Sugar and Insulin Imbalances

In the previous section, we discussed some of the very basics of insulin. We know that insulin and sugar work together to give cells the energy they need for your body to function.
If the sugar cannot get into the cells due to lack of insulin, then there is much more than you need (your general functioning level of sugar in the blood) left floating around in the body. This is high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. If this is caused by a lack of insulin, then how do you treat hyperglycemia? You treat this imbalance with insulin so that the sugar, or glucose can once again get in the cells and restore that balance so that only your working level of sugar remains in the blood.
When there is more insulin than you really need to satisfy your cells, those extra insulin molecules pair up with sugars that are floating around in your blood causing low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. There is once again an imbalance where this time, your working level of sugar in your blood is lower than ideal. So if you do not have enough sugar able to work as energy in your bloodstream because of more insulin than you need, how do you treat this? SUGAR! You need to restore that balance so that you are back at your “normal” working level of sugar in your blood without all that extra insulin capturing the sugar so it cannot be used.
Now that we know what hyper- and hypo- glycemia are, let’s review some of the signs and symptoms of these conditions so you can recognize them. Since diabetes is a very individual disease, the way people feel high and low blood sugars and the way they react to them varies person to person.
Low blood sugar signs and symptoms can include:
• Dizziness
• Shaking
• Feeling faint
• Looking pale
• Unsteady movements
• Having a hard time balancing
• Tired
• Grumpy
• Headache
• Sweating
• Feeling weak
• Hungry
If someone you care for feels this way or you observe these symptoms in them, they may need sugar to raise their blood sugar level. First, you should verify that these signs are indeed causes by low blood sugar, and then if that is the case, treat the low blood sugar with something like juice, regular soda, glucose tabs, glucose gel, hard candy, or sugar packets. Most people consider hypoglycemia to be a blood sugar under 70, but please ask the parent what their specific number is. It would also be a good idea to ask them the preferred method of treating the low blood sugar, and how much of that specific form of sugar they use for treating lows.
High blood sugar signs and symptoms can include:
• Thirst
• Frequent urination
• Hungry
• Grumpy
• Blurred vision
• Headache
• Tired
• Dizziness
• Nausea
When these symptoms are noticed by your or the child with diabetes, you first need to check the blood sugar to see if in fact these are from high blood sugar. Generally a high blood sugar is anything over 200, but please verify what number is considered high for this person with diabetes. To treat high blood sugar, insulin is needed. Usually there is some sort of correction factor or sliding scale so you know how much insulin is needed for a certain high blood sugar number.
**Remember: If in doubt and no blood sugar check has been done, treat as if the blood sugar is low since those are generally more immediately dangerous than high blood sugars. **


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