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August 8, 2001

Hypoglycemia

Question from Rochester, New York, USA:

I am 67 years old, have had type�1 diabetes for 53 years, and over the years I have had many low blood sugars. My memory is getting weak. I realize brain cells burn out during these lows. What can I do?

Answer:

You’re are probably aware that after many years of diabetes (especially if over these years you have had many lows), hypoglycemia unawareness is a common problem and might impair your memory (even though it’s not generally the main cause of this impairment). In fact, after many years of diabetes, you may lose the glucagon as well as adrenalin countersecretion to impending low blood sugar, and this can further lead to a variety of “neuroglycopenic” symptoms such as memory deficit. A short period of “relaxed” blood sugar control generally is able to ameliorate these symptoms.

MS