Tag Archives: low blood sugar

Teaching My Kid How to Recognize Low Blood Sugar Symptoms

If a minute passes while I can’t locate my type 1 daughter, I kind of freak out. She doesn’t know what a real low blood sugar feels like and that makes me nervous. In the few months since she’s been diagnosed, her lowest blood sugar has been 58 mg/dl and at the time I tried to get her to describe how she was feeling but she said she felt perfectly fine.
She doesn’t like me panicking, and I don’t either, but lows are serious and one can’t ignore that. It’s only been four months so I think as we get into more activities this Spring and Summer, we’ll have more opportunities to learn how to cope.
Once she does get a reading in the low 50s or below I hope to get her to pay attention to the symptoms so she can start recognizing lows the way I do.

About My Typical Low Blood Sugar Episodes

I have about one low blood sugar a day. These are usually not below 60 though and they’re very slow moving so they’re very rarely a bother. (Slow moving because I follow a low-carb diet which removes almost all threat of fast-moving, scary lows).
However, I think it’s valuable that I can sense them physically because it helps keep me safe and I want that for her, too.
Here’s what my low blood sugars feel like:
As I slowly drop (fast drops feel different), I’ll first start to feel better–like super healthy, good energy, and this is when my blood sugar is in the 70s. I don’t know why but I feel like superwoman in the 70s. Then I’ll start feeling a bit weak and hungry and feel a sense of urgency thanks to an elevated heart rate from an adrenaline surge–that’s when I’ve typically hit the mid-to-low 60s. If it continues to the 50s, every symptom will increase in severity and I might start trembling. Since I was a kid I’ve grabbed a piece of paper with my thumb and forefinger to check for trembling–makes it clearer. I may now also get a numb tongue, which is weird. The 40s feel awful, with tightness in the chest and impaired cognitive abilities. The 20s and 30s are rare but I have experienced them all while conscious. They feel like I’m disassociated from my body, slightly drunk, and heading towards the impending emergency shutdown of the body–on the way to unconsciousness to try and conserve energy for necessary organ function and to preserve life as long as possible (my drama-filled guess anyway). 
I tell my daughter what my symptoms are but have let her know that hers could be different.

Confirm With Meter or CGM to Be Sure

I’m teaching my daughter that while recognizing the symptoms is useful, checking blood sugar is still important because symptoms can overlap. For example, being nervous or even very excited produces a rise in certain hormones and the symptoms of jitteriness, fast heart rate, sweating, weakness, and anxiety can all feel very much like low blood sugar.
Sometimes a high can be confused for a low, too. So, it’s just best to confirm.
Not to mention, you can’t figure out if you’re on point with your observations unless you confirm with a meter. But, it’s helpful to first feel symptoms, take a second to describe how you feel to yourself, and then check to see if you’re close.
Over the years, I have become pretty good at guessing my blood sugar within 10 points. But sometimes I’m way off and so obviously, it’s still necessary to not solely rely on feeling.
This is what I’m teaching her. I am enjoying the fact that she hasn’t had a low that makes her feel awful, yet, but it’s only a matter of time before she does and when that happens, I want her to remember what it feels like so she can recognize it the next time around.

Driving and Hypoglycemia

 

Have you ever driven while suspicious of having low blood sugar?  Have you ever thought you should stop and test but said to yourself, “I’ll test when I get to the next light” or “I’m almost there”?  Or do you always park the car, test, fix your low, and then be on your way?

How do we feel on this matter?  It’s an ethical one for sure.  What might make it awfully common is the fact that for a diabetic, lows are not once in a lifetime matters.  They happen plenty enough so that we don’t panic over many of them.  We might even classify them for our personalized experiences:

Class 1 Low

Just starting to feel low, around 60-65 when tested, energy level is still decent

Cass 2 Low

Feeling a bit shaky but not too bad.  About 55-60 when tested

Class 3 Low

Active insulin on board causing this to be a violent and sudden low.  These feel the worst for me.

Class 4 Low

Blood sugar in the 40’s also known as Eat. Sugar. Now.”

Class 5 Low

Sugar in the 20’s and 30’s. Red alert light beeping loudly in brain, heart feeling heavy and beating fast, and mixed in is a feeling of <yawwnn> “I’m so sleepy…”

(Please note the above is MY classification, it may not be how lows feel for YOU)

Since I am most often dealing with Class 1 and 2 lows, I will often test at a light or a gas station or parking lot, intake sugar (as long as I don’t have active insulin) and as long as I feel ok then continue on my way.

