One of the risks around diabetes, is that some people, can have a hypo, a very low blood sugar level. This does not happen to everyone, but it is important to understand if you are working with people who may be impacted by low blood sugar levels, so you know how to help them and keep you and them safe.
You may have heard people talking about hypos and that someone blacked out or looked drunk. A hypo (hypoglycaemia) is when blood sugar levels are too low, usually below 4mmol/l. This can happen when the balance of diabetes medication (especially insulin), food and physical activity isn’t right. Not everyone with diabetes will have hypos.
Why does this affect you, well if you have diabetes you should always carry the correct sugar and medication with you just in case your blood sugar levels drop. If you don’t have diabetes it is still very important that you know this because it may be one of your colleagues, friends or family members and you could save their lives or prevent them getting significantly worse. It may also save others lives if they are working out on site or driving. Noticing and treating a hypo early is key.
A hypo can happen quickly. So, it’s important you know what the symptoms are and what to do if you or someone you know is having a hypo.
Everyone has different symptoms, but the most common symptoms of a hypo are:
- trembling and feeling shaky
- being anxious or irritable
- going pale
- palpitations and a fast pulse
- lips feeling tingly
- blurred sight
- being hungry
- feeling tearful
- having a headache
- lack of concentration
It is often explained that the person having the hypo could look drunk in their behaviours. First aiders will know what needs to be done and often the person who is experiencing the hypo will be able to tell you want they need. Ensure first aiders are informed.
Diabetes can have an impact on people driving if on higher medications. There are many myths about driving and diabetes. You do not automatically lose your licence if you’re diagnosed.
The impact of diabetes on driving largely depends on the medication you use, how well controlled your diabetes is and whether you have any other health conditions that affect your ability to drive.
Being safe at the wheel is the most important thing, the risk amongst people with diabetes in general is very low blood sugar, known medically as severe hypoglycemia.
You will need to inform the DVLA if you are at a high risk of severe hypoglycaemia (see link for DVLA regulations). This will depend on the type of medication you are on and individual circumstances, so it is best to check with your doctor if you are at risk and need to inform the DVLA.
Also, remember to inform your motor insurance company to keep your insurance valid.
A driver who admitted to causing the death of woman in North Lanarkshire after suffering a diabetic fit was jailed for six years and eight months.
As yet there are no such regulations on construction sites and on unadopted roads. This is an area people need to be particularly careful, crane drivers for example are not under any regulation to test blood sugar levels like the DVLA states.