What Does a Low Blood Sugar Feel Like?

Despite so many advances in both medicine and technology, people living with type 1 diabetes still have a higher premature mortality rate than the general population. Severe hypoglycemia can be fatal and accounts for up to 10% of deaths among young people with type 1 diabetes. Being able to detect the symptoms of a low blood sugar is crucial to taking action and bringing your blood sugar back into the normal range before it becomes an emergency, life-threatening situation

Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, means that your body does not have enough sugar in the bloodstream to fuel all of your body’s cells. Typically a low blood sugar is defined as anything below 70 mg/dL (3.8 mmol/L). The ill-effects of low blood sugar can be scary and some can be permanent. They range from confusion to seizure, to coma, and can even result in death. 

One of the most popular questions I get asked personally and see circulating in the diabetes online community is parents asking those living with diabetes–what does a blood sugar feel like? For a parent, this information can be so helpful in avoiding a very dangerous situation. It is also important for those of us living with diabetes to be attuned to our bodies and recognize the symptoms before they become more pronounced and severe. The quicker we can act and treat our low the less of an interruption this will also be on our, or our child’s,  daily lives. 

I asked our friends in the diabetes online community if they could do their best to describe how they feel when having a low blood sugar. Remember, everyone’s experience is different and how you may react can depend on how fast or slow you are dropping. It can also vary each time so make sure to stay on your toes and stay vigilant!

“I feel like I’m in the Matrix, everything is slowed down. I feel super floaty as if I am drunk and all I can think about is how sweaty and hot I am.”- Jesse, 28, NY

“Mostly I don’t feel them but when I do it’s like having run a marathon while having a panic attack followed by exhaustion.” – Jessica, age 32, PA

“Normally when I’m low I get the chills and cold sweats. I will be drenched in sweat. People around me notice I get a little hyper, especially with my talking. I was having bad lows in my sleep for a while and would wake up to someone putting juice or soda down my throat. My wife could tell I was low due to the massive amount of sweat.” – Bradley, 34, TX

“Weak. Fatigue. Dry mouth. Sweaty. Grumpy. Hungry.” – Briana, 26, UT

“It feels like someone is deflating your energy like a pool float.” – Matt, 25, NC

“I honestly feel drunk. Not the ‘fun’ drunk but the confused and dizzy kind. Plus, it’s like I’m having a hot flash. And sometimes I get that ‘sense of impending doom’ where it’s like ‘omg I think I might actually die this time’.”- Abby, 27, OH 

“If it isn’t a terrible low, I just feel a little off, woozy and shaky. A bad low will make me sweaty and tingly and then confusion sets in. Once I realize I am low, all my symptoms get magnified. I can feel my heart race and the drops of sweat build upon every inch of my skin. Sometimes this comes along with mild panic attack symptoms.” – Vonda, 21, NZ

“It makes my knees go weak. Also, my depth perception gets distorted.”- Maria, 38, TN

“It is like my whole equilibrium gets thrown off and it feels like I am on the very top of a rollercoaster right before you come down. Other than that, I feel sweaty, shaky, disoriented, and sometimes numb around my lips and tongue. I am also irritable, emotional and a little bit snippy.” – Allison, 35, TX

“I always compare it to being outside all day, without eating anything, and trying to walk home uphill.” – Jim, 35, PA

“Every low is a little different, but overall it feels like circuits in my brain are breaking, the lower I drop the more broken circuits there are. Hypoglycemia starves your brain, so you’re bound to feel weird!” – Paige, 29, CO

“Rapid drops cause sensory overload. Light, sound, touch become overwhelming inputs. Panic sets in, inability to form coherent thoughts, cold sweats then rage. By this time fight or flight has kicked in and I usually remove myself from other people and prefer to stay in the dark with earphones in but no sound playing until my blood sugar returns to baseline.” – Rodney, age 37, TX

“I have too much energy and craziness when I’m low. I feel invincible and have no shame.” – Jeroen, 24, Belgium

“Like those music videos where the singer is in regular motion when everyone around them is in super fast speed. Brain fog, illogical and irrational thoughts. Like my limbs weigh 100 lbs. each and moving them causes me to sweat.” – Nicole, 40, NC

“My first symptom is always that feeling when you’re on a plane that has taken off and it drops a bit and feels like the bottom has dropped out of your skull. I don’t know how else to describe it.” – Cat, 35, NZ

“Feeling like your body is shutting down.”- Lauren, 22, WY

“When I am just slightly low I feel mostly shaky. As I go lower I get sweaty, irritable, lose my vision and can’t make decisions. Bad lows feel like your brain is melting and then it hits that impending doom feeling where it’s like ‘eat to stay alive’.” – Nicole, 31, DE

