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June 7, 2001

Hypoglycemia

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Question from Wichita, Kansas, USA:

I am 52 years old, have had diabetes for 33 years, and when I was younger, I could always feel when my blood sugars were low or high, but now I must check my blood to tell what my blood sugars are; sometimes I can function just fine when my blood sugars are below 30 mg/dl [1.7 mmol/L]. Thank goodness for the new testers. I usually check my blood 6-10 times a day.

Answer:

Unfortunately, the ability to sense low sugars is less with longer durations of diabetes. I’m glad you are testing frequently.

JTL

[Editor’s comment: As Dr Lane has suggested, many people develop hypoglycemia unawareness after living with diabetes for many years. There is some evidence that if you let your blood sugars run a little higher for a while, you may redevelop your ability to detect hypoglycemia.

SS]