Preventing Low Blood Sugar: Tips from Type 1 Diabetics

“I try not to be afraid of lows.”

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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