How can I tell if a diabetic has low blood sugar?

It helps if you know the diabetic well enough to recognize behavior that isn't normal. If a generally easygoing person starts snapping and snarling, it may be low blood sugar. If a decisive person becomes vague, that can be a clue. Fumbling hands, glassy eyes, slurred speech, perspiration on the forehead or upper lip, a dopey smile, an odd, taut look about the face all can be symptoms of hypoglycemia. Just about all diabetics have some signs peculiar to themselves that you'll grow to recognize, if you're around them a lot and are observant.

Even if you know the person well, though, it's not always easy to recognize low blood sugar. We still remember the time we were talking to the Glendale chapter of the Diabetes Association of Southern California and told about one of our editors who said she could always recognize when June had low blood sugar "because she starts being mean to Barbara." We noticed a woman in the audience frowning. During the question and answer period she said, "My little boy has diabetes and takes insulin. Often, in fact, very often before dinner he's a holy terror. I can't do a thing with him. Could that be low blood sugar?" "Oh boy, could it!" we chorused.

She was really shaken, because she had been punishing him for the misbehavior of his chemicals. When you ascertain that a diabetic does have low blood sugar, take action immediately.

Above all, don't follow the example of the sister of a diabetic friend of ours, who, when she saw he was starting to act funny, looked terrified and announced, "You've got low blood sugar! I'm getting out of here!" And she fled.

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