May 25, 2017

Handling an Insulin Overdose

Do you use insulin and have you experienced an episode of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose)? Have you had cold sweats, trembling hands, or a sense of confusion? These are just some of the symptoms of hypoglycemia and often your doctor will not mention this when you start on insulin therapy.

Hypoglycemia happens to many people with diabetes that are using insulin or a couple of oral medication. It can be serious and even deadly.

The following are several things can put too much insulin in your system. It most often happens when you:
#1. Misread the syringes or vials: This is easy to do if you are unfamiliar with a new product.

#2. Use the wrong type of insulin: Let's say you usually take 30 units of long-acting and 10 units of short-acting insulin. It's easy to get them mixed up.

#3. Take insulin, but don't eat: Rapid-acting and short-acting insulin injections should be taken just before or with meals. Your blood sugar rises after meals. Taking rapid-acting or short-acting insulin without eating could lower your glucose to a dangerous level.

#4. Inject insulin in an arm or leg just before exercise: Physical activity can lower your blood glucose levels and change how your body absorbs insulin. Inject in an area that isn’t affected by your exercise.

Please learn the symptoms of an insulin overdose as this could save your life.
If you have low blood glucose because of an insulin overdose, you may have:
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Extreme hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sweating or clammy skin
  • Trembling hands

If your blood glucose levels continue to fall, you could have seizures or pass out.
Learn what to do if you have an insulin overdose to take care of it before you cannot. Don’t panic. Most insulin overdoses can be treated at home.
Follow these steps if you are able:

#1. Check your blood sugar. You’ll need to know where you’re starting from.

#2. Drink one-half cup of regular soda or sweetened fruit juice, and eat a hard candy or have glucose paste, tablets, or gel.

#3. If you skipped a meal, eat something now. Something with 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates should raise your blood sugar.

#4. Rest. Get off your feet or take a break.

#5. Recheck your blood glucose after 15 or 20 minutes. If it's still low, take another 15 to 20 grams of a quick-acting sugar, and eat something if you can.

#6. Pay attention to how you feel for the next few hours. If you still have symptoms, check your glucose again an hour after eating. Keep snacking if your sugar is low.

#7. Get medical help if your sugar level stays low after 2 hours or if your symptoms don’t get better.

#8 Don't worry about pushing your sugar too high if it's only for a short time. One high level won't hurt you, but a very low level can.

#9. If you're unconscious or too confused or are having seizures, those around you will need to take control. Give your family and friends these instructions:
  • If you lose consciousness, they should call 911 immediately.
  • They may need to inject you with something called glucagon. It’s an insulin antidote. If you’re prone to low blood sugar, ask your doctor if you should have glucagon on hand at home.
  • If you're alert enough to follow instructions, they should give you sweet juice to drink.
  • If your symptoms don't steadily improve during the next hour, they should call 911.

The following are things you can do to prevent an overdose:

#1. Keep a consistent schedule. It’ll make it much easier for you to stay on track.

#2. Eat something at every mealtime. Even if you're not hungry, have some real food, a serving of carrots (cooked or raw), a glass of whole (not skim) milk, or a small serving of fruit. Never skip meals when you've taken insulin.

#3. Be prepared. Expect that you'll have insulin complications at some point. Pack hard candies in your bag and your partner's. Keep some in the car and in your travel bag, too.

#4. Make sure friends and family know the way you react to hypoglycemia. It’ll help them take action if your low blood sugar levels make you confused.

#6. Wear a medical alert bracelet. Make sure it says you use insulin. This is a most important thing to have on you if you live alone or your partner is away on business.

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