I am a very excited woman this week as (in no particular order of preference) Game of Thrones welcomed itself back into my life last night, one of my best friends Steph asked me to be one of her Bridesmaids and my boyfriend, Bobby, and I booked a holiday to Malta in September! So many lovely things to look forward to!
I thought that this week I would tackle the subject of hypoglycemia or hypos, which is what they are often known as.
Hypos happen when your blood sugar falls below 4.0mmols. Some people start feeling hypo symptoms before their blood drops below 4.0mmols. Some people who are not diabetic also suffer from hypoglycemia. In terms of Diabetes, having low blood sugar levels are not something that people naturally associate with being diabetic. Everyone always thinks of Diabetes as “people with high blood sugar”. However, this is not the case.
There are many reasons for why diabetics could experience a hypo.
- Over-injecting insulin.
- Drinking alcohol.
- A delayed meal or missing a snack.
Sometimes hypos can occur for no obvious cause, which evidently can be very frustrating.
As a Type 1 diabetic of 10 and a half years, I am pretty in tune with my body and I know how my body reacts to certain situations and I can usually prevent hypos very well. Which I am very grateful for. It’s all about using your common sense.
If I was going on a night out, or knew that I would be drinking a lot, I always follow the same steps when I get home. I make sure I eat something (and don’t over inject for it, if anything, I would inject less) and have lots of water. The thing with alcohol is, that the sugar in the alcohol raises your blood sugar and the alcohol itself brings it down. Everyone is different, but I personally do not inject for alcohol. I would not want it to cause me to experience a severe hypo. Not injecting for alcohol works for me and my body, it might not work for everyone, so it’s important that you find your own way to cope with it.
Exercise can be a bit of a tricky one too. For me, I find that walking tends to really drag my blood sugar down. I also attend the gym frequently and I dance too. Whenever I know that I am going to be indulging in exercise I always make sure that I have eaten something first AND I always carry dextrose tablets and a small snack for after exercise just in case. Dextrose tablets are great to carry on your person or to pop in your bag. They really help to bring your blood sugar levels back up quickly as they are a fast acting carbohydrate and you can follow it up with a slow acting carbohydrate if necessary.
I had an email a few weeks ago from Ned who I met at The Big Conversation. He asked me about how heat affects my blood sugar. For his son the heat was seeming to increase his blood sugar levels and he had been struggling with that. At the end of the day, every diabetic is different. For me, heat makes my blood sugar drop. I can feel it especially when I am on holiday abroad and lounging by the pool. A small snack or sugary drink tends to help with this.
For people who are not particularly associated with hypos it can be difficult for them to spot when someone else is experiencing one. I do have to point out, my boyfriend, Bobby, is amazing at spotting these things. I always catch my hypos myself anyway because I am very lucky to have a great hypo awareness. However, he always knows when my blood sugar is too low and knows how to help in any way if necessary. He is brilliant. Thanks Bobby!
The symptoms for hypos can vary dramatically. Here are some common symptoms:
- Mood change.
- Blurred vision.
- Lack of concentration.
- Looking very pale/distant.
Sometimes people who are experiencing hypos can be misconstrued as drunk. For me, I always shake and begin to sweat profusely. I also become rather weak and distant. When I was younger I used to become rather short and abrupt, which I seem to have grown out of now. Which shows that your symptoms can always be changing. So keep an eye out and be aware!
When I did the DAFNE course 5-6 years ago I met a man on the course, who at that point had been living with Diabetes for over 40 years. He had absolutely no hypo awareness at all. His wife could always spot when he was having a hypo. The way technology has advanced now gives diabetics a better opportunity to be able to keep their hypo awareness.
It is very important that you don’t run your blood sugar levels slightly higher to avoid hypos because in the long term this could be potentially very damaging and cause future complications.
Luckily, I have never before experienced a severe hypo where I have become unconscious or have needed assistance from another person. If you ever come across someone who is experiencing a severe hypo I would recommend calling an ambulance immediately. Make sure the individual is in the recovery position, just to be on the safe side. If you are unsure as to whether someone is having a severe hypo or not, sometimes they will have some form of medical card or medical bracelet which informs you that they are Diabetic.
They may look a bit like this:
I don’t have a medical bracelet as personally, I don’t like the look of them. I would much rather just carry my medical card in my purse. Everyone has a different choice for what they would like to have, so it’s good that there are different options to cater for individuals.
One last thing that I would like to point out. If you are diabetic, DO NOT EVER be afraid about telling a new employer or new people that you have Diabetes. It is imperative that people around you are aware. If something happened to you, they need to know what the cause could be. It is so important.
On that note, keep looking after yourself and help anyone around you if you spot any hypo symptoms!