When Should I See A Doctor About My Seizures
The first time you experience a seizure, you should go to the hospital to rule out any potential problems or injuries. If you have experienced several seizures, and you notice an increase in numbers, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. It is a good idea to see a neurologist, a doctor that specializes in the brain, along with your doctor that manages your diabetes. They can make sure that it is indeed the diabetes that is causing the seizures, and not some neurological disorder.
Important things that you should tell your doctor about are:
- How often you are having seizures
- What time of day they occur
- How long they last
- What symptoms you have before it happens
- What your typical diet consists of
- How often you exercise and at what time of the day
- What you do to increase your blood sugar when you notice it is getting low
- How often your blood sugar drops to a level that you have to treat it
- It is also very important to keep a log of blood sugars
After telling the doctor about these things, questions that you should ask them include:
- What am I doing that is causing my blood sugar to drop?
- Do I need a prescription for a Glucagon injection for emergency situations?
- Would a continuous monitoring device be beneficial for me?
- Should I raise my target blood sugar levels?
- Are any of my medications causing this?
- How can I prevent my blood sugar from dropping?
When To Use Your Glucagon Emergency Kit
You need glucagon if your blood sugar level is less than 50 mg/dl and you are:
- Unable to eat or drink safely because youre confused or disoriented
- Having seizures
If possible, someone will need to check your blood sugar level to make sure its low. This is because having high blood sugar can also make you unconscious. In that case, glucagon wont help. Instead, get medical attention right away by calling 911. If you cannot find the blood glucose kit, and the person is showing the symptoms above, skip this step.
What You Can Do
Most of the sugar or glucose in your blood comes from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches in grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, milk and milk products, honey, and sugar. If you dont have diabetes and youre feeling the unpleasant effects of a drop in blood sugar, eat or drink something with carbohydrates. Good choices are a piece of fruit, a few whole wheat crackers, a glass of milk, or a carton of yogurt.
In people with diabetes, hypoglycemia can come on suddenly and needs to be treated right away so it doesnt get worse. Eat or drink a quickly digested carbohydrate food, such as:
½ cup fruit juice
½ cup of a regular soft drink
1 cup of milk
5 or 6 hard candies
4 or 5 saltine crackers
2 tablespoons of raisins
3 to 4 teaspoons of sugar or honey
3 or 4 glucose tablets or a serving of glucose gel
Each of these choices provides about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Wait for 15 or 20 minutes, then check your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter. If your blood sugar is still low, have another portion of carbohydrates.
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How Do Carbs Affect Blood Sugar
Carbs in food make your blood sugar levels go higher after you eat them than when you eat proteins or fats. You can still eat carbs if you have diabetes. The amount you can have and stay in your target blood sugar range depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors. Counting carbs in foods and drinks is an important tool for managing blood sugar levels. Make sure to talk to your health care team about the best carb goals for you.
Low Blood Sugar Risks With Insulin And Sulfonylureas
There are different types of drugs used to manage diabetes. They are put into different classes depending on how they work.
- Those who manage their blood sugar with diet and exercise dont have to worry much. The risk of hypoglycemia is the same as non-diabetics.
- Reassuringly, those who only take drugs that limit the amount of sugar released from the liver and slow down the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestines , also have a very low risk.
- Those using insulinotropic agents , which stimulate or affect the production of insulin, need to be especially careful, as does anyone using insulin.
- Shockingly, while insulin-dependent people with diabetes experience many more low blood sugars, it is the patient group using sulfonylureas who have more severe low blood sugars requiring emergency assistance. That may ultimately be because those using insulin understand the risks for lows and are often better prepared for them.
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How Can I Treat Low Blood Sugar Quickly
If you feel symptoms of low blood sugar, test your levels with a blood glucose monitor as soon as possible. If your sugar levels are low , you can follow the 15-15-15 Rule:
Eat 15 g of a fast-acting carbohydrate . Common examples of 15 g include: a half cup of fruit juice, 6 to 8 hard candies, or 3 to 4 glucose tablets.
After 15 minutes, retest your sugar levels.
If they are still low, eat 15 g more.
If you are having a severe hypoglycemic attack or are unable to treat yourself, you may need a trained person to administer an emergency injection from your glucagon kit or a nasal spray of Baqsimi. If needed, you can eat 15 g of a fast-acting carbohydrate right after. If, after 15 minutes, you are still feeling confused or unconscious, have someone call 9-1-1.
