By Kennedy Shelley
We may be treating diabetes too aggressively according to a new study from the Mayo Clinic.
Or more properly said, too much over treatment for diabetes is resulting in thousands of emergency room visits for low blood sugar.
Hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. The concern the researchers had is that diabetics and their caregivers are so aggressive in trying to keep down high blood sugar they can lower it too much.
Low blood sugar can be just as dangerous as sugar that is too high.
The Mayo study looked at over 4000 emergency room visits resulting from diabetes and found that when diabetes is treated too aggressively, this dangerous situation is created.
According to the research, over 2.1 million diabetics are at risk of overtreatment for high blood sugar and worse yet, extremely low blood sugar is seen almost as a good thing, even though it is also a serious danger.
The overuse of insulin is the probable cause.
While some episodes of hypoglycemia are seen as unavoidable because of insulin treatments, much is not because of treatment that is too aggressive.
THE PROBLEM WITH HIGH BLOOD SUGAR
There is no doubt that long term problems happen with persistently high blood glucose levels.
Heart problems, kidney failure, and damage to the circulatory system resulting in amputations are often the result when people ignore their diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is what happens when the body can no longer regulate its blood glucose levels.
In a nutshell, the body can only handle so much sugar in the bloodstream. When it gets too much it uses insulin to remove sugar from the blood and stores it as fat for later use.
What seems to happen over time is this system breaks down. Our bodies become resistant to insulin controlling blood sugars, and in the worst cases, the overworked pancreases quits making insulin.
This cascade of bad events inflames the cardiovascular system creating other problems including blockages in the arteries which can result in heart attacks or strokes.
LOW BLOOD SUGAR IS A PROBLEM TOO
Conventional treatment is helping the overworked pancreas (the organ that produces insulin) by injecting the body with insulin to get the sugar out of the blood.
When the blood sugars drop too low people get extremely tired, sweaty, and when it gets too severe vision starts to blur and people pass out.
In other words, people feel shaky, sweaty. Their heart pounds and they get irritated. Sometimes this looks or feels like a heart attack which may result in an unnecessary ER visit.
When the symptoms happen, diabetics will often grab a soft drink or candy to try and quickly elevate their blood sugars. These fast-acting carbs are the quick route for these people to feel better.
One of the problems that happens with low blood sugar levels is that people walk around in a near zombie-like state and they don’t manage their other diabetic problems which results in the diabetic complications.
Having blood glucose levels of 70 or lower is considered low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
While the low blood sugar is rarely fatal in and of itself, there is often the danger that occurs because of auto accidents and falls because of the loss of bodily control. Many people say that low blood sugar would affect them almost like too much alcohol.
One of the study’s authors said:
“Severe hypoglycemia, defined by the need for another person to help the patient treat and terminate their hypoglycemic event, is associated with increased risk of death, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, falls and fractures, and poor quality of life.” stated Rozalina McCoy, M.D., Endocrinologist and primary care physician at Mayo Clinic.
Controlling high blood sugar needs to be a serious priority, but this study shows that this needs to be balanced carefully with the need to make sure we don’t go too far in the other direction.