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Diabetic Seizures: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

Diabetic SeizuresAmanda had been living with diabetes for nearly a decade when she experienced her first seizure related to the condition. She was at work when suddenly, everything went black. When she came back to her senses, she was in an ambulance headed to the hospital.

At the hospital, Amanda’s doctor explained that her seizure was likely caused by a sudden drop in blood sugar levels. Despite her years of experience managing her diabetes, Amanda had never experienced anything like this before. The experience left her feeling shaken and vulnerable.

After the seizure, Amanda made some changes to her diabetes management routine. She started carrying glucose tablets with her at all times, so that she could quickly raise her blood sugar levels if needed. She also began checking her blood sugar levels more frequently, and made an effort to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to help keep her levels stable.

While the experience was scary, Amanda was grateful for the support of her family, friends, and healthcare team. She learned that managing diabetes is an ongoing process, and that it’s important to be vigilant and adaptable as her needs can change over time. Today, Amanda is doing well and has not experienced another diabetes-related seizure. She is committed to taking care of her health and raising awareness about the importance of proper diabetes management.

What are diabetic seizures?

A diabetic seizure is a severe medical problem associated with hypoglycemia. Also known as hypoglycemic seizure or insulin shock, the condition results from severely low blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Statistics show that seizures due to low blood sugar (hypoglycemic seizures) occur in about 8% of people with type 1 diabetes and less than 1% of those with type 2 diabetes. While seizures are a relatively uncommon complication of diabetes, they can be serious and even life-threatening if left untreated. That’s why it’s so important for people with diabetes to be vigilant about managing their blood sugar levels and seeking medical help if they experience any symptoms of a seizure.

What are the symptoms of diabetes seizures?

In many cases, people who experience diabetes-related seizures are not fully aware of what is happening during the seizure itself. This is because seizures can cause a loss of consciousness or altered mental state that can make it difficult to remember or understand what is happening. However, it is also possible for people to experience certain warning signs or symptoms before a seizure occurs. These can include dizziness, confusion, weakness, blurred vision, sweating, and anxiety. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to take action to raise your blood sugar levels and prevent a seizure from occurring. If you do experience a seizure, it’s important to seek medical help right away.

Apart from these reactions, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Vision changes
  • Speech problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Faintness
  • Emotional alterations

What causes a diabetic seizure?

“Diabetes seizures are caused by a rapid drop in blood sugar levels, which can occur when a person with diabetes skips meals, exercises more than usual, or takes too much insulin or other diabetes medications. When blood sugar levels drop too low (below 70 mg/dL), the brain may not receive enough glucose to function properly, which can lead to seizures.” says Dr. Richard O’Brien, an endocrinologist from The United States of America.

Take preventive actions if any of the following apply to you:

  • Excessive insulin injections can lower blood sugar levels, triggering a seizure.
  • Inadequate consumption of carbohydrates or delayed meals can affect blood sugar maintenance. This often leads to hypoglycemia.
  • Engaging in prolonged activities or intense physical exercises can increase the risk of seizures because of the rapid depletion of blood sugar levels, especially without adjusting insulin or food intake.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption affects the liver’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels. It contributes to hypoglycemia, potentially causing diabetic seizures.

How to prevent diabetic seizures?

If Amanda were to offer advice to other patients who are vulnerable to diabetes seizures, she might suggest the following:

1. Be prepared: Always carry a source of fast-acting glucose with you, such as glucose tablets, juice, or candy. This way, if you experience a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, you can quickly raise them and prevent a seizure.

2. Check your blood sugar levels frequently: Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly can help you catch any sudden drops or spikes before they become serious.

3. Eat small, frequent meals: Eating several small meals throughout the day, instead of a few large ones, can help keep your blood sugar levels stable.

4. Don’t hesitate to seek help: If you’re experiencing symptoms of a diabetes-related seizure, such as dizziness, confusion, or blurred vision, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

5. Work closely with your healthcare team: Your doctor and other healthcare providers can help you develop a diabetes management plan that works for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or voice any concerns you may have about your condition.

What to do when someone experiences a diabetic seizure?

“If someone with diabetes experiences a seizure, it’s important to take immediate action. First, make sure the person is safe and cannot injure themselves during the seizure. Do not try to restrain them or put anything in their mouth. You can help prevent the seizure from worsening by giving the person a fast-acting source of glucose, such as juice or candy, to raise their blood sugar levels. If the person is unconscious or not responsive, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for immediate medical attention.” says Dr. Anne Peters, a diabetes specialist.

Stay calm and follow these steps:

  • Call for emergency medical help.
  • Remove any nearby objects that may cause harm to the person during a seizure.
  • If vomiting occurs, gently roll the person onto their side to prevent choking.
  • Do not restrain the individual during the seizure.
  • Once it subsides, monitor the person and provide further medical attention.

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