May 10, 2015

Preventing an Insulin Overdose – Part 2

If you happen to push your blood glucose level too high, be concerned, but don't panic, as if it is only for a short time, it will not cause damage. However, a very low blood glucose level can cause damage. Again, I must emphasize that it is necessary to educate family members of actions needed if you become unconscious, very confused, or have seizures. I would urge anyone on insulin or the oral medication mentioned in the last blog to give family or friends the following instructions:
  • If you lose consciousness, they should call 911 immediately.
  • They may need to inject you with glucagon, an insulin antidote. If you’re prone to low blood sugar, ask your doctor if you should have glucagon on hand at home. This is important and should not be ignored.
  • If you're alert enough to follow instructions, they should give you sweet juice to drink.
  • If your symptoms don't steadily improve over the next hour, they should call 911.
To prevent or avoid hypoglycemic episodes, for oral medications:
  1. Know when to take a medication.
  2. If you are not feeling well and will not be eating does the doctor recommend not taking the medication?
  3. Is there a blood glucose level that the doctor would have you take the medication?
If you are using insulin, consider the following:
  1. Try to keep a consistent routine or schedule.
  2. Eat something at every mealtime. Even if you are not hungry, have some bread, a glass of milk, or a small serving of fruit. Because everyone insists you eat, they also insist taking your insulin to force you to eat. If you are ill or sick, food may not stay down; not injecting fast acting insulin would be your only choice. This should be based on your blood glucose level, as sometimes your illness will increase your blood glucose levels.
  3. Be prepared for all possibilities by keeping glucose tablets or hard candies available in your bag and your partner's. Keep some in the car, at work, at home, and your travel bag.
  4. Educate friends and family how you react to hypoglycemia and how to react and take action if you are confused or show signs of hypoglycemia. Calling 911 may be the only choice.
  5. Wear a medical alert bracelet or other alert jewelry that says you use insulin and are a person with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Many people can learn from reading Dr. Bernstein's book, Diabetes Solutions, and this is true for all people using insulin or oral medications that can cause hypoglycemia.

One word of warning, all oral medications in combination with insulin can cause hypoglycemia. Often the dose size of oral medications needs to be reduced when insulin is in the mix. Talking to your doctor is always a good thing.

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