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Low blood sugars – some basics to remember


One of the biggest concerns for people who have diabetes is avoiding low blood sugars. This is not unreasonable, and in fact is essential to keep in the forefront. Many deaths in diabetics each year are probably directly or indirectly related to low blood sugars. Car accidents, falls, and other accidents can be related to low blood sugars. Your medical team is with you on this one: we all want to avoid low blood sugars. HOWEVER, I see many mistakes made by patients, and sometimes their medical teams, when approaching this issue.{{more}} Here are a few points to remember:

1) Low blood sugar does have some symptoms that can be reliable (shaking, sweating, “feeling low”). BUT they can also be relative, meaning that you can have those feelings when your sugar is not as low as you think, or they can only happen when your sugar is REALLY low. I ask my patients about how many times a week they have low sugar symptoms. Then I ask if they tested their fingers. Half the time the answer is “no, I just got some food.” It is important to check your finger with your glucose machine at home if you feel a low blood sugar symptom happening, because that information will help your medical team figure out what to do. Some people feel those symptoms with blood sugars of 50, which is dangerous. Some people feel those symptoms at blood sugar of 150, which is not dangerous. It is very important to figure out the number under those symptoms.

2) IF you have low blood sugars and find yourself eating “to make sure my sugar doesn’t fall” then you should talk to your doctor about changing your medicine around if possible. Yes, you need to eat at regular times, three meals a day. BUT you should not be eating more snacks or late night food to prevent low blood sugars. If that happens, then you may need less medicine instead.

3) Be sure to keep something nearby at all times to treat a low blood sugar. You should have something near to your bed, in your purse, at your desk at work, and stashed all around your house. While I encourage you to check your finger with the machine if you can, I will say differently if you feel like you are about to fall or pass out – if that is the case, don’t bother to check! Grab something sweet, FAST. You should have some juice or a piece of sweetie first, since those will work the fastest. A small amount of icing sugar also works very well. Once you feel better, go test your finger to see what your level is, then get a small snack like half a sandwich.

4) IF you have a problem with low blood sugars, in addition to making changes to your medications with your doctor, I urge you to please stop driving until you get this under control. Low blood sugars while driving can kill not only you and your passengers, but also other people on the road. This is no joke. Ask someone else to drive you until you have a stable pattern without low blood sugars.

Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD

Medical Director Endocrine Care Group

Tel: 843-798-4227