Hypoglycemia: Causes (Nursing)

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:01 Now let's talk about common causes of low blood sugar.

    00:04 Four of them.

    00:05 So when you're laying this out in your notes, I want you to be thinking, hey, if my patient is experiencing low blood sugar.

    00:11 There's probably one of four reasons that this is happening.

    00:16 First of all, I want to talk about insulin because the worst case scenario with insulin is low blood sugar.

    00:23 So taking insulin or other diabetes medication incorrectly if the patient doesn't understand the timing of it or the dosage of it, that can cause low blood sugar.

    00:34 If the patient waits too long to eat after taking a medication.

    00:37 So if they give themselves their insulin and then they wait a couple hours before they eat, they're risking low blood sugar.

    00:44 What if they take their insulin and they do start eating but they just don't eat enough.

    00:49 There's a very delicate balance between the amount of insulin or medication the patient is taking and the amount and timing of food.

    00:57 Now it goes without saying if the patient is skipping meals this also puts them in at risk for low blood sugar.

    01:03 Now exercise is good.

    01:05 We want a patient to be active.

    01:07 We want everyone to be active but extreme exercise, or exercising at an unusual time and not monitoring your blood sugar before you exercise could really make a difference or put the patient at risk for low blood sugar.

    01:21 So exercise is good.

    01:24 But you have to know all about the timing, you're gonna have to time exercise and work with the health care provider and about checking your blood sugar before the exercise even during the exercise if you start to notice some symptoms.

    01:37 Now the fourth one may surprise you.

    01:40 So it's kind of a social thing.

    01:41 Let's leave it there for just a minute.

    01:43 I want to make sure you're clear on these first three points.

    01:46 Taking insulin or your other diabetic medications incorrectly can risk low blood sugar.

    01:53 Waiting too long to eat after have the medication or not eating enough can risk low blood sugar.

    01:59 Also if skipping meals that's like not eating then that can risk low blood sugar.

    02:05 Exercise that's out of the ordinary or extreme or with not appropriate monitoring can also cause low blood sugar.

    02:12 Ready for the next one.

    02:13 Well, I learned this one the hard way, I went to a graduation celebration of nursing students who are some of my favorite people on the planet and there is a student there who now graduated who was drinking alcohol.

    02:29 Well, he was drinking alcohol, but he wasn't eating anything.

    02:34 So by the time we got to the third stop on our biking experience, which that's a very interesting thing to do while people are imbibing but while they were biking, I bought giant plates of french fries because it was the only thing I could get him to eat but I was watching him and I saw that he was showing signs of low blood sugar.

    02:54 Now I don't drink alcohol. That's my choice.

    02:58 But when I'm around someone who is drinking alcohol, and I know that they're diabetic.

    03:03 I'm always on the lookout for those type of cues.

    03:06 So he may have thought, alcohol has carbs that should raise their blood sugar, but it does not.

    03:12 So keep on the lookout I passed out I force-fed more french fries that night than I ever have in my life time, but I also maintained a pretty decent blood sugar for him.

    03:23 Okay, so why is hypoglycemic considered dangerous? Why was I so worried about this former student who had a low blood sugar? Here's the deal the worst-case scenario for low blood sugar is pretty bad.

    03:36 Now I'm talking about severe hypoglycemia.

    03:38 If you're not, this isn't going to happen with a blood sugar of 69, but when your body doesn't have enough blood sugar, it starves the brain and the rest of the body of glucose, which you know is the body's main source of fuel.

    03:52 Now symptoms can range from mild to I don't feel very good to life-threatening because if it's not treated severe low blood sugar can be very dangerous.

    04:02 I'm talking seizures, loss of consciousness or death.

    04:08 So if you know someone who's diabetic monitoring for low blood sugar is just as important, maybe even a little more than monitoring the higher blood sugars.

    04:18 They're both important.

    04:20 Now, let me tell you about the coolest way I know to monitor for low blood sugar.

    04:24 I know someone who has a goldendoodle their name is Harper, and Harper has been trained when this friends blood sugar dropped low, they would take cotton balls dip it in the saliva and then they would save those cotton balls Harper learned to find those cotton balls with a very special trainer.

    04:43 They would hide those cotton balls and Harper got a treat every time they found them because there's a very unique smell to the saliva to a dog when the blood sugar was low, so Harper went on with his training and now Harper is so good at recognizing when her blood sugar is low, Harper lets her know her blood sugar is low, even before her continuous blood glucose monitoring unit goes off is that not the coolest thing ever? I love it.

    05:11 We're coming up with better and better solutions.

    05:13 So people with really severe diabetes who are life-threatening risk if they lived on their own have a back-up plan. And in an adorable goldendoodle.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Hypoglycemia: Causes (Nursing) by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Diabetes Type 1 and 2: Complications and Symptoms (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Taking a short-acting insulin and not eating for 6 hours
    2. Taking a mealtime insulin 30 minutes prior to eating
    3. Taking a long-acting insulin at bedtime
    4. Eating crackers before vigorous exercise
    1. Seizure
    2. Myocardial infarction
    3. Vomiting
    4. Headache
    1. Glucose
    2. Lipids
    3. Protein
    4. Insulin

    Author of lecture Hypoglycemia: Causes (Nursing)

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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