What to do when you have hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose)
High blood glucose levels can be dangerous. Learn more about why this is, and what to do about it
A hypo is when your blood glucose is too low. It’s also known as:
Hypo- is from the Greek word for “under” or “less”. Hyper is from the Greek word for “above” or “to excess”. A hypo is usually defined as blood glucose levels below 4 mmol/L.
When there’s not enough glucose (a form of sugar) in your blood, your cells can’t get enough fuel and so can’t function properly. People with Type 2 diabetes who take medication to lower their blood glucose may be at higher risk of hypoglycaemia (a hypo) – as will people with Type 1 diabetes.
One of the real troubles with hypos is that low blood glucose can affect your thinking – you can quickly get quite confused and this can make it difficult to take the right action at the right time. It’s a good idea to have someone around who knows you have Type 2 diabetes, and knows to look out for the signs of a hypo.
“Occasionally, I have to get my wife to help me as I get a bit confused and, whilst I know something is wrong, I cannot work out, by myself, what to do about it.”
Mr RE, diabetes patient (aged 66), Newcastle
Symptoms of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) can include:
Think your blood glucose might be dropping too low? Here’s what to do right now:
If you notice any of these signs:
Be sure to act fast
Be sure to get help
Anger or irritability
Lack of concentration
|EAT or drink 15-20 g of sugar:|
– glucose tablets
– 3 or 4 Jelly babies
– sugary drinks like Coke
– fruit juice
|Call someone nearby|
Phone a friend or family member
Call your diabetes care team
If you have a blood glucose meter at home and think you might be having a hypo:
When you have Type 2 diabetes, it’s more likely that you’ll have high blood glucose levels rather than levels that are too low. However, hypos do still happen in Type 2 diabetes – and it may be more common than you think.
Diabetes UK did a survey of almost 2,000 people in 2009, and found that just about half (49%) of the people they asked with Type 2 diabetes had experienced at least one hypo in a 2 week period – and that didn’t even include the people who inject insulin.
When you’ve got Type 2 diabetes, your blood glucose can drop too low for a number of reasons:
If you test your blood glucose regularly, you’ll have a better idea about how your blood glucose levels are doing. It’s better to be in control and take action before your levels get too low, than to wait for symptoms to appear – a hypo can make you feel very ill very quickly.
If you don’t have a blood glucose meter, you may want to weigh up the pros and cons of getting one. They’re not essential for everyone with Type 2 diabetes, but some people find that keeping an eye on their blood glucose levels helps them stay in control.