Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are both growing problems. Statistics show that rates of both conditions are increasing significantly, with roughly 1 out of every 11 people in the United States now having some form of diabetes.
For this reason, I have decided to carry glucose tablets with me everywhere I go. I do this because the chance of having hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) myself or seeing another person with it is so high.
Because we have diabetes, everyone around us needs to know how to recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar. Today there is a simple way to increase your own hypoglycemia awareness and to help others become more skilled at identifying the condition as well.
It is available from the British Diabetes.co.uk website, and it is called the Hypo Awareness Program. To start the free program, visit the official website.
This program is exciting because taking a simple class like this one can improve awareness of low blood sugar and reduce complications from it.
The problem of not recognizing a dangerous dip in your blood sugar often develops after living for many years with diabetes. But anyone with diabetes can develop hypoglycemia unawareness.
What is worse, the more often low blood sugar episodes happen, the more likely you are to develop hypoglycemia unawareness. You also need to know that illness, depression, alcohol, and stress can increase the risk of developing low blood sugar.
Hypoglycemia can occur at night without waking you up. Additionally, some medicines can mask the symptoms of low blood sugar, such as beta-blockers for high blood pressure.
Becoming more hypoglycemia aware
Taking a class like the Hypo Awareness Program has been shown to improve awareness of low blood sugar. It reduces your chances of having hypoglycemia by teaching you how to avoid it and how to identify the symptoms so you can treat low blood sugar early.
There are other things you can do as well. My doctor’s decision to raise my baseline blood sugar target has helped to reduce hypoglycemia at night.
The fewer low blood sugar episodes we have, the more sensitive we become to them. This adjustment has helped many older diabetes patients to improve their hypoglycemia awareness.
It is also a good idea to test blood sugar levels more often. You get better control and catch dips in blood sugar quickly. It also helps you identify what triggers your low blood sugars so you can prevent them.
You can improve hypoglycemia awareness by simply thinking about it more often. As Diabetes.co.uk notes, you should not dismiss the symptoms with thoughts like “I’m just tired” or “I’m having a bad day.”
Remind yourself of your red flags for low blood sugar. Everyone is different, but here are some common ones:
• Feeling tired or weak
• Grouchy mood, getting irritated easily
If you have hypoglycemia unawareness
One of the problems with catching hypoglycemia is that you may deny or ignore the symptoms. That is why it is a good idea to get family and friends involved. Tell them that if they see your mood change, or if you are acting irritated or tired, they can suggest you check your blood sugar.
Teach them the symptoms of low blood sugar. Give them permission to tell you when they think it may be happening. Show them what to do for it. Keep glucose tablets handy.
Tell them about juice and honey and where you keep your glucose tablets. And always wear your diabetes medical alert identification.
Know the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia so you can get help fast if you see them in someone else. Those signs include:
• Fuzzy thinking
• Inability to communicate clearly
• Acting intoxicated
• Sudden crying or aggression
• Seizure or loss of consciousness
If you are alert to the signs of hypoglycemia, you may rescue another person with diabetes. You know how quickly a hypoglycemic attack can turn serious. Valuable time is often lost when people misinterpret what they see. The person can seem like he is drunk or on drugs.
Because you have diabetes, you know what to do. You will look for medical alert identification. You will have glucose tablets or some other sweet on hand. You will know what to say when you call for help.
Raise your hypoglycemia awareness, and encourage the same in those around you. It could save a life.
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Source URL: https://dsm.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/hypoglycemia-awareness/
Martha Zimmer: Martha Zimmer is a 64-year-old grandmother who has had Type 2 diabetes for the past 14 years. She grew from complete ignorance of diabetes to owning a flourishing diabetes website with thousands of new readers every month. Her passion is to help others with Type 2 diabetes by sharing her mistakes and the things she has learned from them. Meet her at www.a-diabetic-life.com. (Martha Zimmer is not a medical professional.)
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