A Low Blood Sugar Level And Driving
You may still be allowed to drive if you have diabetes or you’re at risk of a low blood sugar level for another reason, but you’ll need to do things to reduce the chance of this happening while you’re driving.
You also need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and your car insurance company about your condition.
For more information, see:
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Diabetes And Blood Donation: Can You Donate Blood If You Have Diabetes
It depends, just like most things in diabetes. There isnt a clear answer between diabetes and blood donation since it relies on many factors. In short, its all about sugar levels and the type of insulins you have been using. It does not matter which type of diabetes you have as the eligibility criteria depend on your diabetes management and your medications.
Can Diabetes Patients Using Oral Diabetes Medication Donate Blood
Yes, persons using oral medications and diet to control their diabetes are welcome to donate. Again, their diabetes must be well-controlled and they must be well when presenting to donate blood.
Most medication used to treat diabetes are classed as category B drugs. Therefore, are considered safe if one should opt to become a blood donor.
Understanding the categories of medication
Medications are assigned to five letter categories based on their level of risk to foetal outcomes in pregnancy. It can give one a good idea on the level of safety of a drug at a glance. This is of importance in transfusion as a fair percentage of SANBS blood products are used by pregnant women, women in labour or who are post-partum, and, of course, we also supply blood products for use in babies and children.
So, category A is the safest category of drugs to take. Category B medications are medications that are used routinely and safely during pregnancy. The C and D category drugs have shown positive evidence of human foetal risk but potential benefits of the drug may warrant use in pregnant women. Category X is never to be used in pregnancy. This is a classification based on the safety of a drug in pregnancy and lactation.
|FDA has not yet classified the drug into a specified pregnancy category.
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How Long Will The Effects Last
The effects of low blood sugar will continue and may even get worse until treatment brings your blood sugar level back to normal. It may take several minutes for the symptoms to go away after you start treatment. This may be a temporary problem while you and your healthcare provider are adjusting your medicine. If you are always prone to having low blood sugar, you may need to take special care for the rest of your life to keep your blood sugar at the proper level.
How Can I Check My Blood Sugar
Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.
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How Is It Treated
If you often have symptoms of hypoglycemia, you should see your healthcare provider. Your provider can help you determine the cause. Your provider will also give you guidelines for treating low blood sugar when you are having symptoms.
When you see your provider, be sure to take your notebook or glucose meter with all of the results of your recent blood sugar checks. This helps your provider know whether you are on the right medicines and are taking the right dose at the right time of day. Without this record, it is harder for your provider to help you figure out the cause of your symptoms.
Here are some examples of guidelines your provider may give you:
- If you have diabetes and you think your blood sugar may be too low, check it with your home meter before treatment, if possible.
- Always carry some form of sugar you can eat as soon as you have any symptoms of hypoglycemia. The following amounts and types of foods will bring your blood sugar level up:
- 2 to 5 glucose tablets
- 1/2 cup fruit juice
- 1/2 cup regular soda
- 6 to 8 ounces of skim milk
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup of raisins
- 5 to 7 pieces of hard candy like Lifesavers
- a tube of glucose in gel form
- 1 tablespoon of molasses, corn syrup, or honey
Preventing A Low Blood Sugar Level
If you have diabetes, you can reduce your chance of getting a low blood sugar level if you:
- Check your blood sugar level regularly and be aware of the symptoms of a low blood sugar level so you can treat it quickly.
- Always carry a sugary snack or drink with you, such as glucose tablets, a carton of fruit juice or some sweets. If you have a glucagon injection kit, always keep it with you.
- Do not skip meals.
- Be careful when drinking alcohol. Do not drink large amounts, check your blood sugar level regularly, and eat a carbohydrate snack afterwards.
- Be careful when exercising eating a carbohydrate snack before exercise can help to reduce the risk of a hypo. If you take some types of diabetes medicine, your doctor may recommend you take a lower dose before or after doing intense exercise.
- Have a carbohydrate snack, such as toast, if your blood sugar level drops too low while you’re asleep
If you keep getting a low blood sugar level, talk to your diabetes care team about things you can do to help prevent it.
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Checking For Low Blood Sugar Levels
The warning signs of hypoglycemia are the body’s natural response to low blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels fall too low, the body releases the hormone adrenaline, which helps get stored glucose into the bloodstream quickly. This can make someone:
- start shaking
- have an increased heart rate
If the hypoglycemia isn’t treated, more serious symptoms may happen, such as drowsiness, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
The only way to know for sure if you’re having a low blood sugar level is to test. Blood sugar levels can be tested with a . This computerized device measures and displays the amount of glucose in a blood sample. But if you can’t quickly check your blood sugar level, it’s important to treat yourself for hypoglycemia immediately to prevent symptoms from getting worse.
