Reactive Hypoglycaemia (RH) is a controversial condition that has been popularised in the media and lay literature. A recent survey of randomly selected women in Nottinghamshire revealed that 37.8% experience symptoms that they attribute to a 'low blood sugar', with over 18% experiencing symptoms more than once a week (1). The aim of this study was to investigate whether a non-patient group who report symptoms synonymous with RH have concomitant hypoglycaemia.
Thirty six non-obese, healthy women (19-45yr) who reported RH-like symptoms more than once a week in our original survey (RH group), and 20 controls who did not experience symptoms, were recruited. Exclusion criteria included diabetes mellitus, gastric or small bowel surgery and those known to be pregnant or peri-menopausal. Free-living, ambulatory blood glucose measurements were taken 3hr after breakfast, 3hr after lunch and whenever symptoms were experienced, using finger prick samples and a 'One Touch Profile' monitor. Symptoms occurring <4hr after eating were classified as postprandial readings. Results are expressed as mean (plus/minus SEM).
Symptomatic participants were 27.4(1.21)yr with a BMI of 22.3(0.41)kg per m2. Control participants were 29.4(1.65)yr with a BMI of 22.7(0.57) kg per m2. In RH subjects, postprandial symptoms occurred on average 2.5(0.08)hr after eating, at a lower mean blood glucose (4.05(0.09)mmol per litre) than when asymptomatic (p<0.001). Moreover, 3hr after eating, mean blood glucose in RH subjects when asymptomatic (4.65(0.04)), was significantly lower than controls (5.08(0.05)) (p<0.001). When the RH group were symptomatic, 10.6% of glucose readings were below 3.05 mmol per litre, compared with 1.5% when asymptomatic and 0.8% in controls. Although the mean blood glucose readings were in the euglycaemic range, postprandial blood glucose was lower in our symptomatic participants.
This study was approved by the University of Nottingham Medical School Ethics Committee and financially supported by the UK Sugar Bureau
1Prevalence of self-reported hypoglycaemic symptoms in the general female population of Nottinghamshire Simpson EJ, Holdsworth M, Macdonald IA. Int.J.Behav.Med. 2002. 9 supp1:251.
03 - 05 Nov 2003
Society for Endocrinology