Fear of Hypoglycemia

A fear of hypoglycemia is common for people with diabetes
A fear of hypoglycemia is common for people with diabetes

Fear of hypoglycemia is a commonly reported problem and can affect most types of diabetes. It is particularly common in type 1 diabetes but it can also affect women with gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetics on certain oral medications.

Being afraid and worried about hypos is not only something that people with diabetes experience, it is also a feeling frequently shared by their friends and loved ones.

Managing the fear of hypoglycemia

In situations where you are worried, or even scared of having hypos, some people may decide to run their blood sugars higher than usual and others may abstain from a particular activity, such as certain sports or driving.

How you cope with concerns about hypoglycemia is a matter of individual taste and it could come down to a play off of what is most important to you; good blood glucose control, the freedom to have fun or the safety of moderation.

Worrying about hypoglycemia

Where worry of hypoglycemia is prevalent, it’s well worth performing regular blood tests.

Whether you’re an athlete, frequent driver or the partner of a concerned spouse, blood testing can help you to understand why you may be going low and change your management routine to help prevent it in future.

Over treating hypos

If you have had a serious or uncomfortable hypo experience, it can be a natural reaction to over treat a hypo, just to make sure. Generally most hypos can be treated with 10 to 15 grams of quick acting carbohydrate, and where a meal is not due, an additional longer acting source of carbohydrate.

Over treating hypos can therefore result either from taking too large an amount of short acting carbohydrate or taking too much long acting carbs. Short term carbohydrate will typically take around 10 to 15 minutes to sufficiently raise blood sugar levels, but it can take longer. If sugar levels do not appear to rise, it can be tempting to keep eating glucose.

Unless a large insulin dosage error occurred, it is best to be patient and allow sugar levels to rise. If you are worried, perform a test every 10 or so minutes.

Night time hypoglycemia

Hypos at night can be a particular worry for some people, especially if you wake up during a hypoglycemic episode.

Less severe hypos during the night are relatively common. More serious hypos will usually be a result of over dosage. If you are having regular or severe hypos during the night, your healthcare team can advise how to change your regime.

Hypoglycemia and your social life

When you just want to kick back, relax and have fun, the last thing you want to worry about is hypoglycemia. Where alcohol is involved, the problem can be worse as alcohol makes it harder to recognise when you are low.

Parents

Managing the threat of hypoglycemia in your children can be very stressful, particularly if your child has suffered from severe hypos in the past. It can be difficult to strike a balance between keeping blood sugars from being too high whilst preventing hypos.

Keeping a comprehensive set of blood testing records for your child will certainly help with getting a good understanding of your child’s control and help to ensure your child is hitting the right numbers.

Be aware that is common for children who self test to lie about their numbers.

Hypoglycemia and relationships

Friends and family may also worry about hypoglycemia.

They may want to try and protect you by asking you to keep your sugars higher.

If you are committed to keeping tight control this can present an issue.

No-one should force you into making a change but make sure you listen to their concerns and try not to be stubborn.

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