Sometimes a person with diabetes may have symptoms of low blood sugar levels, but blood sugar levels are not actually low. This is a called a false reaction. The hormone adrenaline is not just released when blood sugar drops too low it’s also released when blood sugar levels fall quickly when they’re too high. If you’re having a false reaction, you might actually have blood sugar levels in a healthy range but feel as if you have low blood sugar. Testing blood sugar levels before treating yourself for hypoglycemia can help you figure out if you’re having a false reaction.
Can People With Diabetes Give Blood/blood Products
BHSc , MSc , APD, CDE
Professional Services Manager, ADEA
After attaining a Bachelor of Health Science at the University of Newcastle in 2002, Rachel spent 3 years working in Inpatient/Outpatient Service roles within various locations in New South Wales and Victoria within the public health system. This work experience provided Rachel with clear insight into the needs of patients with diabetes and a desire to develop a meaningful career in this field.
In 2007, Rachel obtained a Graduate Certificate , as well as establishing a private dietetics and diabetes education consultation practice in Perth of which she was the Director until 2011.
From 2011-2013 Rachel continued clinical work as a Diabetes Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for NSW Health. During this time, Rachel was also involved in national policy reviews and national guideline development for various projects relating to people with diabetes.
In 2015 Rachel completed a Master of Science with a project to evaluate the ADEA mentoring program.
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Treating Mild To Moderate Hypoglycemia
If you start feeling any of the symptoms listed above, check your blood sugar as soon as possible, then follow the chart below to treat low blood sugar. If you have any concerns, or cant test immediately, its best to treat first and check when possible.
If your blood sugar is
What to do next
51 to 70 mg/dL
10 to 15 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as 4 ounces of fruit juice, 6 to 8 hard candies, or 3 to 4 glucose tablets.
Test your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. Repeat the treatment if necessary.
Under 50 mg/dL
Eat 20 to 30 grams of fast-acting carbs, such as 8 ounces of fruit juice, 12 to 16 hard candies, or 6 to 8 glucose tablets.
Test your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. Repeat the treatment if necessary.
What Extreme Conditions Can Occur If Hypoglycemia Is Left Untreated
Although severe episodes which can trigger potentially life-threatening comas are rare, they require immediate emergency room care, so its best to make sure you are tracking your blood sugar so that you never have to worry about getting to that point. A drop in blood sugar means less fuel for your brain, so its critical for your body to receive enough glucose. Hypoglycemia that leads to extended, reduced brain function is the biggest concern, as this can lead to seizures and loss of basic bodily functions controlled by the brain, which can ultimately lead to death, explains Dr. Dyer.
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Choose Carbohydrates That Keep Blood Sugar Steady
Our wide variety of food products contain different levels and types of carbohydrates making it harder to eat wisely with diabetes. In general, you will want to choose carbs that have the least impact on your blood sugar. That means selecting foods that are high fiber, low sugar foods since these are absorbed more slowly and so have little impact on blood sugar changes.
Best carb choices to promote a healthy lifestyle for people with diabetes:
- High fiber foods include: Whole grain breads and cereals, and foods made with 100% whole wheat, oats, quinoa, brown rice, corn and cornmeal
- Dried beans, lentils, and peas
- Fresh fruits like berries, apples, pears, and oranges
- Dairy products including yogurt, milk, and cheese. The best yogurt is Greek-style or strained yogurt since these contain triple the level of protein.
- Vegetables. Both starchy and non-starchy vegetables are all healthy carbs that have less effect on your blood sugar
As you might guess, sugar-sweetened cookies, cakes, doughnuts, and other baked goods made with white flour as well as candy and soft drinks that contain sugar and high fructose corn syrup have little nutritional value and are likely to send your blood sugar soaring, so should eat them only occasionally, if at all, and only in very small amounts.
How Do I Treat An Episode Of Hypoglycemia
The American Diabetes Association recommends the 15-15 rule for an episode of hypoglycemia:
- Eat or drink 15 grams of carbs to raise your blood sugar.
- After 15 minutes, check your blood sugar.
- If its still below 70 mg/dL, have another 15 grams of carbs.
- Repeat until your blood sugar is at least 70 mg/dL.
If you have symptoms of hypoglycemia but cant test your blood sugar, use the 15-15 rule until you feel better.
Note: Children need fewer grams of carbs. Check with your healthcare provider.
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