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  • Writer's pictureSGFIRSTAID

The Ups and Downs of Blood Sugar

Hey there, health enthusiasts! Today, we're delving into the rollercoaster ride that is blood sugar levels, specifically focusing on hyperglycemia and its counterpart, hypoglycemia. Let's break it down!

testing blood sugar

Hyperglycemia: What Sets the Blood Sugar Skyrocketing?

blood sugar soars

Various factors can send blood sugar levels soaring in individuals with diabetes. Stress, illnesses like the common cold, overindulging in snacks, a sedentary lifestyle, dehydration, medication mishaps, or even certain medications like steroids can all play a role.

Complications: Diabetic Ketoacidosis - A Serious Twist to Hyperglycemia


One of the ominous complications of hyperglycemia is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a potentially life-threatening situation. This occurs when the body can't use blood sugar due to insufficient insulin, resulting in the buildup of ketones, a potentially harmful by-product. The signs of DKA include dehydration, vomiting, increased breathing and heart rate, dizziness, drowsiness, and a distinct fruity breath smell. Loss of consciousness is a red flag, indicating the need for urgent medical attention.

Hypoglycemia: When Blood Sugar Takes a Dive

tiring lifestyle

On the flip side, excessive insulin or certain lifestyle choices can quickly deplete blood glucose levels, leading to hypoglycemia. Causes include skipping meals, eating less than usual, over-exercising, and overconsumption of alcohol, which interferes with the liver's ability to release glucose into the bloodstream.

Signs of Hypoglycemia: Recognising the Warning Signals


How do you know if someone is experiencing hypoglycemia? Look out for low glucose counts (below 3.9 mmol/L), disorientation, confusion, unconsciousness, pale and sweaty skin, shaky hands, lethargy, and even seizures.

Treatment for Diabetic Emergencies: Your Quick Guide

If you find yourself facing a diabetic emergency, here's what you can do:

  1. Call for an ambulance.

  2. If you suspect hypoglycemia, lie the person down with their head propped with pillows.

  3. If they are able to follow simple commands, provide oral glucose tablets. If not available, feed sugary liquid using a straw. Never force them to drink, as it may indicate an inability to swallow. If paramedics are on the way, wait for their sugar-based solution delivered through a vein via a drip.

  4. Observe and note any improvements or deteriorations that will later be reported to the paramedics.

  5. If there’s deterioration, such as the person no longer responding to you, check their breathing. If breathing is absent, begin CPR and AED.

caring for blood sugar

First Aider Tip: Tackling the Blood Sugar Mystery

Differentiating between hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia without a blood glucose monitor can be challenging. The rule of thumb? Treat for hypoglycemia first, as it can escalate more rapidly than hyperglycemia. Time is of the essence!

Remember, these tips are general guidance. To better understand and prepare yourself for any emergency, you can also enroll in our Standard First Aid Course.

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