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January 26, 2003

Hypoglycemia

Question from Buffalo, New York, USA:

I've had reactive and fasting hypoglycemia for six years, and last weekend, I tried using an Extend Bar overnight. My blood sugar was 96 mg/dl [5.3 mmol/L] at 2:00 am, which is higher than I usually am at that time, and still 70 mg/dl [3.9 mmol/L] by morning, which I consider fine for myself. The rest of the weekend, however, I was overall lower than usual. My blood sugar hardly went above 80 mg/dl [4.4 mmol/L] the whole time (approximately three days), but I threw up twice. Could it be something in the bar? What number should it generally be good for me to keep my blood sugar over at all times? My doctor said 70 mg/dl [3.9 mmol/L], but I feel better eating something small if I'm below 70 mg/dl [3.9 mmol/L] and have a while to go before my next meal.

Answer:

The honest answer is that there is not a solid lower limit for normal blood sugars. We usually think of sugars below 60 mg/dl [3.3 mmol/L] with symptoms, but there is some gray area here. I am not clear at all that the nausea was caused by low sugars. Small frequent meals is the way to go. Anything that keeps you from having symptoms and does not promote weight gain would be satisfactory.

JTL