Diabetes Self-Management Blog

It was as if somebody had dumped a bucket of cold water on me, but there was no water and no bucket. Instead, I was freezing and sweating — the result of a blood glucose in the 30’s. I checked again. Yep. That’s where it was, all right. Dang!

About that time, my Sweet Baboo walked into the room. “Good morning! How are…” then stopped and looked again. “What can I get you?” he continued, with a bit more urgency.

“Cereal,” I said in a barely audible voice.

“What kind of…” he continued before waving his words away. “OK, OK. Cereal,” he muttered before leaving and coming back with a bowl of something-or-other. I did remember that Mikey liked it. (Depending on your age, you may not remember that commercial.)

Thankfully — I mean, I felt like crap — I dug my spoon into the cereal. After about three bites…I dropped the bowl. He brought me a bowl of the other kind of cereal that was on the counter. I dropped it, too. Then I dropped the juice that arrived after two attempts with the cereal. Fortunately after I’d chugged a lot of it down.

The next morning? Same thing. Low BGs. Dropped cereal. This time, however, Hubby’s second choice was jelly beans. They’re not as messy when you drop them. (Think wet cereal and milk on a dark blue carpet). Also, the cleaning lady wasn’t there the second morning to shoo him out the door and let her take care of the mess. Under those circumstances, I would have chosen jelly beans the FIRST time!

Many times I opt for cereal to raise my BGs. It works for me. Ironically, I usually go for a bowl of “Life” cereal. It sogs up nicely (I don’t like crispy cereal when I’m low) and Mikey likes it.

Oh, yeah. The “irony” part. Did you know that hypoglycemia can kill you? Oh, yes it can. Even us Type 2s, according to some fairly recent research.

All this time, I thought “they” wanted us to avoid hypoglycemia because it could make you do stupid things. Like, oh, eating dinner with a cocktail fork because you couldn’t commit math well enough to count carbs. (It made sense at the time.)

And, of course, you didn’t want to be out there driving a car while under the influence of too much insulin.

As it turns out, you might not want to be under the influence of too much insulin for a prolonged period of time…um, period.

I’ve had a couple of friends with Type 1 fail to wake up in the morning. In both cases, they were fine when they went to bed. In both cases, there was no indication anything had happened during the night to cause death. The medical community just scratched its collective head and the phrase “dead-in-bed syndrome” offered some kind of explanation.

Dr. Richard Hellman, an endocrinologist in North Kansas City, MO, and former president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), notes that around 10% of people with diabetes who died before the age of 40 were found dead in bed.

As I recall reading (and, no, I can’t find it), the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) played a role in helping to figure out what was going on when a dead-in-bed victim appeared who had been wearing a CGM. It appears that prolonged hypoglycemia can lead to cardiac problems.

Type 2s — we’re not exempt. Recent studies have shown that people with Type 2 diabetes also can have nighttime prolonged hypoglycemia. Also, while it’s less frequent than in people who take insulin, use of sulfonylureas (oral medicines that cause the pancreas to make more insulin) can be a factor, Dr. Hellman says.

Common sulfonylureas include chlorpropamide (brand name Diabinese), glimepiride (Amaryl), glipizide (Glucotrol), and glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase, Micronase). They’re also available as combination drugs.

Aside from the cardiac problems, other factors include age, with Dr. Hellman noting, “people are less able to bring up a low blood glucose as they age.” Also, he says, frequent and prolonged hypoglycemia can present difficulties in getting blood glucose levels back up to normal.

What to do? If your body doesn’t recognize the signs of hypoglycemia, ask your doctor or CDE what steps you can take. Get a CGM if you’re able to afford one. There is a petition asking Medicare to cover CGMs. I’ll try to find that information and post it. (Just remembered that one.) The CGM will alarm if you go lower than a number you’ve set. I don’t always hear the alarms, however. Perhaps I need to put my CGM in a glass.

Above all, don’t worry yourself. Life’s too short. If a lot of people were dying from dead-in-bed, there would be a lot more information out there about it. Wouldn’t there?


  1. To partly answer your question “how low can we go?” see this article:


    “Glucose concentrations as low as 0.5 mmoles/liter (9 mg/100 ml) failed to precipitate hypoglycemic reactions.”

    This study is old (1972) and has only been cited 4 times according to pubmed. Personally, I am not quite sure what to make of it. I am a type II and have seen fasting BG readings as low as 61 mg/dl with no symptoms but that is no where near what you reported. I am on a very low carb diet and have been in ketosis for months so my brain may be adapted to burning ketons. Assuming of course that this study applies. Type II’s have a broken metabolic system so we may not have the same response as non diabetics to a very low carb diet. I do wish that there was more research in this area.

    Some key quotes:

    “Under normal circumstances the energy requirements of the brain are supplied almost exclusively by oxidation of glucose. In prolonged fasting, the brain adapts to the reduction in available glucose and to the abundance of ketones by an enhanced uptake.”

    “Satisfactory evidence for such an adaptation had to be sought in subjects who had actually experienced symptomatic hypoglycemic reactions before fasting but proved insensitive to the stress of equally severe hypoglycemic episodes after fasting.”

    Posted by OldTech |
  2. Not necessarily, surprising how many primary care doctors don’t really know that much about Diabetes all they want you to do is take the pills they are requested to give you in their protocols and not be a nuisance.

    Posted by Patricia Pursel |

Post a Comment

Note: All comments are moderated and there may be a delay in the publication of your comment. Please be on-topic and appropriate. Do not disclose personal information. Be respectful of other posters. Only post information that is correct and true to your knowledge. When referencing information that is not based on personal experience, please provide links to your sources. All commenters are considered to be nonmedical professionals unless explicitly stated otherwise. Promotion of your own or someone else's business or competing site is not allowed: Sharing links to sites that are relevant to the topic at hand is permitted, but advertising is not. Once submitted, comments cannot be modified or deleted by their authors. Comments that don't follow the guidelines above may be deleted without warning. Such actions are at the sole discretion of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Comments are moderated Monday through Friday by the editors of DiabetesSelfManagement.com. The moderators are employees of Madavor Media, LLC., and do not report any conflicts of interest. A privacy policy setting forth our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of certain information relating to you and your use of this Web site can be found here. For more information, please read our Terms and Conditions.

Type 2 Diabetes
Discovering I Had Type 2 Diabetes (10/17/14)
Low-Carb Diet Improves Quality of Life in Type 2 Diabetes (10/07/14)
Long Hours at Low-Income Jobs Linked to Increased Diabetes Risk (10/02/14)
Metformin Study Currently Recruiting (08/19/14)

Type 1 Diabetes
Students With Diabetes Now Accepting 2015 Internship Applications (09/22/14)
We're Getting There…Eventually (09/12/14)
BMX Camp for Kids With Type 1 Diabetes (07/31/14)
Type 1 Youth Canoe Trips (07/14/14)

Low Blood Glucose
Antibiotics Linked to Lows in People Taking Certain Diabetes Drugs (09/11/14)
Did Somebody Say Diabetes Is Dull? BWAAA-ha-ha-ha-ha (06/10/14)
Almost 20 Years… (05/15/14)



Disclaimer of Medical Advice: You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs. The opinions and other information contained in the blog posts and comments do not reflect the opinions or positions of the Site Proprietor.

Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring — Part 3: Smart Monitoring

10 Keys to Long-Term Weight Loss

Take Your Best Shot: Stay Up to Date on Vaccines

Complete table of contents
Subscription questions