Reactive Hypoglycemia or Afternoon Slump?

Is Low Blood Sugar Causing Your Afternoon Fatigue?

Reactive hypoglycemia is a medical condition that requires treatment.
Reactive hypoglycemia is a medical condition that usually requires treatment by a doctor if you want to get through the afternoon without feeling the need to crawl under your desk for a quick nap.

Many of today's workplaces are riddled with thousands of chemicals used to create everything from toner to office furniture. In addition to exposure to chemicals, thanks to the invention of the office cubicle, workers are often packed into small spaces where airborne germs can spread rapidly. Being inside office buildings without natural ventilation and natural light can be stressful and for some, can lead to a general feeling of malaise or fatigue.

If you feel great outside the workplace, but your energy fades as the day waxes on when you are at work, you may just be having a common workplace effect known as afternoon slump.

One Dr. Sally Norton describes afternoon slump this way: "a wave of tiredness, a loss of concentration and the seemingly impossible battle to keep your eyes open."

Afternoon slump affects most people mid- late afternoon, usually around three and is more a "life" condition than a medical condition and simple changes in your routine and diet may be enough to end afternoon slump for good.

But severe afternoon slump should not be dismissed as an ordinary and expected part of your work day. Extreme fatigue, especially when the symptoms of shakiness, dizziness, or sweating are present, could be a warning sign of reactive hypoglycemia.

Severe "slump" symptoms include a profound and intense desire to sleep, muscle fatigue, sweating, the shakes, headaches, changes in vision, or any combination of these symptoms.

These symptoms are not signs of "normal" sluggishness that can occur in mid-morning or the afternoon.

There are many reasons people develop a sluggish feeling in the afternoon (and for some, the "afternoon" slump actually occurs in mid-morning.) But when symptoms become severe enough that they decrease your ability to complete tasks, you may want to seek advice from a physician to rule out certain health problems.

Reactive Hypoglycemia - Low Blood Sugar in People Who Do Not Have Diabetes

Hypoglycemia means low blood sugar (or low blood glucose.) There are many things that can cause hypoglycemia including metabolic problems, medications, and insulin resistance. Reactive hypoglycemia occurs in response to (reactive to) some trigger.

Reactive hypoglycemia occurs in people who do not have diabetes but may sometimes also occur in people who have Type 2 diabetes. Suspected triggers for reactive hypoglycemia include:

  • A sensitivity to stress hormones;
  • Insufficient glucagon production (glucagon is the counter hormone to insulin - insulin lowers blood sugar and glucagon raises it); and
  • Enzyme deficiencies.

Reactive hypoglycemia can also start to occur in patients after gastric bypass surgery, and is more common in young children than in adults.

What to Know About Reactive Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia causes different symptoms and to varying degrees in people. Some people lack "hypoglycemia awareness" meaning that cannot "feel" that their blood sugar has dropped. The following are common symptoms people experiencing low blood sugar feel, or may exhibit:

  • Hunger or nausea
  • Shakiness and weakness
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Sweating or clammy hands, face, and forehead
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Headache and/or stomach ache
  • Sleepiness (disrupted sleep at night)
  • Mental Confusion
  • Irritability, crying, mood swings
  • Difficulty speaking; extreme lows can cause slurred speech
  • Feeling like you might pass out or an intense urge to sleep

Occasionally feeling sluggish in the afternoon, especially, if you are under a lot of stress, not eating properly, or getting enough sleep may be more annoying than anything else. But if you have any of the above symptoms, you may want to talk with your doctor about finding ways to rule out reactive hypoglycemia and to treat your symptoms so that you can get through the afternoon without feeling the need to crawl under your desk for a quick nap.

Many of today's workplaces are riddled with thousands of chemicals used to create everything from toner to office furniture.

In addition to exposure to chemicals, thanks to the invention of the office cubicle, workers are often packed into small spaces where airborne germs can spread rapidly. Being inside office buildings without natural ventilation and natural light can be stressful and for some, can lead to a general feeling of malaise or fatigue. If you feel great outside the workplace, but your energy fades as the day waxes on when you are at work, you may just be having a common workplace effect known as afternoon slump.

One Dr. Sally Norton describes afternoon slump this way: "a wave of tiredness, a loss of concentration and the seemingly impossible battle to keep your eyes open."

Afternoon slump affects most people mid- late afternoon, usually around three and is more a "life" condition than a medical condition and simple changes in your routine and diet may be enough to end afternoon slump for good.

But severe afternoon slump should not be dismissed as an ordinary and expected part of your work day. Extreme fatigue, especially when the symptoms of shakiness, dizziness, or sweating are present, could be a warning sign of reactive hypoglycemia.

Severe "slump" symptoms include a profound and intense desire to sleep, muscle fatigue, sweating, the shakes, headaches, changes in vision, or any combination of these symptoms. These symptoms are not signs of "normal" sluggishness that can occur in mid-morning or the afternoon.

There are many reasons people develop a sluggish feeling in the afternoon (and for some, the "afternoon" slump actually occurs in mid-morning.) But when symptoms become severe enough that they decrease your ability to complete tasks, you may want to seek advice from a physician to rule out certain health problems.

Reactive Hypoglycemia - Low Blood Sugar in People Who Do Not Have Diabetes

Hypoglycemia means low blood sugar (or low blood glucose.) There are many things that can cause hypoglycemia including metabolic problems, medications, and insulin resistance. Reactive hypoglycemia occurs in response to (reactive to) some trigger.

Reactive hypoglycemia occurs in people who do not have diabetes but may sometimes also occur in people who have Type 2 diabetes. Suspected triggers for reactive hypoglycemia include:

  • A sensitivity to stress hormones
  • Insufficient glucagon production (glucagon is the counter hormone to insulin - insulin lowers blood sugar and glucagon raises it)
  • Enzyme deficiencies

Reactive hypoglycemia can also start to occur in patients after gastric bypass surgery, and is more common in young children than in adults.

What to Know About Reactive Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia causes different symptoms and to varying degrees in people. Some people lack "hypoglycemia awareness" meaning that cannot "feel" that their blood sugar has dropped. The following are common symptoms people experiencing low blood sugar feel, or may exhibit:

  • Hunger or nausea
  • Shakiness and weakness
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Sweating or clammy hands, face, and forehead
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Headache and/or stomach ache
  • Sleepiness (disrupted sleep at night)
  • Mental Confusion
  • Irritability, crying, mood swings
  • Difficulty speaking; extreme lows can cause slurred speech
  • Feeling like you might pass out or an intense urge to sleep

Occasionally feeling sluggish in the afternoon, especially, if you are under a lot of stress, not eating properly, or getting enough sleep may be more annoying than anything else. But if you have any of the above symptoms, you may want to talk with your doctor about finding ways to rule out reactive hypoglycemia and to treat your symptoms so that you can get through the afternoon without feeling the need to crawl under your desk for a quick nap.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from a licensed health professional. If you suspect you may have problems with low blood sugar called your doctor immediately.

Find Your Next Job

Job Search by