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Date of last update: 10/17/2017.

Forum Name: Diabetes

Question: Possible Hypoglycemia - should I be concerned?

 Linz - Sat Apr 28, 2007 12:27 am

I am a 22-year old female, 5'3, 129lbs. Over the years, I have had constant issues with fatigue, migraines, just generally feeling unwell, amongst other things. A few years ago, my doctor ran a blood test on me and my glucose level came back at 1.2mmol/L. I believe this would have been a random sample as I had only eaten a few hours before. He said I appeared to be a 'little hypoglycemic' but didn't ever say much about it. From looking into hypoglycemia myself and even consulting a few diabetic friends that I have, it would seem that for me to have a level of 1.2, I should have been unconscious. A few years later now, I am still living and breathing, still experiencing the same symptoms but I have never followed up on it. I know when I need to eat because it hits me hard and I feel very disoriented. I also found out a few years ago that I am severely anemic with my iron level staying at around a 6. Is this something I should be more concerned about?
 Marceline F, RN - Sat Apr 28, 2007 2:48 am

User avatar Dear Linz,
I would be interested in seeing the original lab results your MD was relaying to you. As you have researched for yourself, a true 1.2 mmol/L blood glucose level (which translates into about a 21 blood glucose level when measuring mg/dl - typical US measurements) is certainly more than "slightly" hypoglycemic and is in fact alarmingly low. I wonder if he either mis-spoke the level to you or something like that. The world standard of measurement is different from the traditional US one, and it would help to be clear which standard he was referring to and clarify the test results.
Also, I am not clear about your reference to being anemic while referring to an iron level of 6. The standard iron level for females is between 65 and 165. It seems odd that you would have an iron level as low as 6. However, a hemoglobin of 6 is indeed very low, but can occur in severe anemia, or traumatic blood loss. This level also needs to be clarified for us to help your understanding.
If your doctor's intention was for you to increase your iron uptake from a nutritional standpoint, you can do so by improving your iron-rich intake of meats (especially organ meats); poultry (especially dark meat); fish - especially shellfish and sardines and anchovies; leafy greens of the cabbage family, such as broccoli, kale , turnip greens, etc; legumes - such as limas green peas, dry beans and even canned baked beans; yeast -leavened whole wheat breads; and iron enriched breads, pasta, rice and cereals.
I would be very concerned if you have a hemoglobin of 6. That is about half the "normal" level for an adult female.
Severe hypoglycemia and severe anemia can each contribute to your overall feelings of malaise. It would be of value for you to have additional tests run to verify the results you were given, such as a BMP (basic metabolic profile) and CBC (complete blood count), and a Hgb A1c (hemoglobin A1c - a way of seeing what your blood sugar has been over about a 3 month span of time.)
 Linz - Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:56 am

Sorry, I should clarify that I live in Canada so we more than likely use a different measurement. I actually saw the test results as they were read to me and my blood glucose did read 1.2 mmol/L as I was curious and wanted to see for myself. My diabetic friends say that I should be at around a 5 or a 6 on a glucometer to be healthy.
The same goes for the iron results on the blood tests. Perhaps I am mistaken and it is the hemoglobin that is low. I was just told that my iron is really low but I know iron and hemoglobin are closely involved. I have had a series of blood tests run for the anemia because I was put on iron supplements and my doctor was trying to increase it. Even with iron supplements it only goes up to around 21 after three months. It doesn't help that I am a vegetarian but I was actually first diagnosed with the anemia prior to becoming a vegetarian. The possible anemia first came to my attention when I went to donate blood and they wouldn't accept me. They require a person's blood iron to be at a minimum of 25. I'm not sure what unit of measurement this is in. I currently take 600mg of Palafer/day. It's funny because I knew my iron had to be really low when my doctor saw my blood results and said that she was surprised I was functioning. Perhaps I will try and get a copy of those blood tests for review.
 Marceline F, RN - Sat Apr 28, 2007 6:38 pm

User avatar Dear Linz,
Thank you for the clarifications. Yes, using the mmol/L scales, your friends are right that 5 or 6 is a healthier level for your blood sugar. The study of nutrition can be very complicated especially when coupled with lifestyles such as vegetarianism. Has your doctor checked your B-12 and folate levels? How is your intake of Vitamin C? Are you vegan, or vegetarian? Are you consuming large quantities of milk (if you are ovo-lacto-vegetarian) to provide proteins (which can adversely affect your iron stores)? Have you had your protein, albumin, pre-albumin, transferrin levels and other items checked by an endocrinologist or even an RD (registered dietition)?. Due to the multiple concerns you have, and the current threat to your health between hypoglycemia and iron-deficient anemia, I strongly encourage you to seek input from these specialists. There may be some commonality to both disorders found in the kinds of foods you choose to eat, as well as an underlying pathology.

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