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Learn to Avoid Low Blood Sugar With Mealtime Insulin PA

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It’s almost dinnertime, and you’re looking forward to a plate full of delicious, healthy food. Besides making sure you’ve put your napkin in your lap, what else do you need to do when preparing to enjoy your meal?

Many people with type 2 diabetes need to watch out for two things around mealtime: carbohydrates and insulin. If you’re prescribed a rapid-acting mealtime insulin, you’ll calculate the number of carbs you plan on eating and then prepare the correct dose of rapid-acting mealtime insulin to take before you eat. It’s important you’re careful in your preparations so you avoid any big surges or drops in your blood sugar levels. Carbs turn into sugar when digested, and insulin helps your body process that sugar so it’s used for energy or stored. If it doesn’t get processed, though—if you don’t take your insulin correctly—the sugar stays in your bloodstream, leading to high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. This can lead to serious problems like damage to your kidneys and nerves.  But on the flip side, if you take too much insulin too soon, you might accidentally find yourself experiencing the symptoms of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

At first, it might seem intimidating to manage your mealtime insulin, but it’s crucial to adhere to your prescribed insulin regimen to prevent serious diabetes complications. Plus, after a while, following the steps to take your insulin before meals will be second nature.

Signs and Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar

What exactly is low blood sugar? Hypoglycemia is the technical term for low blood sugar, or low blood glucose levels. When your blood sugar dips beneath 70 mg/dL, you may start feeling a little shaky and sweaty. You might also exhibit other common signs of hypoglycemia, such as nausea, headache, confusion, anxiety, or tremors. If not addressed, hypoglycemia can worsen and even lead to unconsciousness or seizures. That’s especially dangerous if you’re doing something like driving a car or operating a piece of machinery, such as a lawn mower. Hypoglycemia has also been associated with an increased risk for serious conditions like dementia.

The Appropriate Use of Mealtime Insulin

The consistent use of a type of mealtime insulin, like Humalog (insulin lispro), may help you avoid the lows of hypoglycemia. Humalog is used to treat people with diabetes for the control of high blood sugar. But you have to know how to use it correctly.

  • Count carbs accurately. Before you dig in, assess your plate. Do you know how many grams of carbohydrates you’re about to consume?

  • Prepare the right amount of rapid-acting insulin. Make sure you have the right dosage of your mealtime insulin to accommodate the food, including the carbs, you’re about to eat.

  • Get your timing right. It’s critical to inject your rapid-acting insulin at the right time--about 15 minutes before eating for Humalog and slightly longer for other types of mealtime insulin. If you inject it too early, the insulin will start working before it has any food to process, which can drop your blood sugar levels.

  • Plan for snacks, too. You may need to adjust your daily insulin doses if you’re planning on snacking, depending on the carb count for those snacks.

  • Learn from your experience. Over time, you’ll get a handle on how certain foods affect your blood glucose levels and will be able to adjust your mealtime insulin levels accordingly.

Pay Attention to Your Specific Needs

One of the most important things you can do is learn about the relationship between the food you eat, the activities you engage in, and the insulin that you take—and how that combination affects your blood sugar levels. Pay close attention to how your blood sugar levels react in response to any changes in the number of carbs you eat or exercise you get, as well as the amount of mealtime insulin you take. You may also want to keep some glucose tablets on hand in case you take a dose of rapid-acting insulin and aren’t able to eat soon thereafter, for whatever reason. You’ll soon develop a routine that works well for you and be on the way to good diabetes control.

PP-HI-US-1192  02/2019 ©Lilly USA, LLC 2019. All rights reserved.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 Jul 6
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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.
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