Diabetic reactions, which usually occur as hypoglycemia, can pose a severe health risk for people having diabetes. A diabetic reaction can happen to anyone (having diabetes) irrespective of (apparently) having a well managed diabetes. Even though symptoms may appear mild, you should not ignore them as they can turn to be dangerous, even fatal.
Doing everything alone can be impractical and you should always enable others around you to help you as much as possible. Prompt action could be the most important thing required to treat a diabetic reaction, should it occur.
Treating Diabetic Reaction
Eating a Form of Sugar
The best method to treat a mild or moderate hypoglycemia is to increase blood sugar level by consuming a form of sugar. Taking glucose tablets, eating a few hard candies or drinking a cup of fruit juice may help elevate the blood glucose level and control hypoglycemia. You can discuss with your doctor (in advance) for the snacks which can quickly elevate blood sugar levels.
Low blood sugar episodes can be treated by consuming 15 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate. Some useful inclusions are one tablespoon of sugar, honey or corn syrup, two large sugar cubes mixed with water, half cup of regular soda and a cup of milk. After consuming the snack, wait for 15 minutes and check your blood sugar level. If the level is not high enough, have another snack dose and repeat checking of blood sugar level after 15 minutes of waiting. This can be done till the blood sugar reaches desired range.
A glucagon rescue kit can also help in treating diabetic reactions. Glucagon, which is a natural hormone, rapidly raises the level of sugar in the blood. As an SOS, glucagon may also be injected before emergency/medical help approaches. This can help prevent further complications and promote recovery.
In worst case when you lose consciousness, you will require prompt medical intervention. Severe hypoglycemia may demand glucagon injection. Your family members and associates should learn to give you a glucagon injection. It helps to keep a record of (date, time, etc.) your reaction and the intervention you implement. Your doctor can determine a pattern and adjust your medications to the best suitability. You should be careful if you have multiple unexplained hypoglycemic reactions in a week.
For people experiencing frequent drops in blood sugar levels, it is important to balance diet, avoid simple sugars and consume frequent but small meals throughout the day. Low blood sugar caused before eating (fasting hypoglycemia) can be dealt with by having a snack before going to bed. A protein or a complex carbohydrate snack can be better.
There is a possibility that excessive insulin is being taken which peaks toward the evening to morning hours. You can decrease your insulin dose to take care of this condition. You can also change the time when your last dose of insulin is given.
Handling an SOS
Diabetic reactions can cause life-threatening situations like having low blood sugar reaction while driving. If you can sense symptoms, make yourself as safe as possible.
Get off the road and consume a sugary food (which should essentially be with you always). Take sufficient time to determine your health status. Eat a protein and carbohydrate snack like peanut butter cracker. If possible, inform someone close by to assist you reach safe place.
If you have hyperglycemia, check blood glucose level and urine (or blood) for ketones. People having hyperglycemia can be given extra water or a non sugary drink. They should also have unrestricted access to the bathroom.
Hyperglycemia can be treated through fluid replacement done orally or intravenously so that you are rehydrated. By providing fluids, you can make up for the loss arising out of excessive urination. It also helps to dilute the excess sugar in the blood. Electrolyte replacement is also done to treat hyperglycemia. This can keep your heart, nerve and muscles functioning normal. Insulin therapy can supplement fluid replacement and electrolyte replacement.
There are some more ways to treat hyperglycemia. These can be considered as long term treatments.
Diabetics should follow an eating plan which suits their individual needs. If you suspect hyperglycemia or have experienced it before, eat less of sugary food items. Exercise regularly to control blood sugar level; but do not exercise if there are ketones in your urine. This can raise your blood sugar even more.
Your doctor can advice or adjust medication if you have frequent episodes of hyperglycemia. You may switch to a changed dosage or timing of medication.
Insulin adjustment can also help treat hyperglycemia. However, this can be a temporary measure.