Feeling wobbly or confused? Got tingly lips and blurred eyesight? You could be having a hypo.
Almost everyone with Type 1 diabetes will have a hypo at some stage. No-one likes them, but you need to know why they happen and what to do about them.
Hypos (hypoglycaemia or low blood glucose) happen when your blood glucose level drops too low.
In people who don't have diabetes, the right amount of insulin is usually produced at the right time so their blood glucose level doesn't go too high or too low.
In people with diabetes, the balance of insulin, food and physical activity sometimes isn’t right and blood glucose levels drop too low. That's when you start feeling wobbly.
The worst feeling after a hypo, for me, is having lost control of the situation and perhaps of yourself – of having 'failed' to balance your food, exercise and insulin. - Jamie, 14
There's no definite way of predicting when hypos may happen. However, they're more likely to happen when:
- you've missed a meal or snack
- your meal was delayed (this can often happen if you are on two injections a day and you have your lunch later than usual)
- you didn't have enough carbohydrate such as pasta or potatoes at your last meal
- you did some strenuous exercise without taking extra carbohydrate or reducing your insulin dose to allow for it
- you've got too hot (a hot bath or being in the sun for too long increases the rate at which insulin is absorbed)
- you've had too much alcohol to drink.
Your hypo warning symptoms are your back-up. Everyone has different symptoms, but some of the common ones are: feeling shaky, sweating, hunger, tiredness, blurred vision, pins and needles around your mouth, finding it hard to concentrate, headaches, feeling tearful, increased heart rate, and becoming stroppy or stubborn.
In the public eye
It's completely normal to be afraid of having a hypo, especially in public. You might feel embarrassed or worried about the reaction of other people. However, sometimes during a hypo, you could get confused and be unable to sort yourself out. It is far better for you and people around you to know about your diabetes, what hypos are and how they can help you. After all, it can be frightening for them to see you having a hypo and not know what to do.