“A bad low feels like donating blood then running a marathon.” – Eustacia, 42, CO

“I start feeling hungry and tired if it’s a slow approaching low. I feel sweaty, zonked out, and if I start seeing spots, it’s a fast dropping one.” – Cally, 39, CA

“It feels like I’ve spun around really fast (like little kids do) and then suddenly stopped.” – Lela, 41, NY

Knowing how your body and brain react to low blood sugars can help you to correct them quickly and avoid a scary situation. For parents of children living with type one diabetes, it is so important to know what signs to look for and asking your child to describe how they feel will be helpful in detecting lows. 

While we can do our best to identify and treat low blood sugars, there can be circumstances out of our control. Making sure we are always prepared for these events is key in managing our own or our loved one’s diabetes. There are several glucagon formulations on the market right now and everyone should have one on hand, just in case.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

100 Things You Can Do This Year for a Better Life with Diabetes

The New Year is here and many of us are hoping to make those resolutions stick. Keep in mind that there are many ways you can influence change, and some steps you can take may seem small but are very effective nonetheless. Please note that anytime you make changes to your diet or exercise routine, it’s also a good idea to check in with your doctor and plan ahead for any necessary medication adjustments.

Without further ado, check out this list of 100 simple things you can try to do this year for a better life with diabetes:

  1. Change your lancet.
  2. Eat lower carb.
  3. Take the stairs.
  4. Join a gym.
  5. See your eye doctor.
  6. Try a new vegetable recipe.
  7. Pack your lunch.
  8. Cut back on alcohol.
  9. Quit smoking.
  10. Invest in comfortable shoes.
  11. Buy a scale to keep accountable.
  12. Check your blood pressure.
  13. Stand while working.
  14. Go for a walk after lunch.
  15. Give gardening a try.
  16. Grocery shop the perimeter.
  17. Stretch.
  18. Keep a blood sugar log.
  19. Try a new diabetes app.
  20. Consider a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
  21. Check your blood sugar more often.
  22. Don’t reuse your needle/syringe.
  23. Use alcohol swabs for injections and site changes.
  24. Read a book about diabetes.
  25. Join a diabetes support group.
  26. Choose green veggies over starches.
  27. Visit your endocrinologist.
  28. Do basal testing.
  29. Track your cycle.
  30. Count carbohydrates accurately.
  31. Try a half-unit syringe or pen.
  32. Consider trying an insulin pump.
  33. Ride a bike.
  34. Consider getting a pet.
  35. Eat more real food.
  36. Cut back on dessert.
  37. Try a flour substitute.
  38. Try a sugar substitute.
  39. Track your macronutrients.
  40. Track your steps.
  41. Educate about diabetes.
  42. Start a fundraiser.
  43. Attend a diabetes event.
  44. Sign up for our newsletter.
  45. Participate in diabetes surveys.
  46. Treat lows only with glucose.
  47. Eat consistent meals.
  48. Consider intermittent fasting.
  49. Ditch the foods that don’t work well.
  50. Invest in quality proteins.
  51. Eat more plants.
  52. Eat less processed foods.
  53. Ice skate.
  54. Try canoeing.
  55. Go hiking.
  56. Spend more time in nature.
  57. Shovel snow.
  58. Go swimming.
  59. Try ziplining or tree-to-tree.
  60. Get your A1c checked.
  61. Lower the high alert on your CGM.
  62. Eat more probiotics.
  63. Get more fiber.
  64. Swap juice and soda for more water.
  65. Sign up for a “couch to 5k” program.
  66. Jog.
  67. Go rock-climbing.
  68. Rotate your injection sites.
  69. Change your pump-site regularly.
  70. Change your CGM sensor regularly.
  71. Wear your CGM more.
  72. Review your CGM report regularly.
  73. Get a primary care physician.
  74. Get your flu shot.
  75. Figure out if you’re a moderator or abstainer.
  76. Jump rope.
  77. Meditate.
  78. Start a journal.
  79. Keep a food log.
  80. Create a 504 plan for your child.
  81. Speak with your child’s school about non-food related celebrations.
  82. Advocate for yourself or your child better.
  83. Ditch the scale if you’re obsessing.
  84. Take before photos (you will want them!).
  85. Figure out what self-care means to you and practice it daily.
  86. Seek out a friend or therapist if you feel you need help.
  87. Give back to the community by volunteering your time.
  88. Try a sport or activity you never tried before.
  89. Have more grace with yourself.
  90. Surround yourself with positive influences.
  91. Try to see the big picture more often.
  92. Create a healthy work/life balance.
  93. Appreciate the little things.
  94. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
  95. Check in with friends who may need it.
  96. Spend more time with family.
  97. Take the time to thank others and let them know they are appreciated.
  98. Take more deep breaths.
  99. Target things you feel you can change and start with those.
  100. Remember to be grateful for another year around the sun.

