Hypoglycemia: How to Help

What is hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) level is lower than normal. There are a few common causes, such as too much insulin, not enough food, extra physical activity, skipping or delaying meals or snacks, illness, and medication. However, at other times it may just happen for no reason at all.

Predicting hypoglycemia can be incredibly difficult, and there may be a time where you have to help someone if they are experiencing a low. Here are a few tips that can help you be more prepared for an emergency when it comes to your loved ones:

Know The Signs/Symptoms

The signs and symptoms people display when experiencing hypoglycemia can be different for each person. But the more quickly you can identify symptoms, the faster you can help them. There are more common indicators such as:

– Shaking 

– Anxiety

– Sweating/chills

– Irritability and impatience

– Confusion 

– Rapid heartbeat 

– Weakness/fatigue 

– Dizziness

– Mood swings 

– Hunger/nausea

– Pale skin 

– Blurred vision 

– Headaches 

– Lack of concentration 

– Lack of co-ordination 

– Seizures

– Unconsciousness 

Ask Questions

If your loved one has Diabetes, take some time to sit down and talk to them. Asking them questions about the symptoms they display when experiencing hypoglycemia will be helpful to you so you know what to look for. In addition, getting a better understanding of how their body reacts will give you the right tools to help if any issues occur.

Check Blood Glucose Levels 

Asking your loved ones to check their BG levels if their behavior seems off is never a bad thing. You must be stern but not forceful, as they may not be able to process information while experiencing hypoglycemia. Checking their BG levels can let you know what level their blood sugar is at immediately to avoid any complications.

Follow the Rule of 15

When someone has a low BG level, provide them with 15g of fast-acting carbohydrates. This can include fruit juice, pop, skim milk, hard candy (3 pieces), and raisins (approx. two tablespoons). After 15 minutes, get them to re-check their BG levels. If they are still low, repeat the same process. When your blood sugar is very low, it’s hard not to want to eat more — the brain’s hunger center is on overdrive to fix the problem. But that waiting period is essential because over-treating low blood sugar could make that number swing too high, causing a different problem. Find out what foods your loved ones like that they would take as a treatment for hypoglycemia.

Remember, do not force food or drink into their mouth if they refuse to eat or drink anything. If their blood sugar is very low, it is time to call 911.

Be Prepared to Handle Emergencies

If your loved one becomes unconscious, it is important not to panic and be prepared in case of an emergency. Call 911, and only if you have been trained on how to do so, administer Glucagon.

When a person is non-responsive, Glucagon is a hormone that increases blood sugar levels when injected under the skin. This is why it’s essential to talk to your loved one if they have Diabetes, as you can discuss with them if they have a prescription for Glucagon, and they can teach you how to administer it, if necessary. However, expiration dates are an important detail before administering Glucagon, and if it is expired, discolored, or does not dissolve well, do not administer it.

Click the link to see a demonstration on how to administer Glucagon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP16AtvUJ_o

Carry an “Emergency Kit”

Carrying an emergency kit can be beneficial to someone with Diabetes. This kit not only can be used in case of emergencies but can be used day-to-day to keep high or low blood sugar in check. Emergency kits should be tailored to the needs of your loved one, but some general things to consider including are:

– Protein bars/snacks

– Bottled water

– Glucagon kit

– Glucose tablets or quick-acting sources of sugar (e.g., orange juice, pop, lifesaver hard candy, etc.)

– Blood glucose meter and supplies

– Alcohol swabs

– Syringes

– Insulin Pen and needles

– General first aid kit

– Flashlight

– Waterproof tape and adhesive remover

– Small scissors

– A cooling pack

– Spare batteries


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