HYPERGLYCAEMIA (high blood sugar levels)
If your blood sugar is too high (hyperglycaemia), you may not have injected enough insulin.
Why does hyperglycaemia occur?
- you have not injected your insulin or not injected enough, or if it has become less effective, for example through incorrect storage,
- you are doing less exercise than usual, you are under stress (emotional distress, excitement), or you have an injury, operation, infection or fever,
- you are taking or have taken certain other medicines (see section 2, “Other medicines and Apidra”).
Warning symptoms of hyperglycaemia
Thirst, increased need to urinate, tiredness, dry skin, reddening of the face, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, fast heart beat, and glucose and
ketone bodies in urine. Stomach pain, fast and deep breathing, sleepiness or even loss of consciousness may be signs of a serious condition (ketoacidosis)
resulting from lack of insulin.
What should you do if you experience hyperglycaemia?
Test your blood sugar level and your urine for ketones as soon as any of the above symptoms occur. Severe hyperglycaemia or ketoacidosis must always be treated by a doctor, normally in a hospital.
HYPOGLYCAEMIA (low blood sugar levels)
If your blood sugar level falls too much you may become unconscious. Serious hypoglycaemia may cause a heart attack or brain damage and may be
life-threatening. You normally should be able to recognise when your blood sugar is falling too much so that you can take the right actions.
Why does hypoglycaemia occur?
- you inject too much insulin,
- you miss meals or delay them,
- you do not eat enough, or eat food containing less carbohydrate than normal (sugar and substances similar to sugar are called carbohydrates; however,
artificial sweeteners are NOT carbohydrates),
- you lose carbohydrates due to vomiting or diarrhoea,
- you drink alcohol, particularly if you are not eating much,
- you are doing more exercise than usual or a different type of physical activity,
- you are recovering from an injury or operation or other stress,
- you are recovering from an illness or from fever,
- you are taking or have stopped taking certain other medicines (see section 2, “Other medicines and Apidra”).
Hypoglycaemia is also more likely to occur if:
- you have just begun insulin treatment or changed to another insulin preparation,
- your blood sugar levels are almost normal or are unstable,
- you change the area of skin where you inject insulin (for example from the thigh to the upper arm),
- you suffer from severe kidney or liver disease, or some other disease such as hypothyroidism.
Warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia
- In your body
Examples of symptoms that tell you that your blood sugar level is falling too much or too fast: sweating, clammy skin, anxiety, fast heart beat, high blood
pressure, palpitations and irregular heartbeat. These symptoms often develop before the symptoms of a low sugar level in the brain.
- In your brain
Examples of symptoms that indicate a low sugar level in the brain: headaches, intense hunger, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, sleepiness, sleep disturbances,
restlessness, aggressive behaviour, lapses in concentration, impaired reactions, depression, confusion, speech disturbances (sometimes total loss of
speech), visual disorders, trembling, paralysis, tingling sensations (paraesthesia), numbness and tingling sensations in the area of the mouth, dizziness,
loss of self-control, inability to look after yourself, convulsions and loss of consciousness.
The first symptoms which alert you to hypoglycaemia (“warning symptoms”) may change, be weaker or may be missing altogether if:
- you are elderly,
- you have had diabetes for a long time,
- you suffer from a certain type of nervous disease (diabetic autonomic neuropathy),
- you have recently suffered hypoglycaemia (for example the day before) or if it develops slowly,
- you have almost normal or, at least, greatly improved blood sugar levels,
- you are taking or have taken certain other medicines (see section 2, “Other medicines and Apidra).
In such a case, you may develop severe hypoglycaemia (and even faint) before you are aware of the problem. Be familiar with your warning symptoms. If
necessary, more frequent blood sugar testing can help to identify mild hypoglycaemic episodes that may otherwise be overlooked. If you are not confident
about recognising your warning symptoms, avoid situations (such as driving a car) in which you or others would be put at risk by hypoglycaemia.
What should you do if you experience hypoglycaemia?
1. Do not inject insulin. Immediately take about 10 to 20 g sugar, such as glucose, sugar cubes or a sugar-sweetened beverage.
Caution: Artificial sweeteners and foods with artificial sweeteners (such as diet drinks) are of no help in treating hypoglycaemia.
2. Then eat something that has a long-acting effect in raising your blood sugar (such as bread or pasta). Your doctor or nurse should have discussed this
with you previously.
3. If the hypoglycaemia comes back again take another 10 to 20 g sugar.
4. Speak to a doctor immediately if you are not able to control the hypoglycaemia or if it recurs.
Tell your relatives, friends and close colleagues the following:
If you are not able to swallow or if you are unconscious, you will require an injection of glucose or glucagon (a medicine which increases blood sugar).
These injections are justified even if it is not certain that you have hypoglycaemia.
It is advisable to test your blood sugar immediately after taking glucose to check that you really have hypoglycaemia.