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Originally published Friday, August 21, 2009 at 6:20 PM

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Sounders FC's Freddie Ljungberg diagnosis: low blood sugar

Doctors believe hypoglycemia explains soccer star's memory loss, disorientation and migraine-like symptoms. Freddie Ljungberg could play Sunday in Houston.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

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TUKWILA — Sounders FC midfielder Freddie Ljungberg has been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, a condition that he said contributed to his feeling disoriented with memory loss last week.

The condition is manageable by eating the proper foods, in this case more carbohydrates, throughout the day, which was good news for Ljungberg and the team.

The Sounders FC star practiced Friday and could be ready to play half the game Sunday when Seattle takes on the Houston Dynamo in Houston.

"I found out why I get migraine-like symptoms. I'm hypoglycemic," Ljungberg said. "I can't eat too much sugar.

"What happened Friday was that we were traveling, and in Europe when we travel, we have our own chef at training so we eat all the time," Ljungberg said. "When you're hypoglycemic you need to eat all the time, good food. So what we did was I just went to the airport and got some bagels or something, not really helping me. So my body crashed."

Ljungberg explained that his body shut down, and his memory was first to go. He said he believes the condition has also triggered the migraine-like symptoms that have limited his ability to play in games and practice this season.

"Normally I've had one migraine in 18 months, and now I've had three in two months, so we had to find what was different," Ljungberg said. "That's what the doctors think, and hopefully we're on the right track and we can fix it."

Cheese and red wine are the biggest triggers of Ljungberg's migraines, but if he doesn't eat properly, he doesn't get the energy his body needs, which leads to those migraine symptoms he has felt this season.

Ljungberg admitted to being scared last week.

"It's a major relief," he said. "You can imagine yourself sitting in a hotel room and all of a sudden you don't know the numbers or the names on your phone or what anyone's name is. Of course I was scared. You think maybe like the worst thing, that there's a tumor in your head or something. But we did the MRIs and everything was clear ... it's a big relief and now we can fix it."

Long road trips in the U.S. have cut down on the number of times Ljungberg eats.

"There's no medication. There just has to be long-lasting carbs, not [expletive] food like sandwiches and stuff. It has to be proper food, like brown rice or brown spaghetti, whole grains or whatever," he said.

The seven- to 10-day protocol of rest on which doctors placed Ljungberg began Friday, Aug. 14, so Sunday will be nine days. Ljungberg hopes coach Sigi Schmid allows him to play 45 or 60 minutes in Houston.

"It takes the availability of food items, it also takes the responsibility to bring in the food items," Schmid said, "but I think we can manage it that way.

"We'll see how he feels," Schmid said of assessing Ljungberg today. "That'll make the determination of him traveling with us to Houston. And obviously if he travels with us, we expect him to play."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409

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