Yes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is the opposite of the hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) that characterizes diabetes. Certain treatments for diabetes and several conditions unrelated to diabetes can cause hypo- glycemia. The most common form of hypoglycemia occurs in otherwise healthy young individuals, more commonly in women than men, and is quite benign, although it can be associated with distressing symp- toms. Fortunately, it is usually treatable by adjustment of the composition and timing of meals. Sometimes, hypoglycemia can be caused by serious conditions and your doctor will be able to determine whether you are one of the small percentage of people who needs fur- ther investigation and specialist referral.
It is important to note that hypoglycemia can be an early feature of diabetes. This type of hypoglycemia occurs in people with prediabetes (see Question 9) who are resistant to the action of insulin and yet are still capable of mounting a vigorous insulin release from the pancreas to overcome it. In the later stages of absorption of calories from a meal, the insulin levels may remain high as the blood glucose level is falling quite rapidly. This may lead to a temporary but some- times distressing period of low blood sugar that usually occurs about 3 to 5 hours after a meal. It tends to resolve if the prediabetes progresses to frank diabetes, but in some people, it may persist for some years. It is also often treatable by dietary adjustment or other means.