Definition of Hypoglycemia

Lori Berard, RN, CDE, Diabetes Educator, discusses treatment for hypoglycemia.

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Lori Berard, RN, CDE, Diabetes Educator, discusses treatment for hypoglycemia.
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Featuring Lori Berard, RN, CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator)

Duration: 2 minutes, 42 seconds

Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is defined by most associations as a glucose level of less than or equal to 3.9 millimoles per liter or 70 milligrams per deciliter.

So basically what we understand is that for people who are treated with insulin or an insulin secretagogue drugs - drugs that ask your pancreas to make more insulin - these are drugs that can put you at risk of hypoglycemia.

It's important that you understand what hypoglycemia is, how you feel and what causes it. So symptoms of hypoglycemia in the early stage would be things like trembling, shaky, weakness, but when you move on to having a moderate event you might feel confusion, agitation, inability to concentrate.

The treatment of hypoglycemia is 15 grams of carbohydrate, wait 15 minutes, retest your blood glucose. If it isn't above 3.9 or 70  you need to retreat your blood sugar and test again in 15 minutes.

What is also very important about hypoglycemia episodes or low blood sugars is that after you've had one and you've treated it, it's very imp that you follow it up with either a sizable snack or the next meal if it's not too far away.

And the last thing that I think is very important to understand about hypoglycemia events is what causes it, and typically that's pretty easy. It's either too much medication, not enough food, or unplanned or increased activity.

So thinking about what might have caused that hypoglycemia event that you've had will help you to prevent it from happening in the future. So we like to remind people being 5 or 90 to drive is appropriate.

Testing before you operate a motor vehicle, making sure that your blood sugar is in that level, you're safe to go. Always carry the treatment of hypoglycemia with you in the car. You would also want to make sure that you have your blood glucose meter with you, and again this is if you're at risk of having hypoglycemia.

The other thing that's very important to understand is that if you're a professional driver, what the legislation in your area is around that. For example in certain places if you're a professional driver your blood sugar needs to be over 6, or 108, to be able to operate a professional vehicle such as a school bus or an ambulance or a fire truck.

Understanding hypoglycemia or low blood sugar is for your benefit. We want to keep you safe and those around you safe. When hypoglycemia progresses from mild to moderate you can experience confusion, and that can put you at risk.

What's really important is to understand why hypoglycemia occurs, how to treat it and most importantly how to prevent it from happening.

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Presenter: Lori Berard, Nurse, Winnipeg, MB

Local Practitioners: Nurse

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.