Diabetic Hypoglycemia: What the Patient and Relatives Should Know
Diabetic hypoglycemia occurs when there is too much insulin but too low blood sugar in diabetic patients. Someone is said to have hypoglycemia when the blood sugar is lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). As widely know, high blood sugar is the main cause of diabetes. However, too low blood sugar is also dangerous for diabetic patients.
Several factors can contribute to the diabetic hypoglycemia. They include taking too much insulin, drug reactions of diabetes medications, too vigorous exercises, skipping meal, and other causes. Symptoms of hypoglycemia need to be closely monitored. When left untreated, the patients may lead to medical emergency like loss of consciousness and seizures.
Diabetic Hypoglycemia: Symptoms and Diagnosis
Warning signs of hypoglycemia in diabetic individuals may be seen anytime. The patients and relatives need to pay attention to early warning signs such as shakiness, sweating, irritability, dizziness, hunger, anxiety, nervousness, and headache. In addition, the symptoms may occur during the nighttime. Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia can make the patients awaken with the following symptoms:
- Excessive perspiration which leads to damp bedclothes or damp bed sheets
- Confusion upon waking, followed by tiredness and irritability
Make sure to pay attention to the warning signs and take necessary steps to control the blood sugar. Otherwise, severe signs and symptoms may occur. They include:
- Seizures and convulsion
- Loss of consciousness
- Weak muscles
- Jerky movements or shakiness
- Pale skin
- Sweating and trembling
- Difficulty speaking
- Blurred vision
Symptoms of diabetic hypoglycemia must be taken seriously. They can increase the risk of accidents and even death. They can vary from person to another. Even in one person, the symptoms may vary from one time to another. Therefore, the patients and the relatives need to watch for the signs regularly to avoid unnecessary things.
Diabetic Hypoglycemia: What Patients and Relatives Need to Do
As mentioned above, both the patients and the relatives need to monitor the warning signs of diabetic hypoglycemia closely. Therefore, make sure to understand the symptoms and what to in case that warning signs of hypoglycemia are identified.
What the Relatives Need To Do
If you find that someone with diabetes in your family shows warning signs of hypoglycemia, make sure to do the following:
- Try to give fluids or foods, but avoid food and fluids that can cause choking
- If the patient is unconscious, turn his/her body up and try to give some fluids orally
- Ask the diabetic person to tell any unusual signs
- Call the doctor if the patient shows severe symptoms of hypoglycemia
What the Patients Need To Do
If you are diabetic and finding the signs of hypoglycemia, make sure to do the following things:
- Tell someone you trust, like a family member, about the symptoms
- If you can walk normally, take some sweet drinks, like fruit juice with additional sugar
- If you had the episode previously, make sure to always prepare sweet drinks or high-carbohydrate foods on the reach of your hand. Examples of food to prepare include 5 to 6 pieces of sweet candy, fruit juice, sugar, jelly, or honey, glucose tablets, or glucose gel.
- If you have several episodes a week, tell your family member and see your doctor. You may need to change medication, dosage, or different meal plan.
Diabetic Hypoglycemia: Treatment Options
Treatment for diabetic hypoglycemia involves short-term solutions. Short-term solutions are discussed above. They include taking sweet foods and drinks or foods with high-carb contents. High-fat foods do not help much in this case. Then, check your blood sugar 15-20 minutes after taking the foods and drink. If your blood sugar is still too low, it is the time to see your doctor.
The doctor will usually prescribe a glucagon injection. The hormone works to stimulate release of sugar into the blood. If glucagon injection does not work or is not on hand, the patient may need emergency care. In addition, the patients and the relatives need to take several steps to prevent hypoglycemia. They include:
- Follow your meal plan. Never skip a meal, and avoid taking meal later than usual. Make sure to take three meals a day with even intervals. Irregular meals can lead to the signs of hypoglycemia.
- Each meal should not be apart for more than 4 hours. Alternatively, you can take some snacks between the meals.
- Discuss with your doctor on the type of exercise that fits your condition, including the changes in the physical activity plan.
- Check your blood sugar regularly
- Take only low to moderate level of alcohol
Again, the patients and the relatives need to be always alert on any changes that may indicate diabetic hypoglycemia. Monitoring the blood sugar regularly can help identify the symptoms earlier.
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