Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is the most important side effect of diabetes treatment. Any blood sugar value of less than 70 mg /dl is called low sugar. For any doctor, the biggest challenge is in getting the sugar levels under good control, that is between 90 to 160 mg/dl at any given time of the day ,without letting it go below 70. This becomes more tricky in elderly people, because any giddiness and subsequent fall might land them in the hospital.
What are the symptoms of low sugar? Giddiness, palpitations, sweating, tremors or shivering of the hands, and extreme hunger are the common symptoms of low sugar. In elderly people confusion, incoherent and unrelated talking (blabbering), passing urine in their pants without their knowledge, are some symptoms that can occur. In rare cases, the patient can go into a hypoglycemic coma.
How Do We Minimize The Chances Of Hypoglycemia In Our Patients?
- Educating about low sugar. This is the single most important step in managing or avoiding low sugar. We educate patients regarding low sugar symptoms and several tips to avoid low sugar. Low sugar snacks for correcting, in case of hypoglycemia.
- Discussing with patients about the nature of their job (night shifts, for instance), and suggesting the most comfortable and right time to plan their meals
- Choosing the right foods. Foods that are digested slowly so that glucose is released slowly into the blood. This way we can avoid sudden spikes and sudden drops in blood sugar.
- Choosing the right medicines. Some medicines are very mild and have a lower tendency of causing low sugar, even if food is delayed. Such medicines work well for older people. But some medicines can be a little more potent, and have to be chosen for patients with very high blood sugar, atleast for a short period .The key is in choosing the right mix, like adding salt in a delicious dish. Not too little, not too much.