Diabetes Self-Management Blog

The dangers of low blood glucose are familiar to most people who have Type 1 diabetes, but a new survey designed by the American College of Endocrinology shows that a majority of people with Type 2 diabetes have experienced low blood glucose as well. Roughly 24 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Low blood glucose, also known as hypoglycemia, is generally considered to be a blood glucose level below 70 mg/dl. Symptoms can include weakness, drowsiness, confusion, hunger, dizziness, paleness, headache, irritability, trembling, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and a cold, clammy feeling; in severe cases, hypoglycemia can lead to a loss of consciousness or coma. Common causes of hypoglycemia include skipped meals, intense exercise, and certain diabetes medicines, such as insulin, meglitinides (brand names Starlix and Prandin), and sulfonylureas (Diabinese, Diabeta, Glynase, Micronase, Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL, and Amaryl).

The online survey, which sought to determine people’s knowledge of and experiences with hypoglycemia, was conducted in November and December 2010 and looked at 2,530 adults who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. It found that 55% of those surveyed had experienced low blood glucose, with many of the episodes occurring during daily activities such as working, driving, and exercising. The survey also found that a portion of people with Type 2 diabetes was not familiar with the common causes of hypoglycemia.

Etie Moghissi, MD, FACP, FACE, vice president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, notes that “The survey shows that it’s important to inform patients about the causes, symptoms, and how to address hypoglycemia… Low blood sugar can be an alarming experience for people with Type 2 diabetes, and failure to recognize and treat symptoms in a timely manner can cause serious complications. Low blood sugar can be avoided, so it’s important for patients to know what can cause blood sugar levels to drop and talk with their doctor about how they can reduce the frequency of future episodes.”

Treatment for low blood glucose typically involves eating or drinking something with sugar in it, such as candy, juice, or glucose tablets or gel.

Fore more information about the survey, read the article “Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Lack Knowledge About Hypoglycemia.” And to learn more about what causes hypoglycemia and how you can prevent it, check out the article “Understanding Hypoglycemia” or see the survey’s affiliated Web site, BloodSugarBasics.com.

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