Prevent hypoglycemia when you have diabetes
One of the dangers of having diabetes is experiencing a low blood sugar or hypoglycemic episode. People can feel a reaction at different blood sugar levels but a reading under 70 mg is generally considered low. About 30% of people with type 1 diabetes (they require insulin daily) will have between one and three hypoglycemic episodes each year. Low blood sugar rates are lower for people with type 2 diabetes, but it is more common in older folks with type 2 who may not feel a hypoglycemic reaction beginning.
There are many hypoglycemia reactions, but these are the most common. If you or a family member have diabetes be on the alert to these symptoms:
- Sweating or chills
- Irritable or confused
- Blurred vision
- Lack of coordination
The reasons for hypoglycemia are varied and can include:
- Having more activity than usual
- Cutting out carbohydrate-containing foods for one reason or another
- Taking more diabetes medication or a higher dose, and not adjusting food intake
Having hypoglycemia reactions is not normal and can be very dangerous, even causing death. It takes an emotional toll, as well as leaving the person exhausted.
It is important to assess and follow through with the basics to prevent a hypoglycemia reaction:
- Eat meals and snacks at regular times with a consistent amount of carbohydrate.
- Keep a carbohydrate beverage, or glucose tablets with you at all times so that if you feel a low blood sugar reaction coming on you can quickly eat or drink something. Good examples of 15 g carb: ½ cup fruit juice or regular soda; 1 cup sports drink, 1 tbsp. honey or sugar.
- Wear your medical alert bracelet or necklace at all times so that if you become confused or disoriented medical personnel some idea of what might be wrong.
Your doctor or health care professional will want to know about any hypoglycemic reactions so be sure to let them know when, where and how a hypoglycemic reaction.
Recipes to try:
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.