A seizure can be quite serious and can be a scary experience for not just the person experiencing it but for the people around. While seizures are caused due to many reasons, one of the prime reasons for a seizure to occur is when people have epilepsy. Amongst 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 which is caused due to extremely low levels of blood sugar.
On National Epilepsy Day, we tell you everything about diabetic seizures, their symptoms, causes and treatments.
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 behaviour, disruption of senses, or 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, or the research is still not able to prove. 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 the 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 seizure. While this is quite uncommon, it is equally dangerous.
What are the causes?
There are multiple causes for a diabetic seizure to occur. It can happen due to too much insulin being injected, or because not having regular meals, or even not eating right after an insulin shot. Sometimes, drinking too much alcohol too can cause a drop in the blood sugar, thus leading to seizure. Here are the common things that can cause a drop in the 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
Symptoms of Diabetic Seizures
When entering the first stages of seizure, the person may show some of the following signs:
– Bodily shakes
– 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
Prevention of Diabetic Seizures
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 the 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 the 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 before bedtime.
– Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and eat when you notice a drop in your blood sugar levels
Treatment of Diabetic Seizures
One of the essential things to do when a person experiences diabetic seizure is to provide immediate treatment to him/her. 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 recheck 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 dropped 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, 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 it 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, become aware of the condition and are able to help.
While all the above are short-term solutions, it is important to accept that diabetes has no cure, and it is progressive in nature. Therefore, it is your responsibility to manage your condition. On National Epilepsy Day, we remind you to make sure to discuss the possibility of diabetic seizures with your doctor.
Also read: Blood sugar level chart by age