Hypos: hypoglycaemic attacks/low blood sugar

Av What should you do if you or anyone you know has a hypo? Irritation or trembling may be signs of a hypo, and someone with extremely low blood sugar may act intoxicated.

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This may be caused by several factors:

• Excessive dose of insulin or tablets
• Not enough to eat
• Physical overexertion
• Drinking alcohol
• Intense distress/stress

Some people with diabetes cannot tell that their blood sugar is dropping too low.

If you have a hypo, it is important to eat something to rapidly restore your blood sugar. Hypo food can be many different things, but should consist of fast-acting and slow-acting carbohydrates so as to both restore your blood sugar to a safe level, and maintain it at that level.

Because whether or not you have diabetes, although your blood sugar increases rapidly (with fast-acting carbohydrates), it will just as soon go down again.

Treatment for mild hypos:

A mild hypo can be treated with carbohydrates that cross into the bloodstream quickly. Liquid foods containing a lot of sugar are quickly absorbed by the gut, and so provide a rapid increase in blood sugar. If there's a long time until your next meal, you will need to snack in between, ideally on foods rich in slow-acting carbohydrates so as to stabilise your blood sugar. Ideally, you should take something sugary with you, and a packed lunch, if you are away from home.

Examples of hypo food rich in fast-acting carbohydrates:

• Sugary drinks like fruit juices or sweetened, carbonated soft drinks
• Sugar/sugar lumps
• Dextrose lozenges
• Honey
• Jam
• Milk
• Banana
• Grapes/raisins
• Chocolate
• Cookies

Some people may have problems getting the right amount of hypo food, and end up overcompensating, and then be in a state of severe hyperglycaemia (excessively high blood sugar) for some time after a hypoglycaemic attack. If your blood sugar has a general tendency to fluctuate, you may be more likely to overcompensate.

Talk to you doctor or diabetes nurse if there are any changes you can make in terms of your insulin, diet or physical exercise. Maintaining a diet in which you try to avoid fast-acting carbohydrates altogether may possibly help you achieve more stable and manageable glycaemic control.