One of the most important lessons for diabetics is about Hypoglycemia-how to recognize and manage low blood sugar.
Issues with fluctuating blood sugar (glucose) levels put you at risk for some serious complications. And, treating yourself or someone whose blood sugar is below normal could save a life.
For many diabetics, hypoglycemia means a glucose level of 70 or less on their meter. Even people who haven’t been diagnosed as being diabetic may get weak after exercise, or when they forget to eat.
But, even though their blood sugar is low, it’s not always true hypoglycemia.
Healthy people may suffer from an episode of low blood sugar, but when it happens to a diabetic, it becomes a very serious threat.
So learning about Hypoglycemia-how to recognize and manage low blood sugar, can save their life.
When the blood levels of Type 1 and Type 2 (Insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent, respectively) drop, the condition is called “Insulin Shock,” and it could be due to several reasons:
- You forgot to eat
- You ate too little
- You exercised too much
- You drank alcohol
- You did not manage your insulin
Almost always, it’s up to you. Here’s what to be mindful of:
Signs of Hypoglycemia
When there’s not enough glucose in the blood to be carried to the cells for energy, initially your body will tap the extra sugar stored in the liver (glycogen).
BUT, after that, the body starts to go through changes.
➡ It’s important to provide a fast response by learning about hypoglycemia-how to recognize and manage low blood sugar because:
The signs of hypoglycemia happen quickly.
They may include:
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sweating, chills, and clamminess
- Irritability or impatience
- Confusion, including delirium
- Rapid/fast heartbeat
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Hunger and nausea
- Blurred/impaired vision
- Tingling or numbness in the lips or tongue
- Weakness or fatigue
- Anger, stubbornness, or sadness
- Lack of coordination
- Nightmares or crying out during sleep
What to do:
- At the first sign of hypoglycemia, get some source of sugar into your body.
Diabetics are instructed to always carry candy, glucose tablets or a convenient source of carbohydrates with them to replenish their glucose (sugar) levels when needed.
Important: These episodes are more prevalent before bed or upon waking up, so keeping some form of sugar on your nightstand is a good idea.
1. Take in 15-20 grams of glucose or simple carbohydrates
2. Recheck your blood glucose after 15 minutes
3. If your blood sugar is still below 70, repeat.
4. Once blood glucose returns to normal, eat a small snack if your next planned meal or snack is more than an hour or two away.
•glucose tablets (follow package instructions)
• gel tube (follow package instructions)
• 2 tablespoons of raisins
• 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of juice or regular soda (not diet)
• 1 tablespoon sugar, honey, or corn syrup
• 8 ounces of nonfat or 1% milk
• hard candies, jellybeans, or gumdrops (see the package to determine how many equals 15 grams)
The brain is one of the organs that rely heavily on normal levels of blood glucose. When the levels get low, the brain has a hard time functioning normally.
Prolonged, severe low levels of blood glucose can lead to:
- Feeling weak
- Becoming combative
- Diabetic coma
In this hypoglycemic state, people will feel as if they don’t have the energy to move, and that, if they could move, they wouldn’t know in which direction to go…
If you see a diabetic person experiencing these signs, they need sugar right away and medical attention.
Longtime diabetics have a harder time recognizing a hypoglycemic episode.
➡ They’ve gotten used to feeling a certain way and don’t always pay attention to the symptoms. But, it can also happen to diabetics who just haven’t been taught what to look for…that’s why information is so crucial.
As a diabetic, it’s important to take responsibility for learning about hypoglycemia-how to recognize and manage low blood sugar.
Even if your diagnosis came many years ago, there’s still a lot you can learn.
New sources of information and research studies are showing up every day. And…knowledge is power when it comes to maintaining your health.