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From Memphis, Tennessee, USA:

My 12 year old son does not have diabetes, but I'm wondering if he may have hypoglycemia. He is a gifted athlete and used to have seemingly unending energy (gymnastics workout for four hours, then straight to soccer practice for two hours, then home to ride his scooter to a friend's to play basketball). For the past few months though, he's been having problems. I make sure he eats before he goes to gymnastics, but he seems to often get very tired and not have muscle strength. Last Saturday we went to a meet, after he'd had a good night's sleep and eaten a good meal. He walked into the gym saying he felt fine, felt confident. Then after warming up for awhile, he just fell apart. He became extremely tired, had no strength, was shaking when he was on the rings, and several times he actually fell off an apparatus. A year ago he was a state champion, now he can barely complete a routine. Is there a simple, easy way I can try to determine if he might have reactive hypoglycemia? If he does have it, what can we do about it? It seems like he should eat before he works out, yet perhaps that is causing his problems.


There is a form of hypoglycemia that may occur in young people in association with very vigorous exercise. It is not the same reactive hypoglycemia that you get after gastric surgery or sometimes in the very earliest stages of diabetes which are due to inappropriate insulin excretion.. It seems to be the result, amongst other factors, of a depletion of muscle glycogen.

So to begin with I would suggest he try to take 8 ounces of Gatorade at least every half hour during gymnastics or even more often adding to that if need be with a Power Bar every two hours. All this is in addition to the pre-exercise meal. If this doesn't work, then I think it would be time to see his pediatrician in part to try to exclude some totally different explanation and also to consider an extended glucose tolerance test which may help. Finally perhaps, you might want to learn to do blood sugars with a meter like the FreeStyle or One Touch® Ultra in order to be able to confirm the possibility of hypoglycemia.


Original posting 17 Apr 2002
Posted to Diagnosis and Symptoms


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:34
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