I was chatting with diabetes investor / expert / friend Robert Oringer the other day, who has two teenage sons with Type 1 diabetes. "I'm obsessed with finding ways to prevent severe hypoglycemia," he pronounced. I guess I knew this about him, but it reminded me of just how complex and scary blood sugar lows can be. Which led me back to this post, which, three years later, still rings true:
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I have been schooled in hypoglycemia, in more ways than one.
TYPE 2) First off, you were all right, of course: hypoglycemia is apparently often an early sign of Type 2 diabetes.
When the body is resistant to the insulin it makes, the result is "... an 'overshoot' phenomenon characterized by a large spike in insulin, followed by a drop in blood sugar. Over time, repeated insulin spikes may lead to a decrease in pancreatic reserve, or more insulin resistance," Bennett's experts say.
Meaning: "The brain craves more glucose so you consume more simple carbs to get your blood sugar back up again. You get into this vicious cycle of low sugar, high sugar, low sugar, high sugar, low sugar, high sugar. And that taxes your pancreas, which then leads to either insulin deficiency or to greater insulin resistance and, therefore, type 2 diabetes. (Type 2) diabetes really is chronic hypoglycemia."
Hmmph, so it's the continual lows that make you high all the time. Yet another twist to this confounded disease. So if you feel shaky and ravenous after eating sweets, beware. You may have — or be headed towards — Type 2 diabetes. Loverly.
TYPE 1) Back in my world of continually struggling to get the insulin dosing just right, I have hit a new (and quite frightening) record! Felt a little strange the other day — nothing too alarming, mind you. Just a sense of some buzzy disorder at the back of my head. Checked and discovered I was at 36!! WtF? Began gorging on raisins immediately as I checked again: 43. Well now I know I'm not imagining it: as time goes on, I am most certainly becoming more and more hypoglycemic unaware! How much longer until I land in the ER, I'd like to know?!
To date, I've been very lucky. I've only had one instance in which I was truly disabled and needed help — but Oh, Chrissie (in Belgium), I feel for you on the bad hypos!
Thank you also, Chrissie, for noting why this happens to us: "A hypo normally makes the body react with epinephrine, cortisol and other BG raising hormones. However, this causes toxicity. Your body is merely trying to avoid this toxicity, and therefore you do not produce these hormones so easily..."
The experts put it this way: "Symptoms of a low become less obvious after having diabetes for several years because repeated lows impair the body's release of stress hormones. The major counter-regulatory hormone that causes glucose to be released by the liver to raise the blood sugar is glucagon. Glucagon secretion is reduced in most people who have Type 1 diabetes within the first two to ten years after onset."
They also note: "Women are more prone to this problem because they have reduced counter-regulatory responses and reduced symptoms." Now isn't that Loverly, too?