DISCLAIMER - I am not a medical professional and everybody who suffers with Type 1 Diabetes has different symptoms/ treatment etc. Views are my own and not that of any medical organisations. Always check with a healthcare professional etc etc…
Hey you! Yeah you! Don’t look behind you! Its you I want to talk to!
OK so that came across strong…
But Ive got your attention right?
If I told you this blog could be about someone you love, a member of your family, a work colleague, a child you work with, a friend or just a stranger would you carry on reading?
OK good now I've got your attention.
‘WOULD YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE WITH TYPE 1 DIABETES BECAME UNWELL?’ (I feel like I sound like a cheesy TV advert)
Would you give them sugar?
Or do they need insulin?
I don’t blame you in any way for not knowing!
I didn't know I had a pancreas before I was diagnosed.
I didn’t even know Type 1 Diabetes existed.
Only because I now have it I do.
If a Type 1 Diabetics blood sugars drops too low or rises too high it can cause us to act out of character or become unconscious. If our blood sugar drops too low or rises too high we may not be lucid enough to be able to recognise our own symptoms.
Im going to explain what to do - you never know when you may be in the situation where a Type 1 needs your help.
How to check a diabetics blood sugar if they are unable
- Pop a strip into the meter - most meters turn on automatically when you do this
2. Finger pricker dependant (some have a button on the side to prick the finger) prick them on the the top part of their finger
3. Squeeze the finger and place the blood on the testing strip in the meter
4. A normal blood sugar is between 4 and 7mmol
The person may also have a Freestyle Libre (a small plastic coin like device on their arm) and a black handset. When the button on the handset is pressed and the machine is swiped against the Libre it will tell the show the blood sugar reading and an arrow in the direction their sugar levels are going.
Symptoms of hypos (hypoglycemia) - a blood sugar reading of under 4mmol
- Muddled up sentences
- Irritable (or if you're from up north ‘mardy'!)
If the person is having a dangerously low hypo they may also appear Incoherent and intoxicated - something that can be very dangerous if confused with being too drunk in bars or nightclubs.
What to do!
Normally as a diabetic we carry glucotabs, a sugary drink or jelly babies in our bag. If there isn't anything with them - anything sugary will do! The recommended amount is 3 glucotabs or 150ml of a drink or 3-5 jelly babies.
(If their bloods have not returned to normal in 15 minutes - repeat)
If the person cannot eat - but is still conscious
Give them a glucagon injection if they cannot do it themselves (If they carry one!) This is an injection in an orange case used to raise blood glucose in an emergency (the instructions are in the case).
If the person has no glucagon pen/ has lost consciousness
Ring 999 - the longer the Type 1 diabetic is unconscious the lower there blood sugars will drop
(This could result in death - panic now - internally of course)
Symptoms of high blood sugars
- Fruity breath (smells like pear drops)
- Rapid heartbeat
What to do!
If the person is unwell
A hyper doesn't have the same immediate risk of a hypo.
But it the persons sugar levels are very high (I would say about 17mmol (but don't quote me I'm not a medical professional!) to check for ketones on their handset. If the person has ketones they need to correct their blood sugars down with insulin and drink lots of water. Contact their nurse/111. If the ketones are above 3 the general advice is go to hospital.
If the person is unconscious
Ring an ambulance - this is a symptom of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) and can be fatal.
I know this is a serious blog but I have had friends who have had hypo seizures due to low blood sugars and those in DKA who have been on their own - hopefully this will help to spread awareness incase this ever happens near you!
Thanks for reading this dear reader and you never know…
One day you may be the person to save my life?
Lots of love The Backpacker and the Pod xxx