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Hypoglycemia: Many Uncertain of How to Manage

Evan Sisson discusses the results of a recent survey

Laura Kolodjeski of Sanofi US DiabetesLaura Kolodjeski

This month the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), with support from Sanofi US, released findings from an online survey that assessed those living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and their awareness of hypoglycemia, a condition also known as low blood sugar (glucose). Diabetes educator, former AADE Board Member and associate professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Pharmacy Evan Sisson, PharmD, MHA, CDE*, joins me to share his insights into the survey’s findings and how those living with diabetes may help reduce their risk of hypoglycemia.

The Findings

Conducted among 1,000 Americans living with diabetes, survey findings showed that more than 60 percent of those surveyed have experienced hypoglycemia and 19 percent have visited the emergency room for treatment. Further, a majority of survey respondents (81 percent) indicated that hypoglycemia is a significant health concern. The results highlight the need for improved understanding of hypoglycemia including how to recognize the symptoms and how to treat it.

Evan Sisson, PharmD, MHA, CDE®
Evan Sisson, PharmD, MHA, CDE*

Understanding Hypoglycemia

AADE’s survey showed that 42 percent of respondents who had not experienced hypoglycemia were unable to correctly define what the condition is, and nearly half were not aware that taking a glucose tablet could help treat hypoglycemia.

“Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood sugar or glucose levels of those living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes reach levels of 70mg/dL or below and the condition can often be prevented by regularly checking blood glucose levels and understanding the signs and symptoms,” Evan shared.

Recognizing the Symptoms

The AADE shares information for identifying and treating hypoglycemia. Some of the most common symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, anxiety, sweating, confusion and headaches. It’s important to also understand that hypoglycemia can occur at night as blood glucose levels dip during sleep. According to survey findings, 40 percent of respondents who have experienced hypoglycemia indicated that they experienced it during the night. Symptoms of nighttime hypoglycemia may include awakening in the middle of the night and nightmares.

“Each individual may experience symptoms differently, so it’s important to understand how your body reacts to low blood glucose and how best to treat it,” Evan shared.

Knowing How to Treat It

“If you find yourself experiencing hypoglycemia, consume 15-20 grams of glucose tablets or simple carbohydrates – like hard candies or a regular soda – and check blood glucose 15 minutes later,” Evan shared. “Once blood glucose levels return to normal, you may want to have a small snack if your next planned meal or snack is more than a couple hours away. If low blood glucose levels continue, call your healthcare provider.”

For additional tips on hypoglycemia, take a look at the tip sheet provided by AADE. I hope you found this information helpful and that you have gained a better understanding of identifying and treating hypoglycemia.

All the best,

Laura K.

Disclosures: Evan Sisson, PharmD, MHA, CDE*, received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.

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