You’ve finally put an end to having 30-minute long showers, changed your flannelette bed sheets back to linen, and have the fan running 24/7 (hello exxy energy bill). While we could make an endless list of all the things we love about spring and summer, enjoying sleeping through a hot sticky night definitely doesn’t make it to the list.
But if you’re waking up sweating regardless if it’s a hot night or not, there could be an underlying problem; you actually might be experiencing a hypoglycaemia episode.
So what is it?
According to Dr Gary Deed, Chair of the RACGP’s Diabetes Specific Interest network, hypoglycaemia occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels drop too low, below 4mmoI/L.
“Interestingly, diabetes is diagnosed by an elevated glucose and we try to manage higher blood glucose levels as they are related to complications such as eye disease, kidney disease and amputation,” Dr Deed tells myBody+Soul.
“One problem is that in managing diabetes with medications, we can sometimes over-correct and this may lead to hypoglycaemia.”
What are the main causes?
Dr Deed explains medications, underlying health conditions and skipping meals can trigger hypoglycaemia.
“Complex medications including some forms of insulin and oral diabetes medications are a trigger in some people. Having chronic kidney disease and being elderly is another risk factor irrespective of medications.”
“Sudden changes in physical activity or eating patterns (missing meals) may also provoke problems in some. Your GP should help identify these if you are at particular risk.”
Diabetes Australia also points out that your risk of hypoglycaemia increases with the more alcohol you drink, and for those who don’t eat enough carbohydrates.
Signs and symptoms
While symptoms vary from person to person, according to Diabetes Australia, early signs and symptoms may include:
- Shaking, trembling or weakness
- Light headedness and dizziness
- Changes in mood
Dr Deed also adds that “if the glucose goes so low, the person may collapse into unconsciousness.”
When it comes to treatment, Dr Deed says the key is prevention.
“Monitoring blood glucose through self-monitoring devices helps to predict or measure glucose falling. The treatment is to give pure glucose in a measured amount to help overcome the acute lowering, plus a slow release of carbohydrates to maintain the glucose level until the next meal or prevent a further drop in glucose.”
If you have diabetes, Dr Deed explains you should check your glucose levels before exercising and always make sure to have glucose jelly beans or glucose tablets on hand in case hypoglycaemia occurs.
For those who don’t have diabetes, ensure you have regular meals and seek professional advice before starting a new exercise routine.
Follow these three steps if you suspect you have hypoglycaemia:
Step 1: Have 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrates such as seven jellybeans or half a glass of fruit juice.
Step 2: Wait 15 minutes and re-check your blood glucose levels to see if it has risen above 4mmoI/L. If it hasn’t, repeat Step 1.
Step 3: Eat a snack or meal with longer acting carbohydrates such as a piece of bread, a tub of natural low fat yoghurt, or some rice or pasta.
Visit the Diabetes Australia and NDSS websites for more information on hypoglycaemia and fear of hypo’s.
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