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September 28, 2003

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Greenback, Tennessee, USA:

I was told that since my father has been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, he has a greater chance of developing diabetes. Is there anything to your knowledge that can support this statement to be true? If the answer is yes, should he be testing his blood sugar often?

Answer:

I would say that there may be some increased risk, but the amount of increased risk is not clear. Symptoms of hypoglycemia are quite vague. The presence of symptoms does not confirm the problem or rule it out. The most important point is that individuals should work towards a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise. It is not clear that treating with medications is the most important thing to do.

JTL

[Editor’s comment: If your father has a documented diagnosis of hypoglycemia (based on blood sugar testing done by a laboratory, not by a home blood glucose meter), then there might be some advantage for him to occasionally check his blood sugars at home using a meter to find out if he might have developed hyperglycemia. The problem is, how often to check — I advised my patients to check if they are ill with a cold or flu or other infection, as these infections are fairly common, and it’s at times of stress like this that the blood sugar levels might go above normal.

WWQ]