I’m thinking I should instead stop the car somewhere safe and only attempt moving it again once a blood test confirms an adequate blood sugar level for driving.  Inconvenient, yes, but what would you say this is:

A type 1 diabetic woman once told me about how one time she felt funny while driving and decided to ignore it because the kids were screaming in the back seat and she was in a hurry.  Next thing she knew she was being helped by paramedics after having crashed her car.  They tested her sugar to be 43.  She and her kids were fine but she said she learned her lesson.  As we all should before something happens…

What do you do when you’re driving and feel low? 

And do you classify your types of lows?

Do Nighttime Lows Give You Headaches?

 

It only happens a few times a year but there are times when I wake up in the morning, test, and discover I’m low.  I don’t even feel low when this happens and since it’s first thing in the morning, I assume I’ve been creeping down slowly throughout the night instead of shooting down fast.  Then, and it never fails, I start having a headache, much like a migraine over my eyes.  This only progresses throughout the day, getting stronger and stronger and doesn’t go away until the next morning, providing I don’t have any more lows.  If I have another low within 24 hours my headache really flares up and I feel like I have to lie down because it’s seriously overwhelming.

When we’re low, we lack glucose.  Our brain needs glucose to function and so I imagine this is what causes the headache?  I don’t know.  Anyway, does this happen to any of you?  I never get this headache after a low during the day, it’s always if I’ve had a low during sleep where it was prolonged.  I sure hope this doesn’t kill off too many of our brain cells when it happens!

If I’m not the only one this happens to, then it could be useful information to spread.  If someone is having headaches for no apparent reason, I’d suggest setting an alarm or two and testing overnight.  I did this to find out if my headaches were being caused by nighttime lows (that would often rise by morning thanks to the liver) and I found out I was having lows at night.  No wonder I was feeling so tired every morning!  I adjusted my insulin and voila, no more headaches.  (Make sure to talk to your doctor before adjusting insulin).

So, am I the only one this happens to?

The Best Low Blood Sugar Treatment

 

There are good reasons for using all sorts of different options for getting blood sugar up. 

Dr. Bernstein suggests glucose tablets for their fast acting sugar supply and for the fact that it’s measured, so you know exactly how many grams you’re getting. 

Many parents of children like to use candy because it works quickly, is welcomed by the child, and I think we’d all agree, a child suffering a low blood sugar deserves a cheer me up.   Sidenote: I was once low to the point of having a hard time chewing my Smarties candies and proceeded to choke on them.  Sometimes a really bad low might call for something easier to intake-like kids gel-like candy!

Most adults I know tend to lean towards juice because it’s easy to find, carry, and consume quickly. 

Still, others use anything they might enjoy:  some ice cream, a waffle with some maple syrup, some fruit, etc.  I’ve had all of the above hundreds thousands of times.

I like to change up what I use for lows but, I must say I do prefer juice because it’s so fast and easy (no chewing/munching).  (Although this may not work too well for very young children)  There is another reason I like juice.  Typically, after drinking juice for a low, I follow that with some water to swish around in my mouth.  When I use candy or other solid sugary substance, I feel like it’s stuck in my molars (in fact, it is).  The only time I’ve ever had a cavity in my life was the year I used candy or glucose tablets for every low blood sugar.  Coincidence?  I don’t know, maybe.  But, juice is also convenient for adults at work (you look like you’re just thirsty as opposed to having a sugar craving in the middle of what is supposed to be time for working).  I can recall lows in meetings full of older men and feeling a little funny when I took out some candy for a low.  Some of them would make jokes like, “Looking for a sugar high?” or “you just ate enough calories for lunch with that bag of candy there” or even the despicable “Ha ha, what are you, five?”.  When I had juice, I noticed no one ever said anything.   So although I’m ok with awkward situations like these and didn’t mind telling these rude fellows they were just jealous that they didn’t have the guts to eat candy in public, I know some people prefer to avoid the awkwardness.  Besides, I have a hard time stopping eating candy.  I will eat a few pieces resulting in 15 grams of carbs and next thing I know I’m giving insulin for the extra candy I enjoyed all too well. 

Either way, I’d say the best low blood sugar treatment was just whatever one is more comfortable with.  Some of us have had too many glucose tabs to ever have another.  BD Orange glucose tabs make me nauseated just thinking about them.  But, when I was a kid, mmmm they were delicious!  Whatever works best for the individual should be used-always taking in consideration just how low one is. 

I’m glad we have so many options these days aren’t you?