Hypoglycemia memory loss, brain damage, and dementia

The word forget carved in a stone bench.
Photo from Flickr: Key Foster

When I tell people I’m hypoglycemic, one of the first questions they ask is how will they know if my blood sugar is low. One of my telltale signs is that I’m VERY forgetful. Seriously, I forgot to close my car door once when walking into a mall. HOW THE HELL DO YOU FORGET TO DO THAT???  Luckily, someone stopped me and pointed it out.

Memory loss is a symptom for most hypoglycemics, I jokingly call it my “hypo brain,” but it’s actually very serious. I forget people’s names that I darn well know, I forget to do things, I forget….well, I forget. And it’s not because I’m a natural blonde.

As with most things, scientific studies on the subject change all the time as researchers prove and then disprove their studies, but here’s what we know:

  • Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar (duh)
  • Low blood sugar can cause dementia or “forgetfulness”
  • The more often someone has an extreme hypoglycemic low blood sugar episode, the increased chances for dementia

Here’s where things get fuzzy:

  • I was told by a doctor when I was first diagnosed with hypoglycemia that a blood sugar below 30 will cause permanent brain damage. I’m not sure if this is still the rule or not.
  • There have been studies that have suggested that hypoglycemia, as well as diabetes high blood sugar episodes, can cause long-term brain damage and dementia.

Like I said, the last two points are still up in the air and I don’t have the time or access to research them fully, but the thought that low blood sugar levels MAY cause long-term dementia should be enough to scare you. If not that, think about what could happen to your house and family if you, for example, forget to turn a stove burner off in one of your hypoglycemic episodes.

So, take care of yourself, eat like and when you are supposed to, and don’t take the risk.

More research on the subject:

Dementia due to metabolic causes (U.S. Government website)

Types of dementia (Cleveland Clinic website)

 

 

Other valuable posts:

Outline of a Hypoglycemic Diet

Travel tips for hypoglycemics and healthy eaters

How I lost the weight (and keep it off)!

 

 

Up-to-date information on hypoglycemia

This blog reflects my journey of learning and understanding hypoglycemia. This means that some of my older posts may have information that is out-of-date as I’ve learned more or research has changed. For the most updated macro-level information on living with hypoglycemia, please visit Up-to-date info on hypoglycemia (start here) page.

If you’re curious if the information in a particular post is still accurate, please feel free to leave a comment on the post asking and I’ll respond letting you know if there is any updated information.

Thanks for reading!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Shaun says:

    I think your fairly safe on brain damage from hypos. I have had type 1 insulin dependant diabetes for 41 years and have had some hypos that would blow your hair off. Over the years the symptoms change from complete unconsciousness waking up in hospital with a dextrose drip to sweating headaches nausea to humble vision changes. I have had what you describe only once but it was very strange. I was so low and my partner of many years was shoveling chocolate biscuits into me and I remember looking at her and wondering who she was and until the sugar started working I couldnt remember her or even that I had diabetes or what a hypo was, it was strange as at the time I felt very conscious. Anyway know that I have starved my brain of sugar on many occassions and am yet to develop dementia.

  2. Tammy says:

    I have had many MANY hypoglycemic episodes over my 35yrs of T1, I’m 48 and I do have memory issues, not diagnosed but I do have them and almost positive it’s from T1 although I have trouble keeping my Vit D up which can also cause memory issues….

    1. Tammy says:

      I wear Dex a cgm but I’m low 30’s without Dex when I notice I’m having trouble forming sentences and I treat myself. I’ve been low as 7…… mid 30’s you would have know idea I was even low if we were talking…

  3. Dawn Beasley Flowers says:

    Thank you so much for this information. I’ve be called a blonde my whole life because of my forgetting things, alot. It’s been my hypoglycemia this whole time.

    1. hyporesource says:

      I’m so glad this information is helpful to you! I recommend logging when you “forget” things and what you ate before that to see if you can narrow-down why your blood sugar is dropping.

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