Hypoglycemia and cirrhosis : Hi everyone... - British Liver Trust

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Hypoglycemia and cirrhosis

Novakat93 profile image

Hi everyone. Does anyone experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) attacks as a result of their cirrhosis? I get them frequently, ask liver doc and he doesn’t see a correlation. But I am convinced their is. Just curious if anyone else experiences this?

10 Replies


I have liver cirrhosis which was found during stomach bypass surgery. I am type 2 diabetic and suffer hypo. I have been told that I have reactive hypoglycemia which means that my body can not reduce insulin fast enough after a glucose hit. This means that my body continues to lower my glucose levels beyond normal levels. Normally happens upto 4 hours after my glucose intake.

Not sure if you are experiencing the same but might be worth asking the question. "Is it reactive hypoglycemia?"

Hope that helps

Not been officially diagnosed with Cirrhosis but have had several symptoms (since 2011!!!) itchy legs, strongly suspected episodes of HE, enlarged liver on CT (2012) & low blood sugar episodes. But normal bloods. Still having low blood sugar symptoms. Think of it as reverse diabetes. Reduce sugar intake/easily digestible carbs if you can to avoid an ‘overreaction’ if you are getting it bad ;)

My hubby who has cirrhosis has what we can only describe as a 'power outage'. We've never tested his blood sugar but it's as if someone pulls the plug on him and both physically and mentally his body just fades out - if he sits down and eats something then he picks up after about 10 minutes. Hubby has seen a liver specialist dietician who put him on an eating plan which involves eating every couple of hours and provided us with information in which it states:-

"When you eat starchy carbohydrate it is broken down into sugar (glucose). This is your body’s main energy source. Some of this energy is stored in your muscles and liver as a starch called glycogen. This is a back-up energy store to be used later when it is needed, between meals, if you have missed a meal or during a long fast such as overnight.

The liver co-ordinates the release of this energy until you next have something to eat; these energy stores are then replaced at your next meal. If the liver is not working properly and you develop liver disease symptoms, the liver cannot replace this store.

The energy from the food you eat only lasts for 2 hours. If you have liver disease and have no energy stores, your body must find an alternative source of energy after this time. Fat tissue is hard to break down quickly, so instead your body will break down its own muscles for energy. If this continues, your muscles will get weaker and waste away."

This seemed to explain his power outages and he now snacks regularly between meals.

Hubby has recently been diagnosed with cirrhosis induced early diabetes following a fasting blood sugar test which was a bit high. We checked with liver dietician and she has advised he keep on with his liver diet, making sure he keeps fuelling.

I don't know whether that explains your hypoglycemia or not.


Novakat93 profile image
Novakat93 in reply to AyrshireK

Thank you, that’s a great help. I’ll ask my liver doc next time I go. I don’t have diagnosed diabetes and tests don’t indicate I have it. I figure it has something to do with cirrhosis.

Jojochr profile image
Jojochr in reply to AyrshireK

That's really interesting, can I ask what your husband snacks on? I am looking for healthy snack ideas to get me through long shifts at work.

AyrshireK profile image
AyrshireK in reply to Jojochr

Same leaflet as that excerpt above says "It is important that you try and eat regular meals and snacks containing carbohydrate every 2-3 hours.

To prevent muscle being used for energy and to keep you strong, it is important to ‘re-fuel’ your body regularly. Eating meals and snacks containing starchy carbohydrate every 2-3 hours provides enough energy to stop your body breaking down its own muscles."

For fuelling between meals especially if out walking or doing anything taxing he will have flapjack (as recommended by his dietician), he can also have things like cheddars biscuits and even the odd 'real' biscuit or cake etc.

The leaflet above states:- Examples of carbohydrate snacks for between your meals include:

- Biscuits

- Cakes

- Crackers

- Toast

- Small sandwich

- Tea cake

- Scone

- Malt loaf

- Crumpet

- Pikelet

- Chocolate bar.

Some of these arn't necessarily healthy as such but by the time your cirrhotic liver is using your muscles for fuel because it can't metabolize energy properly healthy means something completely different. I sought advice from dietician when hubby was diagnosed with early diabetes on top of his cirrhosis ( he was previously very malnourished so dieting and loosing weight are not an option as we've worked hard to rebuild weight and muscle).

If you can get to see a dietician that is the best option to ensure you are doing what your individual circumstances requires.


Jojochr profile image
Jojochr in reply to AyrshireK

Thanks Katie, as soon as I get a consultation I will be requesting to see a dietitian. I like the flapjack idea might look for some recipes. Thanks x

Robbie21 profile image
Robbie21 in reply to AyrshireK

My husband was exactly the same pre transplant. Great analogy- pulling the plug.! I used to leave the house with bags full of snacks.

The episodes stopped completed after he recieved his new liver.

My dad has portal hypertension not from cirrhosis. He just had a scare with low sugar levels. His was 11 when the emt took his sugar level. He spent time inn hospital for them to get it back up and the diabetes dr seems to think it is because his body isn’t releasing stress hormones or something of the sort. She put him on hydrocortisone to help with the body releasing those stress. He’s been ok since. It’s only been a week

Hi there. I agree with Katie. I have to eat several small meals. I too have a power outage if I'm not careful! I also struggle if I exercise too much.

Hope you find your answers, as with everything, chat with your GP or local friendly pharmacist, or the lovely BLT helpline staff!!🌈

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