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December 15, 1999

Hypoglycemia

Question from Canton, Ohio, USA:

When I was sixteen I was having symptoms that made my doctor order fasting blood tests. At these tests the drink that they gave me made me sick within minutes. They tried giving me the drink two times and each time I barely made it from the lab to the restroom before being sick. Then the doctor suggested that I come back and do the test the next week again. That time the same thing happened. From the fact that I could not keep the drink in my system for any length of time, he determined that I had hypoglycemia. I don't know if that would be the normal determination, or how he came to that conclusion since I couldn't complete the tests. During all of my pregnancies they tested me regularly. In my last pregnancy my doctor informed me that he would give me a 99% chance of becoming diabetic within 10 years. That was nine years ago and I have had so many symptoms that I am going to be tested. I have extreme and constant thirst, shakes if I don't eat properly, a lot of urination, hard to heal, dry scalp and skin, and recently a surgeon told me that the skin tags that I have developed in the past few years are also a symptom. Is that true? Could it be that at sixteen I was more than hypoglycemic?

Answer:

The rather concentrated dextrose solution used in oral glucose tolerance tests has a tendency to make people sick, and the fact that it had this effect on you does not to my mind justify a diagnosis of hypoglycemia in the absence of any supporting data. The tests that your doctor is now planning will almost certainly decide whether or not you have diabetes and without the need to repeat the earlier test.

DOB