How to Stay Safe When You Have Diabetes

We’ll help you prevent blood sugar dives no matter where you are.

Health Monitor Staff
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When you have diabetes, a too-low dip in blood sugar levels (from 100 mg/dL to 70 mg/dL) can trigger sudden fatigue, anxiety and shakiness. Dips to between 50 mg/dL and 70 mg/dL can make you feel sweaty and disoriented. At 50 mg/dL or below, you could pass out.

Luckily, taking a few precautions can lower your risk. Here’s how to stay safe when you’re…

…At the gym
Before starting any exercise program, get your doctor's okay, then take these steps: 

Before you get moving, make sure your blood sugar is in your target range. If your blood sugar is below 100 mg/dL, have a snack that includes 30 grams of carbs, like a small bowl of whole-grain cereal and skim milk.

Check your gym bag. Make sure it contains a source of fast-acting sugar, such as hard candy or glucose tablets.

During exercise that lasts longer than an hour, take a break after an hour and check your blood sugar. Have a snack, such as a glass of regular soda or raisins. 

After your workout, check your blood sugar often—exercise can cause blood sugar lows for up to 24 hours afterward.

…Behind the wheel
You wouldn’t drive after having a few too many glasses of wine. Well, when you have diabetes, hitting the road hungry can be just as bad, leading to low blood sugar levels that can cause you to zone out. So…

Before you leave: Always check your blood sugar. If it’s less than 100 mg/dL, have a snack—a hard-boiled egg, say—then wait 15 minutes and test again. Repeat, if necessary.

Stock the car: Keep hard candies, crackers and other fast-acting sugars within reach while driving.

If you’re driving an hour or more: Check your blood sugar every 2 to 4 hours. Add some substantial snacks—like cheese, trail mix and nuts—to your usual mobile snack supply. 

If you experience any symptoms of hypoglycemia, such as sweating, anxiety or shakiness, pull over ASAP. Check your blood sugar and treat a low before you get back to driving on the road.

…On the job
When you’re on deadline, it’s easy to lose track of meals and lose touch with how you’re feeling. To make it easier...

Set a discreet alarm. Use your phone, watch or computer to remind yourself it’s time to eat.

Keep nonperishable munchies at hand. Rice cakes, string cheese sticks and whole-wheat crackers are some good choices. 

Eat “favorite” meals and snacks. Whether it’s a turkey sandwich or nonfat yogurt and blueberries, sticking to a few standbys your body is used to digesting makes it easy to keep blood sugar steady. 

April 2013