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December 29, 2000

Diagnosis and Symptoms, Hypoglycemia

Question from Marlton, New Jersey, USA:

I am a 46 year old woman who has had hypoglycemia for approximately 25 years. I recently have had acute orthostatic hypotension, combined with benign positional vertigo. I have been experiencing excess thirst, frequency of urination (especially at night), fatigue, weakness in the legs and arms, and most recently, rapid weight gain and fluid retention in my feet hands and face. My last 12 hour fasting blood was 78 mg/dl [4.3 mmol/L] ( I usually averaged 56 mg/dl [3.1 mmol/L]. Is it possible that I no longer have hypoglycemia, and I now have diabetes? Before I go on a wild goose chase of medical testing, I would like to know what you think.

Answer:

It is not far-out to think that you might have diabetes, based on your symptoms. The only way to know is to have your blood sugar tested. It has been claimed that some people with intermittent hypoglycemia have problems with hyperinsulinemia and disregulation of insulin secretion. I don’t know if this has been clearly illustrated, but I have heard it discussed. However, you want to make sure you are tested, given the kind of symptoms you are having.

JTL

[Editor’s comment: Also, with the combination of hypoglycemia and hypotension, be sure that the doctor checks for Addison’s disease (adrenal gland failure).

WWQ]