HYPOGLYCEMIA, RECOGNIZING IT AND MANAGING IT
Hypoglycemia is a drop in the level of glucose in the blood, which can cause neurological disorders such as paralysis, double vision or loss of consciousness (blood sugar less than 0.70 g/l).
What are the signs of hypoglycemia?
Generally, the signs of hypoglycemia are :
- a paleness in the skin,
- blurry vision,
- a feeling of weakness,
- mood swings (sadness, aggression or euphoria)
Hypoglycemia is very rare in people with good health
In a healthy person, blood sugar is controlled by several hormones. For example, insulin secreted after a meal lowers blood sugar, while glucagon, the growth hormone, adrenaline and cortisol cause it to rise. All these hormones are finely adjusted so that the circulating glucose level is relatively constant, even under fasting conditions.
Overall, hypoglycemia is rare in healthy people, except in cases of drunkenness or intense and prolonged exercise. A common mistake that is made is blaming some discomforts on a state of hypoglycemia. The origin of the discomfort can be quite different. If it is recurrent or persistent, you need to do more thorough exams to not miss another pathology, such as a heart problem.
Most of the time, the reaction hypoglycemia is mild and fades spontaneously or after ingestion of foods that provide glucose to the body.
The risk of hypoglycemia is elevated mainly in people treated with insulin and those treated with sulphonylurea. Hypoglycemia is indeed the most common complication of diabetes. Thus, it is part of the daily life of diabetes patient.
As a result, a diabetic patient must learn to recognize hypoglycemia, to act effectively and if possible to prevent it.
If there is suspicion of hypoglycemia, a measurement of blood glucose can be used to measure the level of sugar in the blood. Similarly, the disappearance of signs after food intake or re-sugaring by the venous route can confirm the diagnosis in cases of consciousness disorders.
Management of hypoglycemia
Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels through blood glucometers and good knowledge and awareness of the sugar intake in food can help prevent hypoglycemia. In addition, the diabetes patient must learn to manage particular situations such as the practice of sports, irregular work schedules, jet lag travel etc … Finally, in cases of hypoglycemia, the patient must know which foods bring him fast acting sugars, as well as the amount necessary and sufficient.
Personalized and continuous education
The management of hypoglycemia is a entire part of the education provided by diabetologists and teams of health professionals. To be effective, this education must be personalized and repeated regularly. This learning of “management of hypoglycemia” is essential because an ill-informed patient who worries about the risk of hypoglycemia, will tend to maintain high blood glucose levels, which in the long run will cause an increased risk of complications of diabetes, such as loss of sight, leg amputations, kidney failure etc…
Crédit photo : R. Danneman
- « What Is Hypoglycemia? What Causes Hypoglycemia? », sur Medical News Today, 9 août 2009
- « Hypoglycemia – National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse » [archive], Diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/
- « Diabetes and Hypoglycemia », Diabetes.co.uk (consulté le 10 mars 2012).