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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes Symptoms to Never Ignore

By Renee Bacher
WebMD Feature

One of the keys to leading a healthy life with diabetes is to keep your glucose levels, or blood sugar, in check. As your main source of energy, glucose plays a big role in keeping your body working like it should. If you have either type of diabetes, you need to be aware of symptoms that may mean your glucose is out of balance.

If your blood sugar is too low:

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Symptom: Acting Drunk or Losing Consciousness

Your brain can be affected if your sugar level drops too low.

Low glucose can cause you to stagger, slur words, or even pass out.

What to do: It's smart to wear a medical bracelet or necklace that lets people know you have diabetes.

If your blood sugar gets too low, taking in about 15 to 20 grams of a simple carb may help. Some examples are a half a cup of orange juice, 2 tablespoons of raisins, or a tablespoon of sugar. Glucose tablets and gel tubes are also available. Some people keep an injectable hormone called glucagon on hand and tell their friends how to give them the shot in case they faint or can’t swallow. Ask your doctor if keeping glucagon on hand is right for you.

If you still don't feel like yourself after drinking juice or getting a glucagon shot, call 911. If your blood sugar returns to your target range, eat a meal or snack to prevent it from dropping again.

Always let your doctor know if you had an episode of low blood sugar. Your treatment plan may have to be adjusted.

If your blood sugar is too high:

Symptom: Excessive Urination

It's normal to release as much as 84 ounces of urine a day -- that's about 2 liters. Since you probably don’t measure your urine output at home, you may have to figure out whether you're making too much of it.

What to do: “Waking at night to urinate and urinating larger amounts than usual can mean something is wrong,” says David Michael Erani, MD. He is an endocrinologist at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston and an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. People with an overactive bladder or men with an enlarged prostate may urinate frequently as well. But as long as the actual amount has not increased, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have uncontrolled glucose.

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