July 20, 2009

Hypoglycemia and Diabetes: Possible? Yes, Misconceptions? Many!

It’s true. With today’s goals and efforts to help people tighten their blood glucose control to minimize the long term diabetes complications, practitioners can increase the risks and possible occurrences of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) for some.

However, if all you knew about the risks for and likely frequency of hypoglycemia was from the news (as well as movie and stage theatrics) you’d be convinced that every person with diabetes is likely to keel over regularly.

On 7/19/09 in the New York Times’ article about accuracy of blood glucose meters, noted “wide error rate can leave patients vulnerable to severe problems [from hypoglycemia], including seizures, unconsciousness and coma.”

A Washington Post Health Section article reviewing a study, Quick Study: Hypoglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes, incorrectly noted, “Hypoglycemia often is a side effect of diabetes medication.”

Unfortunately, both the perceptions of and concern about potential severe hypoglycemia (defined as enough to require help from a person or emergency personnel) keep outdated information about hypoglycemia and diabetes care at the forefront of people’s minds. This can keep people with diabetes from using the optimal treatments and prevent them from achieving the blood glucose control needed to stay healthy.

Whether you’re a person with type 2 diabetes needing to progress your therapy, a person with type 1 diabetes needing to tighten your blood glucose control or just someone interested in the correct information about hypoglycemia (in a person with diabetes), get the facts about hypoglycemia:

  • Studies in people with type 1 diabetes show that intensively treated people average less than one severe low blood glucose (see definition above) annually.*
  • The occurrence of severe hypoglycemia in people with type 2 who take medications which can cause hypoglycemia, is way less than once a year.
  • Fewer than half of the currently used blood glucose lowering medications can even cause hypoglycemia because they don’t work by putting more insulin into the circulation.
  • More than half of the blood glucose lowering medication in use for type 2 diabetes today don’t cause hypoglycemia. This includes the most commonly used medication (metformin/Glucophage), In addition, the medications Actos and Avandia, sitagliptin/Januvia, and the injectable exenatide/Byetta don’t cause hypoglycemia (unless combined with another medication which can cause low blood glucose).

To over dramatize the risks for and fears of hypoglycemia is a disservice to people trying to control their blood glucose tightly, their family members and many other people in their lives. It’s also continues to foster misunderstandings about diabetes management and misconceptions about currently available and improving therapies to employers, school system personnel and society-at-large.

Please, let’s get the story about hypoglycemia right! (To learn more about hypglycemia and proper treatment buy Real Life Guide to Diabetes.

*Note: People who take insulin or another medication which can cause hypoglycemia will experience some mild or moderate hypoglycemia. They should always be prepared to treat their hypoglycemia. Learn more about hypoglycemia and the easy-to-take and easy-to-carry Dex4 line of treatments. Dex4 tablets bottle