Hypoglycemia Diagnosis

A three-step approach: Whipple’s Triad

Written by Amy Hess-Fischl MS, RD, LDN, BC-ADM, CDE
Reviewed by Brigid Gregg MD

A diagnosis of hypoglycemia is not based only on symptoms. Rather, endocrinologists look for the presence Whipple's Triad, named for Allen O.Whipple, MD. These three factors help doctors diagnose hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar (blood glucose).

Whipple's Triad involves:

According to the textbook Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods, a blood glucose level equal to or below 50mg/dL (normal blood glucose is 80-120) without the presence of diabetes warrants proper medical assessment.

Fasting or reactive hypoglycemia is diagnosed by a blood test to measure blood glucose. The test may be performed after fasting overnight, physical activity, or between meals.

Of course, if your endocrinologist suspects a hormone deficiency, pancreatic tumor, or another cause of hypoglycemia, further testing and evaluation is required.

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