Do you want to add anything that has worked well for you? Please share your tips in the comments below.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Review: Genteel Lancing Device

Regularly checking blood glucose levels is an integral part of optimizing diabetes management, and in particular for patients who use insulin. However, frequent finger pricks can be uncomfortable and even painful for some, especially for children, which may be a deterrent to regular blood glucose testing. Genteel is the only currently-available lancing device on the market that is FDA-approved for both finger and alternative site testing and uses a unique technology to minimize the pain of finger pricks for blood sample collection.

Who They Are

Genteel was founded by Dr. Christoher Jacobs, a biomedical engineer. A friend of his was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and expressed the challenges of the condition, including the pain he experienced from frequent testing. As a result, Dr. Jacobs set out to develop a device that would minimize the pain of obtaining a blood sample, and the Genteel device was born.

What It Is

The Genteel lancing products make use of several ways to minimize the pain of fingersticks. They allow users to select a variable “contact tip” size to minimize the penetration of the lancet under the skin. Also, the products make use of vacuum technology to help draw out a drop of blood for testing automatically, instead of having to squeeze the site.

Image by Genteel

There are two products available — the Genteel Lancing Device and the Genteel Plus Lancing Device. The basic lancing device is only compatible with the provided “butterfly touch” lancets, whereas the upgraded version is compatible with many other lancet types.

Check out the video below that explains exactly how the device works:

My Review

Personally, I found the device to be a bit elaborate and not very practical in terms of ease of use. When the product was first brought to the market, it was reviewed by Ginger Vieira, and I agree with much of her commentary regarding the product size, appearance, and lack of discreteness in use.

However, I can confirm that obtaining a blood sample was not painful for me, whether sampling from the fingertip or from the alternate site (my palm). While I still felt the contact of the lancet, it was definitely not painful and was certainly much more comfortable than many of the fingersticks I have experienced in almost 13 years of testing my blood sugar on a daily basis.

I can see that for some patients, for example, small children, this device may help to eliminate the fear and discomfort of checking blood sugar levels, and hopefully help the user achieve more frequent tests, and as a result, better glycemic control. The stickers included for decorating the lancing device are sure to be a hit with the kids, too.

The products aren’t cheap though! The base model costs $49.99 and the upgraded version $99.99.

Where to Buy

Both the basic and plus models can be purchased directly from the Genteel website. You can read more about each device before making the decision here:

Conclusions

While the Genteel lancing device may not be everyone’s favorite choice, it certainly helps with comfortably and painlessly obtaining a blood sample for testing, which might be a huge consideration for some patients, and in particular, for small children.

Have you tried Genteel products? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

STUDY: High Blood Glucose Tied to Anemia

Anemia (a low red blood cell count or inadequately functioning red blood cells) can have numerous symptoms and negative health effects. Red blood cells act to circulate oxygen to tissues and rely on the iron-rich hemoglobin protein to achieve this. This is why an iron deficiency can be one cause of anemia. Numerous other factors, […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

10 Dos and Don’ts of the Sensor & Site Life

If you’re new to continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or pump technology, you may have a few questions up your sleeve: can I go in the hottub with it on? What happens in extreme humidity? What about sex? Welcome to the world of diabetes technology! We’ve asked all the hard questions, so you don’t have to. […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

What Do “Healthy” Blood Glucose Levels Really Look Like?

What is normal blood glucose? In children and adults, ideally, blood sugar levels are tightly-regulated to stay in a narrow range that’s optimal for physiological function. What are these levels, and how much of a glucose excursion is “normal”? Notably, there are some transient exceptions to the accepted “normal range”. In particular, women tend to […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Best Apps to Manage Blood Sugar

With everyone going high-tech these days, it seems almost intuitive that our blood sugar management would make its way to a screen (remember the days of pen and paper log books?!). Measuring and tracking your blood sugar is easier than ever with the help of apps, right on your smartphone. Here are our top picks […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Diabetes is Not Unpredictable: A Troubleshooting Guide

I have been living with type 1 diabetes for over a decade and have experienced my fair share of learning experiences in diabetes management. One tenet that I often come across in the diabetes online community is, “diabetes is just so unpredictable!” In my early years of diabetes management, I somewhat sympathized with the sentiment. […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

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