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Frequently Asked Questions About Insulin Resistance, Insulin and Diabetes

What are normal blood sugar levels?
Normal blood sugar levels range between 80 and 120 mg/dl after fasting.

My insulin dependent child is acting strangely. How do I know if she's just cranky or if her blood sugars are low?
Different people exhibit different symptoms in response to low blood sugar levels. Although irritability may be a symptom, your child may just be tired. The only way to know for sure is to test her blood sugar levels.

What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body is unable to effectively use available insulin. Resistance may be due to poor or insufficient receptors on cells and prohibits insulin from being used properly.

What are common hypoglycemia symptoms? How will I know if I am"going low"?
Symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) include shakiness, dizziness, nervousness, sweating, irritability and heart pounding. Hypoglycemia symptoms can occur suddenly. If you have taken more insulin than a meal required or participated in strenuous exercise, your blood sugar may have dropped too low. If you are experiencing any of the hypoglycemia symptoms, test yourself and treat low blood sugar immediately.

What is glycogen?
Glycogen is glucose that has been changed by the body into a form that can be easily stored by the liver. When you eat, your body doesn't immediately need all of the glucose from your food. Some of the excess sugar is turned into the storage form of glucose called glycogen.

Won't glycogen protect me from going too low?
The body is able to sense low blood sugar and signal for the release of glucose that has been stored as glycogen in the liver. When glycogen stores are sufficient, a rebound effect occurs. With frequent or severe low blood sugars there may be too little glycogen to return blood sugar levels to normal. Always test for suspected low blood sugar and treat if levels are below normal.

My doctor said I should always have glucagon on hand. Why?
Glucagon is another hormone produced by the pancreas. Unlike insulin, glucagon raises blood sugar levels by causing the release of glycogen from the liver. Glucagon's effect is almost instantaneous when injected into a person experiencing severe low blood sugar.


American Diabetes Association. (2000). Diabetes facts and figures. Retrieved March 18, 2002 from www.diabetes.org/ada/facts.asp

Beaser, R.S., & Hill, J. V. The Joslin Guide to Diabetes: A Program for Managing Your Treatment. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1995.
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