Definition of Hypoglycemia:
Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, occurs when your blood glucose (blood sugar) level drops too low to provide enough energy for your body's activities. In adults or children older than 10 years, hypoglycemia is uncommon except as a side effect of diabetes treatment, but it can result from other medications or diseases, hormone or enzyme deficiencies, or tumors. Hypoglycemia symptoms in humans generally begin to be noticed when the glucose concentration drops to the mid-50s mg/dl. This is usually when most people begin to sense things from the counterregulatory hormones that are released (mostly from epinepherine and norepinepherine - "the fight or flight hormones").
MAGE: you pose a very interesting question. All mammals including marsupials basically have the same organs right down to parathyroids. However, there can be innumerable reasons for hypoglycemia. The one most people are familiar with is when the Islands of Langerhans in the pancreas produce excessive amounts of insulin. But you would be surprised at what other conditions can cause overproduction of insulin leading to hypoglycemic symptoms:
1) tumors of the retroperitoneal area
2) tumors of the Islands of Langerhans
3) damage to liver cells (because the liver is the source of most of the glucose entering the blood while a person or animal is fasting, damaged liver cells can result in impaired ability to convert glycogen into glucose.
4) if secretion of the adrenocortical hormones (esp. the glucocorticoids) is deficient, the protein precursors of glucose are not available and the blood glucose level drops as the liver's glygogen supply is depleted.
5) neoplasms such as carcinomas, lymphocytic leukemia, plasma cell tumor & diffuse metastatic melanoma can cause clinical signs of hypoglycemia.
6) Hypoglycemia-ketonemia symptoms have been noted in pregnancy-related toxemia. However, given that human women have placental pregnancies while female glider pregnancies are mainly of a lacteal nature, I tend to doubt females gliders would experience this condition.
Other reasons for hypoglycemia can include:
1) Delaying or skipping a meal
2) Eating too little food at a meal
3) Getting more exercise than usual
4) Taking too much diabetes medicine, especially insulin, sulfonylureas, or meglitinides
5) Drinking alcohol can cause FASTING hypoglycemia when alcoholics who have damaged their liver from years of alcohol abuse don't eat for a prolonged period.
6) organ failure
7) hormone deficiency Adrenal Insuffiency, severe hypothyroidism, and hypopituartism can all Hypoglycemic symptoms which disappear when treated with hormone replacement drugs.
8) drugs such as insulin and sulfonylureas, Pentamidine, Beta-blockers, quinine (in high doses), quinidine, salicylates (aspirin, especially in children),
sulfonamides, disopyramide, propoxyphene, and haloperidol.
9) Non-beta cell tumors. Large cancers can cause hypoglycemia usually because they make a molecule called IGF-II (insulin like growth factor, 2). This molecule
has the ability to act like insulin and lower glucose.
10) Insulin excess states. There are 3 of these and all are rare. Insulinoma, a tumor of the pancreas beta-cells that make insulin, has an incidence of one in a million. Some people make antibodies to insulin that prevents insulin from
being broken down, but the insulin still works normally, so the insulin lasts too long. And some people make an antibody to the insulin receptor, leaving the receptor in the "on" position as if insulin were attached to it.
11) Congenital & enzyme defects - Neonatal hypoglycemia, congenital enzyme deficiencies, ketoic hypoglycemia of childhood, galactosemia, and hereditary fructose intolerance.
A normal baby of a diabetic mother may have hypoglycemia at birth ("neonatal hypoglycemia") and come from the child having a beefed up pancreas making alot of insulin due to the mother having higher than normal glucose during the pregnancy.
12) Glucose intolerence and early diabetes is usually accompanied by high insulin levels (compared to non-diabetic people) and an insulin release that occurs for
a prolonged period after eating. This excess insulin can cause hypoglycemia after eating, even though the insulin doesn't work as well. Characteristicly the hypoglycemia from this cause occurs 3 - 5 hours after eating. drawn for glucose every 30 minutes until 2 hours have passed).
13) Alimentary hypoglycemia occurs from a mismatch of insulin & carbohydrate and insulin generally caused by an abnormality of the stomach. A meal usually sits in your stomach & is slowly released, so that the carbohydrate absorption occurs over a prolonged period. For people who have stomach surgery to remove part of the stomach or who dumps most of the meal into the small intestine immediately, there is a very rapid absorption of the carbohydrate. The rapid carb. absorption can be followed by a very brisk insulin release. The big insulin release can drive the glucose level very low. Of all the causes of reactive hypoglycemia, this can be the most dangerous. Alimentary hypoglycemia
has been reported to cause coma and seizures. Characteristicly the hypoglycemia from this cause occurs 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours after eating. It usually does not occur without a history of partial or total gastrectomy (stomach surgery)
Can hypoglycemia be life-threatening? Yes, if it progresses beyond the autonomic symptoms stage, hypoglycemia can become life-threatening. Autonomic symptoms begin to occur in humans when the glucose concentration drops to the mid-50s mg/dl. Autonomic symptoms
include: shakiness, pounding/racing heart, nervousness, anxiety, perspiration, tingling, feeling hungry, and sensing that the blood sugar is low.
If the hypoglycemic episode remains untreated, it progresses to the next stage where neuroglycopenic symptoms
are observed: confusion, fatigue, drowsiness, warmth, difficulty speaking, incoordination, and odd behavior. It can progress to coma, seizures, and death at glucose levels in the 30s mg/dl or below.
If I had to make an educated guess, I'd venture to say that pretty much the same applies to other mammalian species but do not personally know at what mg/dl
levels the above symptoms would be noted in gliders.
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I think that hypoglycemia is probably not the problem for most sugar gliders out there, and if it is, it is the diet that is the issue.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there is a difference between the hypoglycemia in people and other animals.
<hr /></blockquote><font class="post"> As you can see from the above, diet itself does not cause hypoglycemia unless it is due to delaying or skipping a meal and/or eating too little food at a meal which can impact on glucose levels.
In the majority of situations, there is either an underlying primary medical condition responsible for the secondary hypoglycemia symptoms being observed; or inducement of hypoglycemia because of certain drugs or liver damage from long-term alcohol abuse.
However, one thing of interest is the fact that excessive exercise can cause a hypoglycemic episode as such exercise changes the demands/requirements of the body with respect to glucose rather suddenly. Is there a possibility that excessive exercise by a glider could induce a hypoglycemic episode? Possibly but when this occurs, the body's automatic response is to stop such activity and glucose levels then begin to return to normal levels.
In situations where vets
believe they are seeing a hypoglycemic condition in a glider, the vet
really should do blood work to check glucose levels. Also, if a vet
suspects hypoglycemia to have been involved in the death of a glider, a necropsy should be done to check the organs for signs of tumors that are known to cause hypoglycemia symptoms. This is the only way a definitive diagnosis can be made as to cause of death.