Hypos at Work

Blood sugar should be managed to prevent hypoglycemia
Blood sugar should be managed to prevent hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia at work can be at best an awkward or embarrassing experience and at worse, downright frightening.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia at work

For active jobs blood sugar needs to be well managed to prevent hypoglycemia. You may notice your muscles becoming unusually tired and even thinking and talking may feel difficult.

Even diabetics who aren’t on insulin (if taking alternative diabetes medication) can be more susceptible to hypoglycaemia as a result of strenuous activity.

For desk jobs hypoglycemia may be noticeable by blurring of eyesight, yawning, a sudden raise in body temperature and difficulty concentrating.

Pay attention to any symptom that affects your performance and don’t allow yourself to make other excuses such as:

  • “It’s been a hard day”
  • “I’m stressed”
  • “I’m no good at my job”

These may cause you to dismiss hypoglycemia as a possibility.

Preparing for hypos at work

Make sure you are well stocked with glucose tablets, or an alternative hypo remedy, and keep your testing kit nearby.

If you drive with work related responsibilities, it is essential you do not drive if you feel like you are experiencing hypoglycemia.

Hypos and stress

The way stress affects blood sugar levels can vary from person to person and can increase the chance of hypoglycemia happening, particularly for insulin treated diabetes.

Hypoglycemia and letting your colleagues know

If your diabetes makes you prone to suffering from hypoglycemia, it’s well advised to let your colleagues know and make sure they understand what steps need to be taken.

Make sure your employer knows that it is important that you need to be able to test if you feel your blood sugar levels are low.

Hypos in a meeting

It can be stressful if you’re in a meeting situation, either with clients or colleagues, and you feel your blood glucose levels are low. It may be tempting to hope the meeting ends quick but this isn’t the best solution.

If you feel low, do not hesitate to ask for time to do a blood glucose test. It can take the pressure off you and allow you to perform far better than you could with a low sugar level.

Hypos are affecting my performance

If hypoglycaemia is starting to significantly affect your ability to your job as well as you’d like, it may be worth speaking with an Occupational Therapist or healthcare professional who will be able to consider your case and make recommendations which your employer should take into account.

Hypoglycemia and absence from work

Occasionally, hypoglycaemia may cause you to be late for or absent from work.

Most employers will not be too concerned if the absence is a one-off or very occasional but if the lateness or absence happens with regularity, your employer may take issue.

If the nature of your work, such as working differing shifts or needing to forgo lunch, is increasing the chance of hypos, you may wish to be referred to speak with an Occupational Health Adviser.

OHAs may be able to work with you and your employer to suggest changes to your working regime.

Explore Diabetes and Hypos at Work