Monday, February 28, 2011

Postprandial Hypoglycaemia

During one of many, many coffee breaks, my clinical pharmacology supervisor mentioned a strange condition that really caught my attention. Maybe you have heard of it, but it was new to me and so I will share it with you because that's what I do. It's called "Postprandial Hypoglycaemia", and patients experience symptomatic low blood sugar within a few hourse of a high-carbohydrate meal.

Wikipedia seems confident that researchers know all about it, but my supervisor is also an endocrinologist and he tells me that researchers are actaully still arguing about the mechanism. He believes that it occurs when the stomach allows a high-energy portion of food into the duodenum instead of carefully rationing it out over time. This leads to a glucose spike, which causes a massive release of insulin - too much for the glucose that is present. When the insulin does its job, the blood sugar levels crash down and patients become fatigued, dizzy, light-headed and irritable.

Another theory is that a poorly functioning pancreas releases disproportionately high levels of insulin, to the same effect.

I asked, how does one treat such a complex endocrinological disorder? As it turns out, management is simple - eat frequent low-carb meals. Nice.

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