3 quick steps to recognize and confirm that someone living with diabetes is currently having low blood glucose (hypoglycemia)

Hypoglycemia (aka low blood glucose) is potentially fatal if not recognized and treated promptly. Self care skills acquired from diabetes self management education is life saving to patients presenting with hypoglycemia. But,  it’s important that persons living with diabetes and or their caregivers should recognize and confirm hypoglycemia via these 3 steps:

  1. Recognize the symptoms and signs of hypoglycemia which are divided into two :

a. warning symptoms that are due to increase adrenaline and other chemicals release by the body. They include :

Excessive sweating

Feeling of hunger

Feeling of tremors

Palpitations (ie awareness of one’s heartbeat).

Nausea (ie feeling like to vomit),

Shivering

Anxiety

b. Symptoms due to effects on the brain which include:

Confusion

Headache

General body weakness

Irritability

Lack of concentration

Aggression

Dizziness

Drowsiness and

Coma

The warning symptoms are important and should be recognized to prevent effects on the brain. Then, the next step is to:

  1. Check the person’s blood glucose as soon as the symptoms of hypoglycemia (listed above) are recognized in the patient. If the person’s blood glucose then is less than 2.5mmol/l or 45mg/dl, he/she is strongly suspected to have hypoglycemia which is confirmed by the last step which is:

  2. Resolution of the symptoms of hypoglycemia noted in the  person after taking a glucose -rich food or beverage or intravenous infusion. This,  finally, confirms the diagnosis of hypoglycemia in the person.

It’s important that one should act fast as soon as the warning symptoms are observed or complained of by the patients. It’s, also,  important that all persons living with diabetes who are on insulin injections should always have some cubes of sugar or sugar rich sodas /beverages in their homes.  This is a precautionary measure against  hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia experience is a nightmare to most patients who have had it.

 

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