Islets of Hope for persons with diabetes
Article by Lahle Wolfe, Founder, Islets of Hope. For article use and reprint permission please contact:
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Information on normal and acceptable target blood glucose ranges for both diabetics and nondiabetics. Our chart considers factors such as age and whether or not a person is newly diagnosed.
Two types of hypoglycemia can occur in people who do not have diabetes: reactive (postprandial, or after meals) and fasting (postabsorptive). Reactive hypoglycemia is not usually related to any underlying disease; fasting hypoglycemia often is.
Onset: Rapid; sudden, may not be preventable.
Causes Related to Diabetes: Missing snacks or meals, eating too little food, taking too much insulin, too much activity, side effects of medications taken, or a combination of these things.
ALERT: All lows are potentially dangerous and can lead to seizure, convulsion, unconsciousness, and death if not treated. If you are unable to test someone's blood glucose, always assume the person is low and treat for low blood glucose. Call 911 and test blood glucose as soon as possible.
SYMPTOMS OF LOW BLOOD GLUCOSE
Any of the above symptoms plus:
Severe hypoglycemia requires injection of glucagon!
Did You Know?
... preventing hypoglycemia while you are driving a vehicle is especially important? Checking blood glucose frequently and snacking as needed to keep your blood glucose above 70 mg/dL will help prevent accidents.
... that exercise can cause hypoglycemia? Check your blood glucose before you exercise and afterwards. If you are active for a long time, or, feel any of the symptoms of abnormal blood glucose levels (high or low) check during exercise as well.
Hypoglycemia and Diabetes: Doing Your Part
Signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia can vary from person to person. Get to know your own signs and describe them to your friends and family so they will be able to help you. If your child has diabetes, tell school staff about low blood sugar and how to treat it.
If you suffer hypoglycemia several times a week, call your health care provider.
Preventing diabetic hypoglycemia
Medications, Supplements and Hypoglycemia
Certain medications can contribute to, or cause, hypoglycemia. Diabetes medications including Glucophage (metformin), Actos, and Avandia, are a few. Other medications and even certain over-the-counter supplements may also contribute to hypoglycemia. It is important to tell your doctor and pharmacist all the medications and supplements that you are taking.
Preventing Hypoglycemia During the Day
Your diabetes treatment plan is designed to match your medication dosage and schedule to your usual meals and activities. If you take insulin but then skip a meal, the insulin will still lower your blood glucose, but it will not find the food it is designed to break down. This will result in hypoglycemia.
Preventing Hypoglycemia During the Night
Check your blood sugar at bedtime before an evening snack. If your reading is less than 120 mg/dL (or whatever pre-bedtime target your doctor has given you, i.e., Elizabeth, my 6-year-old's target is 140 mg/dL), you may need to eat a larger snack containing carbohydrates and protein. For children, or those on an insulin pump, pre-bedtime target ranges may be slightly higher. Be sure you understand what your doctor has recommended for you and if it is not working well for you be sure to consult your doctor.
You should check your blood glucose at least once during each night. If you wake in the morning with a headache, or high fasting sugars, it may be a sign that low blood sugar occurring during the night.
If you suspect low blood glucose during the night check your blood sugar at 3:00 a.m. If your blood glucose is low at that time, you may need a smaller dose of intermediate insulin (NPH) or long-lasting insulin (Lantus® or Ultralente) in the evening. If you are on an insulin pump your basal rates may need adjusting. Never change your insulin guidelines without discussing them with your doctor first!
OH Medical Tip: Consuming high-fat snacks late in the evening can keep blood glucose levels elevated. See "Hyperglycemia" to learn more about high blood glucose levels.
Preventing Hypoglycemia Related to Exercise
Exercise can cause either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. To help avoid low blood glucose during exercise:
See our Lifestyles section for more information on sports, exercise, and diabetes.
More Information About Hypoglycemia
People with diabetes
People that do not have diabetes
Page Updated 03/10/2006