What Is Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is a condition of low blood glucose level. This can happen even when you are doing all you can to manage your diabetes well. It is important to be familiar with the signs of hypoglycemia to be able to prevent it and know what to do when it occurs. Left untreated, hypoglycemia can cause you to pass out and require emergency treatment to restore blood glucose to normal levels.
What are the signs of hypoglycemia? Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, sweating, dizziness, hunger, difficulty paying attention, sudden mood changes, seizure and many more. The most important thing is catching these symptoms and treating hypoglycemia right away. This is where constant and regular checking of blood glucose is very important. It will not only help you with decisions regarding insulin therapy but most importantly, alert you to sudden spikes in blood glucose levels.
Treating hypoglycemia is very easy especially when it is caught early on. You need to raise blood glucose right away to counter hypoglycemia. You can take glucose tablets which are widely available in drug stores and require no prescription. You can also take other forms of simple sugar or carbohydrates. Make sure you eat 15 grams of food or drink composed mainly of simple sugar or carbohydrates. Example of foods like these include ½ cup of juice or soda, 4 teaspoons of table sugar, 1 tablespoon of honey and 4 to 5 pcs of crackers. You can ask your dietician for food choices and portions that will treat hypoglycemia. You need to check blood glucose level after 15 or 20 minutes of eating. If it is not in the level that is targeted for you, repeat the treatment. When the symptoms of hypoglycemia subside, make sure you follow your regular meals and snacks to avoid another episode.
As mentioned earlier, an untreated hypoglycemia could make you pass out and this might be life-threatening when you are driving for example. A person who has passed-out from hypoglycemia might require a shot of glucagon and emergency care. Glucagon is a hormone, like insulin, and is injected to raise blood glucose immediately. Glucagon is in fact one of the required items in a diabetic’s emergency kit. You also need to tell people you spend most time with about using glucagon on you in case you need it. They also needed to be educated as to the do’s and don’ts during a hypoglycemic episode. You also need to have diabetic identification in case you encounter hypoglycemic episodes in unfamiliar surroundings, like during travels.
There are a lot of diabetics who are unaware when they are experiencing or about to experience a hypoglycemic episode. This is called hypoglycemia unawareness. One way of mitigating this is to have more frequent blood glucose checks especially before driving. Another way is to find cues or indications of hypoglycemia from previous hypoglycemic episodes. These should be done with the help of doctors or qualified health care professionals.