What does hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) really feel like?
Most parents have no problem interpreting if a blood sugar is low, but can they discipline when their child is hypoglycemic? It is a frequently asked question and talked about topic amongst parents.
Parents, teachers, and care providers for kids with type 1 diabetes are often left to interpret behaviors. Is this child misbehaving purposefully or is this a “Houston, we’ve got a problem” moment? Perhaps this witty child is testing me and using their diabetes as an excuse? Type 1 diabetes management in a child is simply tricky business.
Every child is unique, therefore parenting is molded to the needs of each individual. Parents of kids with type 1 diabetes are always sorting through potential diabetes factors, it’s a continuous cycle of what if’s. I can guarantee there isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t disciplined their child’s behaviors only to figure out they had low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). You don’t have to be a type 1 diabetes rookie to have it happen to you. With good intentions, you can relieve yourself of the mental muck that comes along with that…
With the advent of continuous glucose monitors, it is a bit easier to flesh out what is happening before your eyes without digging around for the glucometer.
See She Sugar’s articles “Dexcom CGM- a Child’s Perspective” and “Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor, a Nurse’s Review”
My perception of low blood sugar may differ from some. Having type 1 diabetes myself and parenting to my daughter that also has it provides me a unique connection. However, I’m obviously not a glucometer and truthfully my other daughter is usually correct in her perceptions! My empathy and patience for my daughter during a hypo or hyperglycemia event is a personal one. I know sitting and waiting after a low is incredibly important from my firsthand experience with it. A quiet environment is also key as it’s difficult to interpret all the jibber-jabber when you’re lacking sugar to your brain.
Some low blood sugars feel like no big deal events while others can rock your world for fifteen minutes. With a true lack of sugar to the brain, too much stimulation is overwhelming. I personally couldn’t imagine having someone trying to make sense of or correct my behaviors during a low blood sugar episode. Clearly you are trying to negotiate with a person who has semi checked out and is incapable of your requests. Fixing the blood sugar is paramount.
I tend to find that it’s easier for people to understand hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) than hyperglycemia. Many people have experienced a slightly hypoglycemic state in their lifetime. If you give someone a list of symptoms with high and low blood sugar they typically look confused because there is an overlap of symptoms with both states.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- slurred speech
- problems focusing
- silly/hyper behavior (in children particularly)
- glassy eyes
- rapid heart beat
- loss of consciousness/ seizure
It can take up to fifteen minutes to feel “normal” again after a low blood sugar. Many people with type 1 diabetes simply just want to sit or lay down and wait to feel better after treating their low blood sugar. Remember to be as patient as possible in this situation.
Your child will develop their own short list of usual low blood sugar symptoms. These are so important to share with friends, teachers and relatives. One year my daughter’s teacher told me she know her blood sugar was dropping when her eyes got glassy and her cheeks were rosy. Now that is an in tune teacher- we were incredibly thankful for in grade school.
See She Sugar’s article on high blood sugar “Hyperglycemia- How Does it Make You Feel?