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How Treat Hypoglycemia in Diabetes

It's not unusual for a diabetic to suffer a 'hypo' attack. Occasional hypos are a normal part of life for people with diabetes, but they shouldn't take over your life. In normal terms there is no need to panic and the incident can be quickly treated.
Hypoglycemia (or a hypo) is a condition that happens when your blood glucose (sugar) falls below 4mmol/l. ( 75mg/dL) People may have different symptoms when a hypo is starting. They can affect everyone in a slightly different way. You too may also find that some of your hypos feel different from others.
A hypo can happen for a number of reasons:
If you've missed a meal or had one later than usual
If you've not eaten enough food or eaten less food than normal
If you've injected too much insulin or more tablets than necessary
If you've been more active than usual
If you've been drinking alcohol
If you've experienced extremes in temperature, either hot or cold
As soon as you feel as if you're going into a hypo, you should stop what you are doing and take some sugar (quick-acting carbohydrate), such as:
half a glass of sugary drink (not diet)

3 glucose tablets (available from the chemist or supermarket) Or some jelly babies
a digestive biscuit or light snack
If you start to feel better after 5 minutes or so, have some longer-acting carbohydrate such as a piece of toast, fruit, biscuits, a scone or a cereal bar. This will help to make sure that your blood glucose doesn't go down again. If you don't start to feel better after 5 minutes, take more sugar or quick acting carbohydrate. ay
If You Are Driving
If you feel a hypo coming on drive into a side-lane and take the necessary glucose to bring your blood sugar level back up. If you've had a hypo you should always wait about 45 minutes before driving off. Don't drive until your blood glucose is above 5 mmol/l. If you're driving a long distance you should stop and check your blood sugar level every 60 minutes. Always carry glucose tablets etc in your car.
Sometimes you may miss the signs
Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize a hypo in its early stages. If this happens to you, you may need someone to help you. It's a good idea to tell your family, friends and colleagues that you have diabetes. Let them know how a hypo affects you so that they can recognize the signs, and tell them that you may need their help in the future. Let them know where you keep your hypo treatment too, in case they need to get it for you.
Always carry your identification card or wear an identity bracelet or necklace so that people will know what is wrong and how to help.
Advice for someone helping you to treat a hypo
Tell people that if you have a hypo and are semi-conscious and able to swallow, they should put jam, honey, treacle or GlucoGel into the side your mouth, and rub your cheek from the outside (you don't need to swallow it). They should never try to give you a drink under these circumstances as it could cause choking. If you don't respond, they should call emergency services. Your diabetes team can teach a relative or friend how to deal with hypos safely.
Sometimes a diabetic will get accustomed to having a hypo and not recognize the early signs. You may feel okay and not have any symptoms when your blood glucose is less than 4 mmol/l. If you notice that your blood glucose is less than 4 mmol/l, and you're not recognizing when it drops, talk to your diabetes team. It's very important that you are aware of when you're starting to have a hypo, so that you can deal with it and not put yourself or others in a potentially dangerous situation.
How to Avoid Hypos
There are some simple things you can do to prevent hypos:
Always increase carbohydrates and/or reduce insulin before exercising
Monitor blood glucose more frequently
Keep to a regular treatment pattern and take your medication at the correct times
Eat regular meals and snacks with plenty of slow-release carbohydrates.
Always carry some glucose tablets, a glucose drink, and something starchy with you, just in case you start to feel a bit 'wobbly'.
I always have jelly babies and a flapjack in my bag at all times, in case of a hypo. If you feel the need, just eat 4 jelly babies or glucose tablets, have a drink, and then eat a sandwich or, as I do - a flapjack. In 15 minutes you'll feel great again.


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