An Intro To Hypoglycemia Unawareness
Hypoglycemia is a serious condition that can occur in people with diabetes who take certain medications or insulin therapy. Hypoglycemia unawareness (HU) is a dangerous phenomenon that prevents individuals from experiencing the warning signs of hypoglycemia. This can make it difficult to recognize and address blood sugar levels before they reach dangerously low levels. Here’s what you need to know about HU and how to keep it in check:
What is Hypoglycemia Unawareness?
Hypoglycemia unawareness (HU) refers to an inability to recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Because of this lack of warning signs, people with HU can experience episodes of severe hypoglycemia without realizing it, which increases their risk of developing life-threatening complications due to the sudden drop in their blood glucose level.
The following are the most common symptoms of hypoglycemia unawareness:
- Tiredness: Many people suffering from this condition will experience fluctuations in their energy levels due to constant low blood sugar. If you often feel tired for no reason or experience fatigue even when you haven’t done very much physical activity, it could point to an issue with your blood sugar levels.
- Shakiness: Shaking or trembling can be another symptom of low blood sugar.
- Issues Concentrating: Low blood sugar can cause short-term memory loss, making it harder to stay on track with work or studies. It can also make focusing difficult and further contribute to feelings of confusion when it comes to completing tasks quickly and accurately.
- Irritability: Those suffering from this condition often feel emotional outbursts which are the result of not having enough energy or glucose in the body, thus leading to irritability and impatience when dealing with even minor matters.
- Sweating & Nausea: For those who suffer from hypoglycemia unawareness, sweating is a frequent occurrence due to their bodies trying to conserve energy by increasing their internal temperature. Nausea can also accompany sweating as a form of sensing a ‘danger’ response from the body, sending signals that need attention right away due to sudden drops in energy levels without warning signs.
How Does Hypoglycemia Unawareness Develop?
HU is relatively common in people who have had type 1 diabetes for quite some time however; studies suggest that up to 40 percent of type 1 diabetes patients may be affected by this condition at some point during their disease course. It’s thought that over-treatment with insulin or other coma-inducing medications combined with insulin resistance caused by frequent episodes of hyperglycemia leads to HU as the body adjusts its response threshold to avoid further episodes.
Causes & Risks of Hypoglycemia Unawareness
The exact cause of hypoglycemia unawareness is unknown but some factors that could contribute include sustained tight glycemic control for many years or significant episodes of recurrent hypoglycemia. Additionally, some have suggested that repeated treatments of mild hypoglycemia can desensitize people to its warning signs leading to hypoglycemia unawareness.
Managing Hypoglycemic Unawareness
Managing hypoglycemic unawareness starts with understanding your own body’s response during periods of inadequate glycemic control. Regular monitoring and tracking your blood sugar numbers will help you identify trends in and adjustment needs for changes in diet, medications, exercise, and daily variables like stress levels – which may all influence how easily you get into hypo territory. Finally, always have access to easy carbs—like candy or juice—on hand just in case an episode does occur where no one else is around who can treat the episode properly or if immediate medical attention isn’t available either at all locations you visit frequently throughout your day or immediately on call when needed most suddenly while outside home base again!
Treatment for Hypoglycemic Unawareness
- Metformin: One medication that helps to treat hypoglycemic unawareness is metformin. Metformin works by helping to improve insulin sensitivity in cells as well as increasing the body’s response to insulin injections and oral medications.
- Sulfonylureas: Another type of medication used for treating hypoglycemia is called sulfonylureas. These help increase the production of insulin in the pancreas so that when glucose levels drop too low the body can respond more quickly and efficiently to raise them back up again. Additionally, sulfonylureas can lower the release of glucose from the liver during an episode of hypoglycemia which helps to keep blood sugar levels where needed.
- Thiazolidinediones: This type of medication helps reduce resistance to insulin and increases bud sensitivity which means it allows cells to take up more glucose from food sources. This effectively lowers blood sugar levels before they dip too low, thus reducing episodes of hypoglycemia and allowing users better control over their condition.
- Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Agonists: These types of medications work very similarly to incretins – hormones released by the gut when you eat certain foods – to regulate blood glucose levels after eating or drinking something sweet or sugary by stimulating insulin secretion when necessary as well as suppressing glucagon release so cells will take up more glucose during an episode of hypoglycemia for quick stabilization.
What Are Beta Blockers?
Beta-blockers are medications that block the effects of adrenaline on the body. They appear to lower blood sugar levels by slowing down either heart rate or the speed at which food moves from the stomach into your small intestine — both of which can lead to lower overall blood glucose concentrations. Beta-blockers also reduce symptoms associated with hypoglycemia unawareness including trembling, sweating, and rapid heartbeat.
Does It Work?
Research shows that beta-blocker therapy appears to reduce episodes of severe hypoglycemia in some people with type 1 diabetes who also suffer from hypoglycemia unawareness.
How Should Beta Blockers Be Used?
Beta-blockers should not be used without consulting a doctor. The physician will assess the patient’s current health and determine whether using these drugs is necessary and appropriate in their care plan. Additionally, patients need to pay close attention to changes in their symptoms as well as monitor blood sugar levels regularly during treatment. Even more frequently than usual—to ensure that everything remains in balance for optimal results.
The Role Of Beta Blockers In Treating Hypoglycemic Unawareness
Beta-blockers (e.g., propranolol) are important medications such as catecholamines. Such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine which may contribute to HIU by releasing glucagon in attempts to address the exaggerated drop in blood sugars. Often report feeling anxious or stressed after servings at night, particularly during sleep. However, studies suggest that by integrating beta blockers these effects can resolve quickly without any further detriment for the host leading to slow recovery rates.
Here are some steps for managing HUIS:
Be Aware of Your Medication and Your Daily Routine
People with HUIS need to be especially aware of how the medications they’re taking can impact their blood sugar levels throughout the day. Some types of diabetes drugs aim to lower blood sugar quickly and last for several hours, which means you may find yourself struggling against unexpected dips in your glucose levels. Additionally, lifestyle factors such as regular exercise or eating habits that may influence your response to particular medications need to be considered when trying to manage HUIS.
Seek Regular Medical Attention
People with HUIS should regularly seek medical attention from a qualified doctor or nurse. This is essential to prevent serious health risks associated with chronically low blood sugars and keep track of any changes that may occur during treatment or while monitoring your symptoms daily.
Invest in a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)
A Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) is a device that allows you to check your blood sugar level at all times – 24 hours a day, 7 days per week – so you can better recognize periods when your levels are likely to fall out of range before it’s too late. A CGM also sends these readings wirelessly to smartphones and other digital devices, allowing easy access and tracking of data points over time.
Monitor Food Intake Patterns Closely
Eating patterns vary widely among individuals dealing with HUIS and therefore will require regular analysis to plan meals and snacks accordingly. If possible, try eating smaller meals more often throughout the day as opposed to larger meals all at once; this will help regulate blood glucose levels more effectively over time by avoiding sudden drops due to lack of nutrition or consistent carbohydrate intake.
Talk With Others Who Have Experienced HUIS Talking with fellow diabetics affected by HUIS can help understand the condition better; sharing what worked well for those involved can provide valuable insight into potential solutions that could improve the overall quality of life despite having recurring hypoglycemic episodes which suggest poor compliance wearing medications.