

Amy Dungan (aka Sparky's Girl) said...

Thanks Carol. I know trying this treatment method certainly can't hurt me, so what I have I got to lose? :) I've been monitoring my blood sugar regularly, and I've seen some wildly differing numbers. I'm still trying to figure it all out.

Patty said...

Hi Amy -

I enjoy your blog. I feel like you and I may be living "parallel lives" in a way. I have been having a lot of energy and fatigue issues and was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I wonder if thyroid issues are part of how I'm feeling, but my TSH test came back within normal levels. I do have anemia and am taking weekly B-12 shots.

Anyway, I just related strongly to your posts and all this info about RHG. Thanks for posting it all.

(If you get a chance, check out my blog at

Tess said...

Might want to read Sugar Shock by Connie Bennet. It cover the subject real well.

Amy Dungan (aka Sparky's Girl) said...

Hi Patty! Thanks for visiting my blog! I do hope you find your answers soon. I've been taking my fasting blood sugar every morning and it's been baffling. I'll be explaining more in a post soon, but it's not what I expected at all.

You have a nice blog! Keep up the good work! :)

Amy Dungan (aka Sparky's Girl) said...

Hi Tess, thanks for the recommendation. I read Connies blog all the time and she has some great info!

Jennifer said...

Ian says he was able to tick off more symptoms than you for reactive hypoglycemia! He also has a sluggish thyroid, even although his TSH is in range, his FT3 is really low.

Hope you get your answers soon. The worst part is not knowing, I think.

Amy Dungan (aka Sparky's Girl) said...

Hi Jennifer. Sorry to hear Ian is even worse! I've been checking my fasting blood sugar every morning and it has ranged between 101 and 125 each time. Never below 101. I need to start checking my glucose before and 2 hours after every meal and document that as well so I can get an idea what is going on after I eat.

Jennifer said...

Hi Amy,

Even years ago, my husband,Ian, would say that he felt terrible after eating. He has a type of reactive hypoglycemia (if you look in Wikipedia several types are mentioned), where the stomach contents often empty way too quickly, leaving one low in blood sugar and feeling awful. His dad, a retired medical doctor, has the same problem at 82 years of age. It does not necessarily always progress to diabetes.

If your blood sugar dips soon after eating, then you know you have the reactive hypoglycemia similar to Ian and his dad. Otherwise, it is one of the other kinds.

It sure looks like you're being a good little detective. You know, many of us, as we get older have something wrong with us, but the main thing is to discover what it is and then manage it with the knowledge that we have. People often live long lives even if their health is not perfect, but as long as they are managing it. Think of the famous Dr. Bernstein (Diabetes Diet Solution book)who has lived with Diabetes 1 for almost 60 years. His health was really, really bad at one point and he determined to do the right things and the rest is history. He enjoys good health considering the seriousness of his diabetes. He in turn has helped many people regain their health.

You are young, you don't have diabetes and you know exactly how to avoid it forever and a day by low-carbing.

Amy Dungan (aka Sparky's Girl) said...

I agree that Dr. Bernstein has the most amazing story!

As far as rgh, I'm still playing detective. :) My fasting blood sugar indicates pre-diabetes (ranging from 101 - 125). So today I'm testing before and after meals to see what the results of those are as well.

I wish I could just go in and have Dr. Berkowitz officially do testing and diagnose these issues, but I'm in Illinois and he's in New York, so not gonna happen. All he can do it talk to me on the phone and give me his suggestions to try. Hopefully I'll locate an lc doctor nearby soon.

Jennifer said...

I agree that is scary that you have pre-diabetes. I'm sorry to hear that. However, you still don't have it, so chances are you can make sure you never get it through low-carbing and weight loss. You can normalize your blood sugars again. My friend who had diabetes, lost 90 lbs through low-carbing and is now considered a latent diabetic, which means she is essentially healthy right now with normal blood sugars.

As you well know, low-carbing can be a lot more challenging in terms of discipline but also a lot more fun at times than high-carbing. You will be able to pass on your knowledge to your children and make sure they stay healthy as well. That will be a big gift to them.

Many people could benefit from low-carbing and thus prevent these things from happening as we get older.

PJ said...

Most all those symptoms are similar to those of low oxygen as well. I have sleep apnea and the cumulative effects are very similar. My father also has SA and yet when he was diagnosed he was not even overweight. Go figure.

Amy Dungan (aka Sparky's Girl) said...

Hi PJ! Nice to see you!

That's interesting. It's amazing how many symptoms seem to be associated with so many different causes. It really makes it hard to figure it out sometimes.