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Preparing for Hypoglycaemia

 by angela blair rn cde on 25 Jul 2017 |
1 Comment(s)
In my last post, I wrote about the symptoms and effects of hypoglycaemia. At the recent Diabetes NSW & ACT Live Your Life Expo at Rosehill I was asked about the best ways to prepare for the inevitable bout hypoglycaemia by one of our members Charlie. 
Charlie finds juice doesn’t work fast enough and he often eats extra carbs to try and bring his blood glucose up faster. He was wondering about the new products and how they work.
I asked Charlie some questions about his hypos such as did he feel any symptoms, was there a reason for his hypos, did he test his blood glucose level before treating and how often he experienced hypos. We then talked about some of the newer treatments available.

The symptoms of hypos occur because the brain doesn’t have a supply of glucose, causing the release of stress hormones (adrenalin and cortisone). These hormones are responsible for the initial symptoms you may experience. The liver then responds by releasing stored glucose, through the production of glucagon in the pancreas.  It is important to be aware that too many hypos can lead to hypo unawareness, where the action of stress hormones is reduced. Excessive alcohol intake can also mask hypoglycaemia. Charlie still feels the symptoms, but often doesn’t test to see how low his blood glucose levels are. He decided he would begin to test his blood glucose when experiencing the symptoms of a hypo, as this would give him some additional information about how low his BGL is when he experiences symptoms. We also explored some of the reasons for Charlie’s hypos. The main reason was that he was consuming fewer carbs during the day. As this was something new, he is going to discuss this with his doctor making and may make some changes to his insulin on the days he knows he will be eatingless carbs. Remember always talk to your doctor before making any adjustment to your insulin therapy.

On the types of treatment for a hypo, I reminded him prevention was still the best way to manage hypos and believe changing his insulin to match his carbs was the best start.

For Charlie, juice was often not quick enough acting to offset the symptoms of a hypo. Products such as the True Plus range that includes a  drink (60mls), gel or tablets have the benefit of a reliable dose that starts working faster. I reminded Charlie to test if possible, treat and wait 10 minutes. If the symptoms persist re-test and retreat. Once the blood glucose level is back in the target range,  follow with a serve of carbs (15
grams) such as a slice of bread or a price of fruit. Or a meal if it is time. The additional benefit of
hypo products are their long expiry date and other people usually leave it alone but will often sneak the hypo lollies or drinks. I also suggested to Charlie that he could keep these in the car and at work.

Hypo Treatments
From $4.95
About the Author
Angela Blair
I am a credentialled diabetes educator through the Australian Diabetes Educators Association and have worked in diabetes care and management since 1979 in a number of clinical and management roles.

My professional qualifications are NSW registered nurse/midwife with a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Newcastle (1993), and a Masters in Applied Management (Health) through the University of Newcastle.


Yvonne Hudacek - Comment
Yvonne Hudacek31 Aug 2017Reply
I understand the problem of hypos well and, even in medical environments, there is little understanding there. I have written at length about his problem, and hope to be published soon. One can take all measures to protect oneself, but of little use when unawareness takes place, or it appears that one is 'sleeping' too long. I recommend the glucose products available, when the individual is aware that a hypo is taking place.

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