Factitious Hypoglycemia

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May 08, 2002

In This Article

Factitious Disorders

Factitious disorders are self-induced symptoms or diseases that occur among patients who are conscious of their behaviors but may be unconscious of their underlying motives.[1] A review of the medical literature indicates a considerable increase in the frequency of reporting of factitious disorders, yet healthcare professionals may be unaware of the problem.[2] Factitious hypoglycemia, one of the best-characterized factitious diseases,[3] is a deliberate attempt to induce hypoglycemia by means of insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs.[4] It is most commonly observed in healthcare professionals, diabetic patients or their relatives, and individuals with a history of factitious disorders.[5] However, suspicion should be raised if the patient has a previous history of psychiatric illness or attention-seeking behavior.[6] Early diagnosis of factitious hypoglycemia is very important[4] because the patient's behavior exposes the patient to the risk of permanent injury or death.[3]

Factitious hypoglycemia should be considered in any patient who requires a fasting glucose test for hypoglycemia.[7] When a diagnosis of factitious hypoglycemia is suspected, the patient's medical records should be reviewed for similar hospital admissions.[7] Treatment of factitious hypoglycemia often requires psychiatric or supportive care.[8]

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