Hypoglycemia is a condition where a person’s blood sugar levels drop below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 3.9 millimoles per litre (mmol/L). In people with diabetes and on insulin, this condition is a result of a sharp drop in the level of sugar (glucose) coupled with a large amount of insulin in their blood.
While anyone can suffer from this condition, it is an especially common occurrence in people with Type 2 diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes)* Here are some tips on how you can prevent the onset of this condition especially if you take insulin.
Keep track of your blood glucose levels
Experts suggest that knowing what your blood sugar level is at any given time can help you decide what type of food to eat, how much to exercise, and most importantly, how much insulin to take. To check your blood glucose levels, use a blood glucose meter as often as your physician advises.
Learn about the condition
As per the United States National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), many people with diabetes who are insulin-dependent are hypoglycemia-unaware. This is where a person may suffer from the condition but may not recognize its symptoms or its onset. Therefore, it is recommended that you read up thoroughly on the condition, and monitor your blood sugar levels regularly.
Use Continuous Glucose Monitoring
Experts suggest that people with diabetes who are not aware of the symptoms of hypoglycemia, or those who fail to recognize its onset, should use Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) as a tool to check their blood sugar levels at regular intervals throughout the day and night. The CGM system is equipped with an alarm that alerts you when your blood glucose levels drop drastically, a feature that is especially important if you suffer from an episode of hypoglycemia while you are asleep.
Eating the right food at regular intervals is essential to keeping your blood sugar levels from plummeting and leading to hypoglycemia. Another good tip: try and avoid alcohol as much as possible as it dehydrates your system. But if you must, then eat some healthy snacks along with your drink to prevent low blood sugar.
Exercising can help lower your blood sugar levels significantly during and for hours after the activity. This means that you should check your blood sugar levels before, during, and after your workout. While working out will also require you to eat a snack before you start, and maybe decrease your insulin dose but remember do only as directed by your physician.
Carry a glucagon emergency kit
If you are someone who suffers from hypoglycemia often, it is advisable to discuss the condition with your healthcare provider, who may suggest ways to manage your blood sugar better. They may also give you a glucagon kit for emergencies. Glucagon is a hormone that is administered via an injection and is extremely effective in raising one’s blood glucose levels.
- Hypoglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes, Pathophysiology, frequency, and effects of different treatment modalities, Nicola N. Zammitt, MRCP and Brian M. Frier, MD