Diabetic patients are especially prone to periods of dangerously low blood sugar in part because of the medications they are often prescribed. This condition, called hypoglycemia, is sometimes the result of overusing medication, but excessive exercise, meal skipping, or simply eating less can all lead to a low blood sugar event as well. What makes the condition especially scary is that you can have it and not even know it.
People suffering from low blood sugar can fall unconscious or lapse into a coma — all without realizing anything was wrong. If no one is around to help, the condition can lead to death. That is a terrifying possibility for someone diagnosed with a lifelong condition, so what can you do about it?
Low blood sugar occurs when it dips under 70 mg/dL. That means you aren’t getting the glucose you need, and your body can’t retain the functionality a normal person’s would.
That’s why the first step is checking your blood sugar as often as possible to ensure that it remains where it should. When it falls on more than one occasion the first step is to discover why it’s happening — and then prevent a recurrence.
Although low blood sugar can present without symptoms (hypoglycemic unawareness), you might experience:
- Pale skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Mood swings
- Blurry vision
- Tingly skin
When you discover that your blood sugar is lower than it should be, you need carbohydrates that your body can digest more easily. Soda, juice, honey, candy, crackers, or even a small spoonful of sugar can help you balance your blood sugar.
Work with a diabetic educator or healthcare provider to determine a diet and exercise regimen right for you. Don’t skip meals or start exercising more frequently than you did before. When physically active, consider a snack before or during the increased activity if you know you’re prone to low blood sugar during or after exercise.
Regularity is a diabetic’s most important weapon when fighting the condition. Diabetics must keep close track of the carbohydrates they consume in order to maintain proper blood sugar. They must also be very careful when drinking alcohol, which is best taken with food.
Depending on how serious your symptoms are, some diabetic patients might benefit from keeping a glucagon emergency kit on their person at all times. The medication will help your body increase its own blood sugar by releasing what is already stored in the liver.
How much do you know about diabetes and how it affects our society at large? 23.1 million people had been diagnosed with diabetes in the United States by 2015. An estimated 7.2 million people are likely to remain undiagnosed, and that number appears to be growing steadily year by year. That’s nearly ten percent of our population. 1.25 million of these people suffer from type 1 diabetes.
That means a lot of people require constant care and supervision, diabetic education, and hope.
What might be even more concerning is that an awe-inspiring 84.1 million citizens over the age of eighteen were prediabetics (or about a third of our population). Prediabetes is a common indicator that type 2 diabetes is forthcoming. It means a person’s blood sugar is in a sort of purgatory. It’s not as low as it should be, but not high enough that a diabetes diagnosis is imminent. Other health conditions such as heart disease and stroke are more likely to develop if you have prediabetes first.
Diabetes means management. Prediabetes is more about prevention.
There are a few more things about diabetes demographics you should know if you’re at risk (and especially if you don’t know whether or not you’re at risk):
- It’s the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
- The chances of developing diabetes or being diagnosed with diabetes increases with age. Less than a quarter of one percent of United States citizens under twenty have been diagnosed with diabetes.
- Diabetes is more likely if you are Native American, African American, Hispanic, or Asian American. Mexican Americans are most at risk among the Hispanic population.
- Medical costs for a diabetic patient are at least 2.3 times higher than what patients would spend if they didn’t suffer from the disease.
- Men and women suffer from diabetes at an almost equal rate.
- Diabetes is more prevalent in the deep south and Puerto Rico.
Diabetes costs the United States an estimated $327 billion annually, a cost which is only growing. $237 billion accounts for medical costs, while $90 billion results from diminished productivity.
Risk factors include:
- Smoking. Nearly half of those who suffer from diabetes have a history of smoking.
- Obesity. Nearly 88 percent of those who suffer from diabetes are overweight or obese.
- Exercise. Nearly 41 percent of those who suffer from diabetes lead sedentary lifestyles before diagnosis.
- Genetics. Nearly 74 percent of those who suffer from diabetes had high blood pressure, and nearly 67 percent of those 21 or older had high cholesterol. Family history of either condition increases the risk for diabetes as well, as does a family history of diabetes.
