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My nineteen year old daughter was recently diagnosed with hypoglycemia. Could you please explain what this is and why it never has appeared in any blood test before?


Technically, hypoglycemia refers to an abnormally low blood sugar level. This diagnosis can accurately be made only if a blood specimen is drawn when the person is having symptoms of low blood sugar. The blood specimen must also be properly processed to avoid a false drop in blood sugar level which can occur if the blood sits in some test tubes too long without being centrifuged.

If your daughter is having severe symptoms of low blood sugar such as loss of consciousness or seizures, or if true low blood sugar is documented in a properly processed specimen, a thorough evaluation must be made to look for the cause.

Most young adults who receive the diagnosis of "hypoglycemia" are not truly hypoglycemic. They don't have serious symptoms of a true low blood sugar such as loss of consciousness or seizure and do not have an abnormally low blood sugar if their blood is drawn during symptoms and properly processed.

What they do have is some of the mild, annoying, but not dangerous warning symptoms of a dropping blood sugar (nervousness, hunger, trembling). The symptoms are caused by the production of hormones to prevent the blood sugar from going dangerously low. These symptoms may occur if they go a long time without eating or if they eat foods high in concentrated sugar. These annoying, but nor serious symptoms can usually be avoided by eating frequent, low sugar, high protein foods.

I suggest you discuss with your daughter's physician what the tests actually showed, and what the recommendations are for further evaluation (if needed) and treatment.


Original posting 6 May 97


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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