Hypoglycemia is the condition that occurs when blood sugar (glucose) drops to an abnormally low level. This is usually defined as blood sugar below 70 mg/dl, although individual blood glucose targets do vary among individuals. Hypoglycemia is also referred to as insulin shock or insulin reaction, and although it may seem to happen suddenly, most people who have diabetes learn to recognize signs or symptoms ahead of time.
If hypoglycemia is suspected, blood glucose should be checked. But if it can’t be, it’s extremely important to react as if the condition is hypoglycemia. Failing to do so can potentially lead to injuries or accidents, coma and even death.
Some of the signs or symptoms of low blood sugar may be quite noticeable. These include shakiness, sweating or chills, a rapid heartbeat, tingling or numbness on the tongue or lips, or blurred vision. Someone experiencing hypoglycemia may have a headache, feel hungry or nauseous, appear clumsy or confused, or become sleepy. Some people may seem impatient, irritable or angry; others become sad or if sleeping, may experience nightmares. Seizures and unconsciousness are obvious signs of hypoglycemia that demand immediate care.
Act quickly if you suspect you or another individual is experiencing low blood glucose symptoms. Check with your health care practitioner for specifics on what to do so you are prepared. Recommendations typically include consumption of 15-20 grams of glucose or simple carbohydrates. This may be in the form of glucose tablets, or food or drink such as raisins, hard candies, sugar, honey, juice, or milk. Blood glucose levels should be checked after 15 minutes and if still low, the individual should once again consume glucose. When levels return to normal, the person should have a small snack or meal.
In the case of hypoglycemia leading to seizure or coma, it’s important to be prepared. At this point, consumption of glucose or simple carbohydrates is an inadequate and inappropriate care strategy, as the individual may choke. The hormone glucagon typically needs to be injected if an individual is unconscious due to a severe insulin reaction. To be prepared for severe hypoglycemia, speak with your health care provider about obtaining a glucagon kit. Learn how and when it should be used, and educate those you are in frequent contact with about it if you are the one who may need care.
Learning to live with diabetes involves being prepared to manage low blood sugar symptoms as well as other aspects of the disease. Yet there is much more you can do to care for your health and help minimize the risk of hypoglycemia and other conditions. By working with a practitioner who is trained in functional neurology, you can help your body heal and recover from the widespread disruption of function diabetes involves.
Functional neurology seeks to help diabetics manage their conditions. This is achieved through comprehensive testing and analysis of the patient’s overall health condition, so the exact causes of blood sugar problems and insulin resistance are identified. With this knowledge, targeted lifestyle interventions and therapeutic support that is safe, natural and risk-free can be developed into an effective plan of care. The individual, in partnership with the functional neurologist, can achieve measurable goals that support a significant, lasting improvement in health.