If you have any of these risk factors or think you may have prediabetes or diabetes, you should make an appointment with your doctor immediately. This disease requires care!
There are several factors that can contribute to a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes including obesity, diet, exercise (or lack thereof), smoking and family history. And now, we can add mental tiring work to the list. According to a study that was recently published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, women who find their jobs mentally tiring are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. (more…)
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes get most of the attention, but pregnant women can develop something called “gestational” diabetes due to high blood sugar. This is a serious complication if not controlled, and can lead to a dangerous or difficult birth and subsequent health problems for your newborn. Like any form of diabetes, the patient must do his or her part to control the diabetes in order to have the best prognosis possible. (more…)
Most of us can hardly imagine what it’s like to live with an amputated foot, hand, leg, or arm. It’s an unthinkable obstacle in a world that seems to require full mobility, and few of us are aware of how far prosthetics have come to ensure that amputees live life as normally as possible. But it’s a risk that many diabetics know they must endure. How often must diabetics undergo amputation, and why is it done? (more…)
Diabetes can be a nightmare for those who have it. After diagnosis, a person is forced to adapt to a lifetime of changed routines from diet to exercise to expectations. Diabetes means that blood sugar is out of control, and to get diabetes in control–you first need to determine how best to control blood sugar or glucose.
Diabetes is a very serious condition that is affecting growing numbers of people in the United States.
While there is no cure for it, it can be managed in such a way that most diabetics with some vigilance can live as full and healthy life as any other person, and do many of the same things that other people can do – including diet and exercise.
The key word in that paragraph is “vigilance.”
Vigilance in monitoring and controlling diabetes is the real key to living a normal life in Tampa, Timbuktu or Toledo. And that vigilance – almost an obsessive-compulsive level – is important for doing even selfless things for other people – such as giving blood.
As diabetes is a blood-sugar issue, it can be seen that diabetic blood may not be the best-suited for blood donations to help keep people alive and whole. But there is nothing precluding those with diabetes from donating blood per se, as diabetes isn’t about the blood itself and making it unhealthy, but it’s about the blood sugar level in the blood.
Those who wish to donate blood go through a full health screening, whether he or she is a diabetic or not. The fact that you have diabetes will be noted, and the diabetic must affirm that the blood sugar is controlled and that the person is truly vigilant in monitoring the sugar levels, are taking medication as prescribed and/or is executing a consistent diet and exercise program.
Provided all that is verified and the work continues, most blood clinics will allow a diabetes patient to donate blood without much restriction. However, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor prior to donating any blood, just to make sure all the bases are covered. Normally, you should be able to donate blood every two months or so, but you should never do it if you are not feeling well.
Some key things to consider:
- Avoid any strenuous activities for at least 24 hours after a donation.
- Increase your fluids for several days after donating. If you usually drink eight cups of water a day, consider pushing that to 10 cups a day for about a week after donating, for example.
- Do not go to donate while hungry or thirsty, but don’t’ fill your tummy right before donating; donate about 1-2 hours after eating.
- Make sure your blood sugar level is normal when you donate. The donation process takes an hour or so, and you don’t’ need your blood sugar level dropping during the 10 minutes of donation.
There are very few things as noble as giving blood, and those with diabetes should have every opportunity to be as noble as anyone else. Vigilance is key to charity.
Diabetes is one of those equal-opportunity diseases. It affects a wide cross-section of the population, with little regard to age, race, gender, or national origin.
While there are some tendencies toward higher risk in some groups, there is little doubt that diabetes can and does impact virtually anyone at any stage of life, and it is a lifelong affliction that can only be treated and not cured. (more…)
While this poll was taken in the United Kingdom, the results are reflective of how people in our country are treated at work when they suffer from the condition of diabetes. (more…)
In today’s day and age, going out for a drink with a couple of work friends for Happy Hour is not unheard of. However, if you are suffering from diabetes, whether it’s type 1 or type 2, alcohol can have a myriad of effects on your blood sugar levels including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).