Hypoglycaemia, short name “hypo”, is an emergency situation that requires a proper treatment.
All people with diabetes fear to have hypoglycaemia due to its severe symptoms.
Hypos happen when the blood glucose levels are below 4.0mmol/L. This can happen for several reasons, for example: excess of insulin, unplanned exercise, alcohol intake, etc.
Here is the “ultimate guide to deal with hypoglycaemia” to get you prepared, confident and fearless.
Know your symptoms
It’s very important that you recognise your symptoms so you can know that a hypo is definitely coming and you can act on it.
Most common symptoms are sweat, blurry vision, hunger, weakness, mood change and anxiety. But these symptoms can be different from person to person.
Keep others informed
Make sure that your closest friends, family and colleagues know what it is and what to do to help you.
As you know, there are different types of hypos and some of these need help of a third party.
It’s very important that you share your most common symptoms so you feel secure and safe by having someone ready to help.
Check your blood glucose
Always try to confirm your hypo by checking your blood glucose.
Sometimes you are feeling “funny” but maybe is not a hypo. Other times you think it’s not a hypo but in fact it is.
Never underestimate your feelings.
Make sure you check your blood glucose along the hypo treatment so you can understand in which stage you are. Allow 15-20mins after your first sugar dose to check your blood glucose.
Sugar: your best hypo buddy
A fast acting sugar is the best treatment for your first hypo treatment phase.
You’ll need at least 15g-20g of sugar to bring your blood glucose level up.
Examples are glucotabs (4-5 tabs), one glass of orange juice, one glass of non-diet fizzy drinks or one glass of regular Lucozade (100ml).
It’s really important that you take these quantities. It has the goal to increase the blood glucose levels up to 2-3mmol/L, and this is only what you really need. Taking too much quick acting sugar will rise your sugar very high which is not what is expected. Doing so will put you struggling again to control the glucose levels but this time dealing witb hypers.
Don’t treat your hypos with chocolate
No chocolate. Apart from containing sugar, chocolate also contains high levels of fat.
This fat will be responsible to delay the absorption of the sugar part into the blood stream meaning that it will delay the treatment of the hypo and your brain and remain organs will be suffering longer.
Using chocolate to treat a hypo can be working for you so far (I have heard my patients’ own experiences and different hypo treatments) but the key think to retain here is that in case of a more difficult hypo, delaying the treatment with non-fast acting sugar can bring bad consequences.
Have a snack right after the storm
This is the second phase of your hypo treatment.
After making sure that the blood glucose is higher than 4.0mmol/L, make sure you have a snack with long acting carbs, such as sandwich, biscuits and fruit/toast or even a proper meal (if it is due).
Do not forget that sugar taken in the first phase of the treatment will last in your body for about 30 min. and the blood glucose will drop again if you do not eat a long acting sugar (as the examples above) after.
Be safe! Keep quick acting sugar by your bed
Some hypos occur at night time while sleeping.
It is very important to keep some fast-acting sugar near your bed so you don’t need to move or walk around the house while you are having symptoms.
This way, you keep yourself safe by avoid falls and hurting yourself. You will be able to go to the kitchen and get something else to eat after your symptoms are recovered by the sugar.
Think about why
I would recommend you to think about the reasons of the hypo so you can do things differently in the future.
Talk with your Specialist Team
Talking with your medical team will be always a very important thing to do.
Hypos are always a good event to think about your routines and understanding if your diabetes medication regimen is adequate for you or it needs update/change.
Keep your supplies up-to-date and
Make sure that you have enough hypo treatments at home, in your bag, at your office desk and in your car.
Have a look at the expire dates and replace them if need from time to time.
Do not keep items due to expire soon or replace them straight away – life is busy and there is a high chance that you will forget to replace this item when it is expiring.
Even with people very well controlled and don’t experience hypos for a long period of time, hypos can occur suddenly. So it is very important that everyone is ready to act whilst a hypo.
Will you be more hypo prepare now?