Bulletin #44

Hypoglycemia Association, Inc.
Box 165
Ashton, MD 20861-0165
(Founded in 1967)

Our bulletin is not meant to be medical advice. It is written by lay people, dedicated to helping those with hypoglycemia. All cases are individual. If you need medical advice, see your physician.

Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia And Hypoadrenocorticism

The Wrong Diet can produce stress in the body. The body must then compensate, or adapt to keep functioning. Selye and Tintera have found that the keystone of defense is the adrenal cortex. An individual with adrenal under-function does not handle stress well. Tintera calls this hypoadrenocorticism (Bul 96). Selye writes that the main regulators of the stress syndrome are: brain, nerves, pituitary, adrenals, thyroid, liver, kidney, blood vessels, connective tissue cells, and white blood cells. These main regulators interact, causing the body to adjust or adapt. The way in which they interact is different for every person depending on one's conditioning factors such as heredity, previous exposures, diet, etc. Thus, the same stress my result in chest pain in one person, depression in another, and allergies or general well being in others who are able to adapt, at least for the time being.

The Great Number of Symptoms which may result from the failure of the hormonal adaption mechanism is admittedly a challenge to credibility. Excessive fatigue and inability to concentrate are the most common. Salzar found that relative hypoglycemia mimics any neuropsychiatric disorder. He listed the major symptoms from a psychiatric standpoint: depression, insomnia, irritability, lack of concentration, crying spells, phobias, forgetfulness, confusion, unsocial or anti-social behavior, and suicidal tendencies.

Early Symptoms of hypoglycemia are similar to those which occur as the result of experiencing a sudden and violent fear: fainting, tremulousness, and "inward trembling", emotional disturbances, chilliness, numbness and pallor encircling the mouth, hunger, apprehension, palpitation, hand tremors, mild degree of mental cloudiness, dilated pupils and pale skin.

As the Hypoglycemia Progresses a variety of symptoms occur such as headaches, difficulty in concentration, disorientation, mental confusion, dizziness, faintness, double vision, coldness of the extremities, staggering or inability to walk, muscle twitching, depression, restlessness and mania (excessive excitement). Unless recognized and treated, severe hypoglycemia can lead to generalized convulsions followed by retrograde amnesia and unconsciousness. (Retrograde means moving backwards to a worse state.)

The Chief Complaints for patients with underlying hypoadrenocorticism are often similar to those found in persons in the hypoglycemic state. The also do not handle stress well. They are frequently negativistic, tend to resent authority, display compulsive behavior, are usually perfectionists who often drive themselves to exhaustion, fell better and work better after meals. They can undergo severe personality and emotional changes which, fortunately, in most cases are reversible. The following symptoms are common:

craving for salt
craving for sweets
alcohol intolerance
abdominal distress
lack of appetite
premenstrual tension
chronic colitis
ringing in the ears
heat exhaustion
rheumatoid arthritis
feelings of frustration
food or drug idiosyncrasies
alternate diarrhea and constipation
unusual frequency of urination
unusual infrequency of urination
skin eruptions and inflammations
pain in neck and shoulder muscles
degenerative changes in kidneys

Dizziness and vertigo are the subject of a paper by Curries. Roberts discusses drowsiness and narcolepsy as factors of hypoglycemia


The light hurts my eyes.
My mouth is so dry I feel as if I could spit cotton.
I feel drowsy after a sweet/starchy meal.
The pain in my neck is murder.
I feel best after the evening meal.
I frequently have nightmares.
I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.
My hands perspire when I have to make a speech in public, or take a test.
Preparing for a trip is terribly exhausting, leaving me sick and distressed and sometimes I cry
I have to drink coffee or caffeinated sof t drinks to keep going.
I have frequent abdominal pain or gas.
When I introduce people, I panic and forget their names.
I was considered a good student, but I almost failed several subjects. Studying was a tremendous effort.
I avoid social engagement with all sorts of excuses.
Sometimes I wake up in a sweat at night.
I think I am especially sensitive to color, sound, and odor.
I insult people without meaning to. I regret it afterward, but it happens again and again.
This itching and crawling of the skin is nerve racking.
I just can't get organized.
I either feel guilty or I blame others.
I can't handle stress.
I cry easily.
I get angry easily, which may result in my yelling at the person. It takes a long time to recover.
When I get up quickly from a reclining position, I get dizzy. Sometimes I black out or everything becomes dim.
I sleep so hard, as if drugged, with a feeling of sinking, sinking; I try to wake myself up but can't.
I have a history of constipation problems.
I often feel tired or blue, but after eating ice cream or candy I feel well and happy for a short time.
I have always had trouble with motion sickness.
Often when I go to get something, I forget what I went for.
I know I'm a doormat. I don't know how to stand up for myself.
I can't get to the bottom of my breath.
I get frequent colds.
My insides feel weak and trembly.
It was six months before I felt happy and really able to take care of my new baby.
I have difficulty keeping a job. I get irritated with people I work with.
My heart beats too fast sometimes.
My heart beats too slow sometimes.
The day I go shopping I just have no strength left for anything else.


1. Hans Sleye, M.D.,The Stress of Life, N.Y., McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc. '56

2. John W. Tintera, M.D., The Hypoadrenocortical State and Its Management,: N.Y. State J. of Med., Vol. 55, No. 13, 7/1/55.

3. Harry Salzar, M.D., Relative Hypoglycemia as a Cause of Neuropsychiatric Illness, J. of Nat. Medical Assn., 1/66 Vol. 58, No.1.

4. W.D. Currier, M.D., Dizziness Related to Hypoglycemia: The Role of Adrenal Steroids and Nutrition, J. of Applied Nutr., Vol. 21, No. 1&2 '69.

5. H.J. Roberts, M.D., The Syndrome of Narcolepsy and Diabetogenic Hyper insulinism in the American Negro, J. Amer. Geriatrics Soc. V. 13, #9 '65.