Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar), Diabetes Testing and Driving
Because hypoglycemia can effect your driving performance (even modestly low blood sugar can do this), if you are at all prone to hypoglycemia, I personally would strongly recommend you check out your blood sugar level each time you are about to drive.
Prior to you putting the key in the ignition, test your blood sugar. There are some great glucometers out there, like the Accu-Check Compact with the Accu-Check Multi-clix lancet pen.
The Accu-Check Compact has a 17 strip drum inside so you don't have to take any extra strips with you. The Accu-Check Multi-clix lancet pen has a drum that automatically holds 6 lancets within the pen to use quickly and easily. Again, you won't have to bring any lancets separately with you. If your blood sugar is low, treat yourself to some juice or hard candy and don't drive until your blood sugar is back to normal. Usually 80 mg/dl and higher you should feel better. Then try and eat a small meal, like a low fat cheese and/or turkey sandwich.
Usually in 15 minutes taking 15-20 grams of Carbohydrate (CHO) will usually bring up your blood sugar to normal range. You can have a 4-6 ounce glass of juice, glucose tablets or 2-3 pieces of hard candy. Don't overdo it because your blood sugar will then go sky high. If it doesn't return within normal limits in 15 minutes, repeat the 15-20 grams of CHO and then check your blood sugar in 15 minutes.
Usually if your blood sugar is above 80 mg/dl, you should feel fine but sometimes going above 100 mg/dl, you'll feel better. You should always follow with a small meal that contains CHO, protein that contains a small amount of fat.
Always make sure you have something to eat right within reach in the car (not in the trunk!). I tell my father to put 2-3 peppermint candy right in his pocket and have a supply of hard candy or peppermint candy always stashed in his car.
It is best if you eat 6-8 small meals a day. This would include a CHO, protein food that contains a little fat included. Example would be a cheese sandwich that contains either 1 or 2 slices of bread, a cheese that is low fat or turkey low in fat but not fat free. The protein and fat does help to stablize your blood sugar over a period of time instead of a quick spike in your blood sugar and a quick drop in blood sugar like juice would do.
During your trip if you need to take an insulin injection or an oral blood sugar medication, then make sure you eat as prescibed with your medication, otherwise your blood sugar can go low. I will be writing about how insulin and certain oral blood sugar medications can make your sugar go low. Not all insulin, esp. Lantus, or oral diabetic medications make your blood sugar low.
Signs of Hypoglycemia:
**Cold sweat, faintness, dizziness
**Pounding of heart, trembling, nervousness
**Not able to awaken
Now you can also have problems driving if your blood sugar is over 200 mg/dl. My father got in an accident because his blood sugar was over 200, he was becoming confused and at the same time had a Urinary Tract Infection. The police officer told me that a diabetic's license can be revoked if an accident is caused by diabetes. I don't know if that is true but why risk losing your license altogether if this is the case.
If you were going to be driving for any sort of extended time, every so often find an appropriate place to pull across and retest your blood. When it comes to driving: if in doubt, check out your blood sugar & eat!
Fern Kuhn, RN
Specializing in Diabetes
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