A seizure can be quite serious and can be a scary experience for not just the person experiencing it but for the people around them. While seizures are caused due to many reasons, one of the prime reasons for a seizure to occur is when people have epilepsy. Among the different types of seizures, diabetic seizures can sometimes turn into an emergency quite quickly. Proven to be fatal in nature, a diabetic seizure is a serious medical condition that is caused due to extremely low levels of blood sugar.
Diabetic Seizure: All you need to know
Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that occurs due to an electrical storm in the brain. Mostly, people who have recurrent or repetitive seizures can experience loss of consciousness, abnormal behavior, disruption of the senses, or at times all of the above. Though most causes of epilepsy are not known, studies have indicated that they can occur or trigger due to loud noises, rigorous physical stimulation, or even small as flickering light, loud noises, or physical stimulation.
There is no relationship between epilepsy and diabetes, and research is still not able to prove it. Therefore, anybody that has a seizure must test to find the exact cause.
A diabetic seizure occurs when the sugar levels in the blood are extremely low (below 30 mg/dL). The brain needs glucose to function properly. When there is a drop in blood sugar, the actions of the neurons in the brain decrease and the person experiences a seizure.
Please note high blood sugar can also cause seizure activity in the brain. Extremely high blood sugar levels in the brain can cause hyperexcitability of the neurons, thus leading to a short circuit in the brain and seizures. While this is quite uncommon, it is equally dangerous.
What are the Causes of Diabetic Seizures?
There are multiple causes for a diabetic seizure to occur. It can happen due to too much insulin being injected, or because of not having regular meals, or even not eating right after an insulin shot. Sometimes, drinking too much alcohol, too, can cause a drop in blood sugar, thus leading to seizures. Here are the common things that can cause a drop in blood sugar levels and lead to a seizure:
- Due to insulin shock or insulin reaction
- Not eating the right meals
- Too much intake of alcohol as it lowers liver glucose production.
- Rigorous exercise
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When entering the first stages of a seizure, the person may show some of the following signs:
- Rapid and unexpected emotional changes
- Weakness in the muscles
- Changes in vision
- Loss of ability to speak clearly
A diabetic seizure happens when blood sugar is low, and the person can experience the following symptoms:
- Uncontrollable body movements
- Staring into space
While at night, if a person experiences a diabetic seizure, a person may wake up with the following symptoms:
- Severe headache
The best way to prevent a diabetic seizure is by having proper control of your blood sugar levels. Here are ways to avoid or prevent low blood sugar seizures:
- Do not skip or take big gaps in between meals. A steady intake of food is necessary as it helps in maintaining sugar levels.
- Take your medications on time and ensure you inject the right amount of insulin.
- If you wish to consume alcohol, make sure you eat something along with it. Moreover, limit your consumption as much as possible.
- Exercising is good for your sugar levels. However, excessive activity can drop your sugar levels. Keep a snack with you all the time and check your sugar levels before bedtime.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and eat when you notice a drop in your blood sugar levels.
One of the essential things to do when a person experiences a diabetic seizure is to provide immediate treatment to them. However, in the process, there are two factors to be considered:
- Prevent any form of injury
- Get enough glucose in the body
During the early stages, when the seizure has not occurred, but you notice the symptoms, it is best to manage by giving at least 15 grams of fast glucose and rechecking the blood in the next 10 minutes. You can provide:
- Glucose tablets
- Snacks such as crackers or bars
Please ensure the person can swallow food items before you offer them, otherwise, it might choke them.
However, if the person’s sugar levels are dropping extremely, then you must follow the guidelines:
- Get medical help
- Help the person to the floor and make enough space near the person
- Make sure you track things such as how long did the seizure last, how was the person acting before, and how did the body move
- Ensure you stay with them until proper help arrives
- Do not give them anything to eat unless they are completely awake
- Loosen the clothes around the neck and waist
- Check for any injuries
One of the easiest ways to treat diabetic seizures is to not let them occur in the first place. This can be done with regular monitoring of blood sugar levels. Moreover, a person living with diabetes must always carry glucose tablets or any source of sugar handy at all times.
If at all you or someone near you experience the symptoms, simply providing the source can bring back the sugar levels to normal. Another way to prevent emergencies is by wearing an emergency bracelet or a card that others can see, becoming aware of the condition and can help.
While all the above are short-term solutions, it is important to accept that diabetes has no cure, and is progressive in nature. Therefore, it is your responsibility to manage your condition.
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