“I try not to be afraid of lows.”
If you’ve been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes recently, you know all too well that keeping tabs on your blood sugar levels can become an all-consuming process. Because the pancreas no longer produces its own insulin, you’ve got to master how to maintain a steady and appropriate level to keep a healthy amount of glucose in the blood stream. (Learn more about what type 1 diabetes is and how type 1 diabetes is treated here.)
Despite your best efforts, sometimes your blood sugar levels may drop too low. If blood glucose falls below 70 mg/dl, you may experience symptoms of hypoglycemia, like weakness, confusion, or blurred vision. (Here’s what you need to know about hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.) Dealing with low blood sugar ASAP can prevent further complications. Hypoglycemia can affect people with type 2 diabetes as well; it’s more common among people who treat their diabetes with insulin or certain other diabetes medications.
Your doctor likely gave you tips and advice for preventing and dealing with low blood sugar, but we asked type 1 diabetes patients how they prevent and treat low blood sugar. Here’s their best advice:
Keep glucose tablets everywhere
“The most powerful thing I do should I get low blood sugar is I keep glucose tablets in everything—in my purse, in my bag, in my knapsack, in my pouch, on my husband—so that if I go low, I’ve always got the remedy right there.
“There will always be times when it’s out of my hands, when I could go low no matter what I do. … I try not to beat myself up. I try to just learn from what’s happened and recognize that there are scary moments along the way.”
—Riva Greenberg, diagnosed at age 18
Don’t fear the lows (too much)
“I try not to be afraid of lows. You have to healthy fear of them [because] you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you don’t have access to taking care of yourself, but I can’t live my life afraid of lows, but I do have to be prepared for them.
“I wear a continuous glucose monitor. It is the single most important factor in living with type 1 diabetes. I can’t live the lifestyle that I live without having access and display of the number that I’m at.”
—Liz Van Voorhis, diagnosed at age 15
Try a monitor
“One thing that’s really put my mind at ease in particular has been continuous glucose monitoring because I’ve set my monitor to a point where it will actually alert me when I’m starting to go low. My concern about going low and going hypoglycemic during the course of my day [and] my night has really been minimized because of that technology.”
—Craig Kasper, diagnosed at age 27
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No matter what you do to try and
not to have low blood sugar,
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sometimes you probably will.
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Well, the most powerful thing I do,
should I get low blood sugar,
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is I keep glucose tablets in everything.
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In my purse, in my bag, in my knapsack,
in my pouch, on my husband.
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So that if I go low,
I've always got the remedy right there.
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But there will always be times
when it's out of my hands,
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when I could go low no matter what I do.
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A miscalculation of how many
carbohydrates I ate, who knows?
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I try not to beat myself up,
I try to just learn from what's happened.
00:00:48,711 --> 00:00:52,150
And recognize that there
are scary moments along the way.
00:00:52,150 --> 00:00:55,210
I try not to be afraid of lows.
00:00:55,210 --> 00:00:58,660
You have to have a healthy fear of them,
00:00:58,660 --> 00:01:02,530
Because you don't want to put yourself in
a position where you don't have access to
00:01:02,530 --> 00:01:03,660
taking care of yourself.
00:01:03,660 --> 00:01:06,470
But I can't live my life afraid of those.
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But I do need to be prepared for them,
so I wear a continuous glucose monitor.
00:01:10,620 --> 00:01:15,140
It is the single most important factor
in living with type I diabetes.
00:01:15,140 --> 00:01:18,840
I can't live the lifestyle that I live,
without having access and
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display of the number that I'm at.
00:01:21,380 --> 00:01:23,645
You cannot affect what you can't measure.
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And so if it's in front of my face,
and I have to look at it,
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I'm going to react to it.
00:01:29,357 --> 00:01:32,888
And I've got my dirty little low secrets.
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If I've got a Sunkist soda and Nutter
Butters in my hand, it's a bad situation.
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But that's my go to, dirty secret,
low blood sugar fix.
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I think it's probably one of
the biggest concerns that I face,
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is going low.
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Whether it's during
the middle of the night,
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when I might not be aware necessarily.
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Or if I'm exercising, or
if I'm just out and about,
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just kind of going about my day.
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The one thing that's really put my mind
at ease in particular has been continuous
00:02:01,733 --> 00:02:02,780
00:02:02,780 --> 00:02:07,561
Because I've set my monitor to a point
where it will actually alert me when
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I'm starting to go low.
00:02:09,191 --> 00:02:13,438
So my concern about going low and going
hypoglycemic during the course of my day,
00:02:13,438 --> 00:02:15,499
and even during the course of my night,
00:02:15,499 --> 00:02:18,452
has really been minimized
because of that technology.
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Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association, 2015. (Accessed on February 27, 2018 at http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-low-blood.html.)
Living with type 1 diabetes. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association, 2016. (Accessed on February 27, 2018 at http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/living-with-type-1-diabetes.html.)