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December 4, 2007

Symptoms for high and low blood sugars are a funny thing, aren’t they?

Some of us have them only when we’re low, some of us have them when we’re low and high and some of us don’t have them at all.

Some of us feel shaky and weak. Some of us feel thirsty and nauseated. Some of us have numb tongues. Some of us get silly like we’re drunk.

It’s weird, isn’t it?

I have been thinking about symptoms a lot lately, mostly because I seem to be spending quite a bit of time outside my target range. My symptoms of high blood sugar seem pretty textbook. I get really thirsty, like yesterday, when I had finished my third can of coke in an hour when I realized, “Hm, perhaps I should test…” and found myself floating away into the 300s. I also get nauseated, especially in the early morning when I have to go from no energy to high energy in order to get showered and dressed and packed within all too short of time because I have an inability to get up in the single digits.

This morning, when I woke up, I had an extraordinarily hard time getting myself out of bed. I ignored both my alarms and waited until literally the last second before finally convincing myself that I really really need to get up. My blood sugar was  341 mg/dl. I haven’t tested this theory yet, but I’m wondering if this is another symptom. If it’s true that when my blood sugar is high that I have a hard time waking up, this might actually help wake me up because I’ll know that my blood sugar is high and that I need to test and give a correction bolus.

My lows are bit strange, I feel. The only appropriate word I have found is: Painful. They hurt. A very strong ache in my hands and in my lower legs and feet. When I clench my fist, it hurts even worse.

In the middle of the night, the pain so intense I often find myself writhing in bed. I believe it’s worse at night because it takes more effort on my body’s part to rouse me out of my dead-to-the-world slumber, so I’m usually lower in the middle of the night than when I feel my lows when I’m awake.

I don’t remember lows always hurting. When I was younger, I certainly got very weak. I think I have always felt my lows, but I was also eight years old when I was diagnosed so I was much more aware of my own body and could communicate what was going on. I always assumed the older I got, the less sensitive I would be, but I find that isn’t the case for me. It seems that the older I get, the more sensitive I am, or at least, the symptoms themselves change in some way to make them more noticeable.  Maybe someone should track this (though I certainly wouldn’t want it nominated for Scott’s Dumb Diabetes Research Award!). Also, if you could track something like symptoms and what happens physiologically, I wonder if there is some way you could trick the body into producing whatever it is again and make someone who is hypo-unaware aware again.

I’ll have to make more observations about my own symptoms, including my dawn hyperglycemia symptoms, before I’ll know for sure, but if you feel so inclined, leave a comment and tell me about your own blood sugar symptoms. I’m interested to hear about them.

  1. Emma permalink
    December 4, 2007 3:29 PM

    Well, I was only diagnosed type 1 about 5 months ago, but my symptoms are fairly consistant. When I’m low I sometimes, but not always, get hungry and weak. Sometimes I just feel ‘spacey’. And other times I’ll just have a strong feeling that I SHOULD test.
    When I’m high I feel like… well, the only way I can really describe it is like there’s a film of grease over my eyes. Kind of like I feel when my glasses are dirty. I also have to pee every 10 minutes, and sometimes I drink more than usual. But when I get really high (like 500s high) I generally won’t get any symptoms. I’m always more tired in the morning after I’ve been high, but then, that might be because I spend most of the night in the bathroom.

  2. December 4, 2007 4:07 PM

    I am more often low than high in the morning. And I can’t get out of bed. The more low I am the sleepier I am.

    The clearest ‘low’ symptom I have is that my heart hurts. I have never had a panic attack, but I think it feels like that because my chest gets really tight. The only other symptom I have almost every time is that my vision gets grey spots in it. It is not fuzzy vision like I am going to pass out, it is just weird spots. Other times, I will get the shakes or sweat or the other common symptons, but the chest pain is every time.

    Highs? Not sure I actually ever feel them. I guess might have to use the bathroom more, but I can’t remember ever having the symptoms other people describe when they are higher. Hmm, that’s interesting to me now, I wonder why I don’t …

  3. pearlsa permalink
    December 4, 2007 6:00 PM

    Hi Allison,

    Morning highs make me not want to wake up too. Kind of like I have not had enough sleep and need to go on sleeping

  4. December 5, 2007 9:54 AM

    When I’m low, I’m extremely hungry and alwaaays want a pb&j sandwich. I know, it’s kind of weird. Oh , and I can tend to be really mean and easily upset and tired all at the same time, along with blurred vision and a headache. High- I’m usually really hyper and goofy before I end up being extremly tired, lethargic, and nauseous… yeah, my symptoms are kind of all over the place lol

  5. December 5, 2007 1:19 PM

    When I’m low I don’t often get symptoms. And when I do get them, they’re very varied. Weepiness, hunger, physical shock from loud noises (yells or doors slamming), fatigue, a kind of flicker in the corner of my eyes when I look at things.

    When I’m high I’m tired, thirsty and generally irritable.

    Good topic Allison.

  6. Michele permalink
    December 5, 2007 7:15 PM

    My hubby’s the one with diabetes, but when he’s low, I can tell you he’s of the “silly, acting drunk” type. He also gets quite sweaty, and I can always tell when he’s low in the morning because he doesn’t jump up when the alarm rings.
    Re the feeling your lows topic. I read somewhere that the more lows you have, the less you feel them, that your body adapts to them, so the best way to be aware of hypos again is to stay on the higher end for a while. This worked for my dh. I’m guessing you feel that you’re more sensitive now since you maybe have better control then when you were younger?

  7. December 5, 2007 11:39 PM

    I also can’t get myself up when my blood sugar is high. I mean, let me be honest. I can’t get up in the morning when my blood sugar is a perfect 105 either, but it’s definitely worse/harder when I’m high. I get drowsiness, lethargy with highs when I’m awake, so not being able to wake up makes sense to me.

    One thing my dr. mentioned to be about neuropathy (sorry to drop that topic in here, but information is good, right?) was that there’s 2 time things about it – long term feeling it from damage, but also she said that it’s a short term issue too. Like when my blood sugars are high, I might at that moment feel it when I don’t usually, or more than usual (I only have minor feet tinglies, nothing serious, so I haven’t had a lot of pain or anything). i wonder if that might be true for a low too? though intense, whole body pain like you had maybe wouldn’t make sense…

  8. Allison permalink*
    December 6, 2007 9:45 AM

    I have the same tingly feeling when I’m high as well. I asked my endo about it and she said that when blood sugar is high, nerves are more irritated and that can cause the tingly sensation, although that isn’t neuropathy in the traditional sense. That comes much more with age and constant high blood sugars and is more intense in pain.

    For my lows, it isn’t a whole body sensation, it is just my hands and my legs, it’s just that in the middle of the night, the pain is much, much stronger.

  9. December 15, 2007 11:30 PM

    I find that my symptoms change periodically. It’s very confusing. I’m still trying to deal with feeling LOW when my blood sugar is 200 mg/dl!

    I definitely get sleepy and lethargic when really high.

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