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June 29, 2006

Hypoglycemia

Question from Ireland:

My daughter had a bad turn the other night, but I was able to deal with it myself without medical care. I did take her to the doctor the next day. Her sugar levels went down to 3.1 mmol/L [56 mg/dl] at the lowest. Half her body went numb along with her face. It was a nightmare getting food into her. She didn't know what was going on so, she was screeching. She is grand now, no worries. Why was this hypoglycemic reaction so severe at 3.1 mmol/L [56 mg/dl] when she has been lower and had absolutely no symptoms at all. What was different?

Answer:

I think that quite probably your daughter is suffering from hypoglycemic unawareness. In fact, sometimes after many low or close to low blood sugars, people lose the early warning symptoms of hypoglycemia and, if the rate of declining blood sugar is too fast, can get serious neurological symptoms (e.g., loss of consciousness) first. Apparently, the body’s ability to recognize and give the appropriate signals of impending low blood sugar are blunted as a direct result of repeated lows, leaving the individual open to severe hypoglycemia. Often, easing up on control a little bit and eliminating low blood sugars as much as possible will bring back the early warning symptoms.

MS