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October 11, 2000

Hypoglycemia

Question from Sheffield, Massachusetts, USA:

My friend wants to know what precautions she can take for her husband, who has type�1 diabetes, with regard to seizures. Her husband has had one 20 minute seizure since they married that scared her a lot. She administered Glucogel. When her husband was small, his mom used to give him sugar water when he had seizures. Is this method safe in terms of aspiration? They have an Australian Shepherd she'd like to train to help her husband when he's alone. Any ideas?

Answer:

I think your friend husband’s seizure doesn’t mean that their children should have seizures. Seizures, in people who have diabetes, generally come from hypoglycemia, especially when someone gets hypoglycemia unawareness. Glucogel is fine, and it’s worth teaching those living around people who have diabetes, even an Australian Shepherd, to recognise and handle hypoglycemia. Another idea would be to teach the person who has diabetes how to self monitor and self-manage his diabetes in order to minimize the risk of severe hypoglycemia. That is the only form of hypoglycemia that leads serious risk.

MS
Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

Also consider instruction in the use of glucagon for dealing with low blood glucoses in which the person can not swallow something like Glucogel. However, better control of the diabetes is at the top of the list. Perhaps, he should consider an insulin pump.

LSF

[Editor’s comment: If they can teach their dog to recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia, and let the family know (when they’re around), that’s probably the most that can be expected. If any reader has been able to train their dog to help more than that, please let us know!

WWQ]