Auckland woman has right response to public diabetes shock


Diabetes New Zealand says the symptoms of a diabetic shock may seem mild at first, but should not be ignored.

A Facebook video circulating online yesterday showed a mother from south Auckland helping another lady suffering from hypoglycaemia, a diabetic shock.

Jade Howard helped the stumbling woman off the street and into her car, giving her lollies after the woman's son said she needed something sweet. The video was filmed by Ms Howard's children from inside the car.

"People living with diabetes have most likely experienced a hypoglycaemia event, however public events are not common as people living with diabetes generally manage their diabetes well," says Diabetes New Zealand chief executive Steve Crew. "However it does happen from time to time."

Hypoglycaemia can cause changes in personality and cognitive function, with sufferers sometimes appearing intoxicated. Other symptoms include dizziness and sweating, clumsy movements, irritability and confusion. In severe cases, the person may actually fall unconscious.

Hypoglycaemia happens if the patient has taken too much insulin, or not had a meal. 

Priyanka Nayak from Diabetes New Zealand's mobile awareness service says Ms Howard did the right thing.

Ms Nayak says most people who use insulin carry glucose or sugar tablets in their pockets or have them handy, and they can tell if they're sugar levels are going below four mmol/L.

Sugar should be consumed, such as jellybeans or hypo gel, before the person takes another test to check their blood sugar levels. Some foods like fruit, which contains fibre, aren't absorbed immediately and aren't as effective.

This intake of sugar should be followed by a snack, such as a sandwich or fruit bar.

"It's important that not only the person living with diabetes, but their family and others around them, learn to recognise the signs of hypoglycaemia and know what to do about them. It could save their life," says Mr Crew.

He says many people living with diabetes know when their blood sugar is low, but if it's low enough they might not be lucid enough to recognise something is wrong.

This is why Ms Nayak says all diagnosed people should indicate they have diabetes.

"We ask that people make sure others are aware of their condition, especially if they are shopping by themselves.

"It's a very good idea to have something on them, a bracelet or wrist bank that says they've got type 2 or 1, or insulin-dependent because that's what really helps people around them."

The mobile awareness service allows people 25 or older to take a risk assessment to see if diabetes will affect them. If they score six or above they can take an HbA1c test, as well as their taking blood pressure and body mass index.

Test results are available within six minutes, and if the person's sugar levels are above the normal range, a management plan can be discussed with staff.

A confirmation test with a doctor after a few months is also needed.