If you have pre-diabetes, gestational, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, understanding hypoglycemia is crucial to your safety and wellbeing.

I've often taken it for granted that all diabetics monitor their blood sugar regularly and know the symptoms of hypoglycemia and how to resolve it. But the realities I've faced during my pharmacy practice paint a totally different picture.

Hypoglycemia — a low blood sugar attack — has been defined, along with its symptoms and effective treatment, in a part article series that you might want to refer to for more details.

I was once working in a busy retail pharmacy and one early afternoon my technician alerted me of a woman who seemed to be in distress. So, I walked over to the counseling window and offered to help her. The woman, who seemed to be in her 30s, had her hand on her stomach, leaned forward on the counter and complained of nausea. I quickly started inquiring how long she’s had it and whether it could be a case of food poisoning or a possible pregnancy.

But it didn’t turn out to be either case. She mentioned that those bouts of nausea have been recurring periodically. As I am talking to her she seemed to become more distressed, sweating and about to lose balance leaning backward and forward. When I inquired of whether she was on any medications, she replied, “No, just insulin.”

My eyes widened in surprise that she didn’t recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia.

I hurried from inside the pharmacy to help her to a seat. Then as I was grabbing some glucose tablets from the diabetes section in front of the pharmacy, she told me that she took her insulin shot at lunch time but was in a hurry and didn’t finish most of her meal. I grabbed a glucose package off the shelf and got her to dissolve four or five glucose wafers in her mouth, back to back. As soon as she was on her third wafer, she was getting better and was returning back to normal. A few minutes later, she was completely fine.

I went on to explain that what she had was hypoglycemia and gave her tips on how to avoid it and resolve it in the future. Seeking to become informed about all aspects of diabetes can literally save your life.

Small Actions of The Week:

  1. Get familiar with the signs of hypoglycemia
  2. Have glucose on you at all times

Pharmacist George Tohme is author of Lifestyle Makeover for Diabetics and Pre-Diabetics.

Related Articles

Part 1: What Causes Hypoglycemia?

Part 2: What Are the Symptoms of Hypoglycemia?

Part 3: How to Treat Hypoglycemia Quickly and Effectively