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Bittersweet Success

Science brain teasers require understanding of the physical or biological world and the laws that govern it.

 

Puzzle ID:#31199
Fun:*** (2.74)
Difficulty:** (1.6)
Category:Science
Submitted By:FreddyPharkasAen*****!
Corrected By:FreddyPharkas

 

 

 



Fred, a recently diagnosed diabetic, started to feel very dizzy and faint. "I don't know what to do," he slurred, "I've used my insulin like the doc said and I didn't eat anything since breakfast, never mind anything sweet." His friends couldn't agree what to do. Jim suggested giving sugar as he was sure he'd heard that before. Mike disagreed. He knew diabetes caused high blood sugar, so suggested giving Fred another shot of insulin. Who was correct?



Answer

Jim was correct, though he didn't know why. Fred was experiencing diabetic hypoglycemia (UK - hypoglycaemia), low blood sugar. The body releases insulin to store sugar as required but this doesn't happen in a patient such as Fred. He artificially introduced insulin when he hadn't even eaten, reducing his blood glucose to dangerously low levels. Giving glucose would be the fastest treatment, as it is quickly absorbed without digestion.

Fred needs to eat regular, balanced meals whilst using regular insulin to avoid this recurring. Mike's suggestion to give further insulin would have just made things worse, probably inducing coma (which would have made it impossible to give the glucose) and possibly leading to death.

As it mentions in the hint, if Fred hadn't been treated for diabetes his blood sugar would have been consistently high, so hypoglycemia would not happen.

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