We hear a lot about the need for diabetics to lower their blood sugar levels and maintain those levels within certain ranges. And, while high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) does present diabetics with problems that must be addressed long-term, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is an occasional problem for many diabetics.
Our bodies need a certain amount of sugar for normal processes to take place. You may not notice any symptoms until your blood sugar is already dangerously low. Perhaps the most noticeable effect of low blood sugar is impaired brain function.
Low blood sugar affects many Type 1 diabetics when they havent closely monitored their blood sugar and made adjustments to their Insulin dosage. Their thinking and judgment, movement, and speech become impaired.
Type 2 diabetics can also be affected by low blood sugar and should also monitor their blood sugar levels. Its critical for most Type 1 to do so, more closely.
Often mistaken for being drunk, appropriate treatment can be delayed. However, with timely and proper treatment, a full recovery can usually be expected.
Its critical that Type 1 diabetics monitor blood sugar levels before exercise or meals. Depending on the activity planned, or the specific meal, adjustments in Insulin dosage may be called for. Likewise, blood sugar levels should be used as a guide for whether to snack or not before bed.
Check with your pharmacist when taking medications for non-diabetes related conditions. Ask if the particular drugs cause hypoglycemia. You may need to call your doctor to make adjustments in your Insulin while youre on the other medication, or there may be an alternative that would be more compatible with diabetes.
Its beyond the scope of this email to provide extensive treatment guidance (your health care team should be closely involved with you on that). Strictly for informational purposes, treating low blood sugar involves quickly consuming carbohydrates, if youre conscious enough to safely swallow food or drink.
This could come in the form of sugar cubes, orange juice, a sweetened soft drink, milk. Youre looking for pure glucose or sugar.
You could also take glucose tablets to raise your blood sugar level.
If youre not able to safely swallow food or drink, someone could inject you with Glucagon to raise you blood sugar. Ask your doctor for a prescription for this kit so it will be on hand if its ever needed.
You may never have an issue with low blood sugar, but you should be aware of this possibility and be prepared to quickly take action if and when this does become a problem for you.