A common side effect of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is hypoglycemia. While this can occur at different times, one concern involves its occurrence at an inopportune time, such as before or after surgery. How do you handle this condition at such a time?
Hypoglycemia is a condition that affects diabetics when their blood sugar level becomes too low. This could be due to not eating the right foods or not eating food at the right intervals, such as skipping meals and snacks. Low blood sugar can be brought on by depleting the body’s glucose levels too quickly, such as with exercise. It can also be characteristic of an imbalance with your glucose or insulin.
For blood sugar to qualify as being hypoglycemic, it typically needs to be lower than 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L). Having a blood sugar level this low can be extremely dangerous. If the situation isn’t corrected immediately, it can lead to a host of complications, up to and including shock and without treatment, eventually, death.
When an individual has scheduled surgery, the threat of hypoglycemia needs to be addressed. The first thing the individual needs to do is to make sure their surgeon is aware of their condition. Hopefully, the diabetic’s primary care doctor will have already taken care of notifying the surgeon. Once the surgeon is aware of the situation, they can then make arrangements to prevent an episode from occurring. If the surgery is major and you will be missing out on meals, you should have intravenous therapy.
But what happens if the diabetic has to undergo surgery that isn’t planned? This is where having the proper identification of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes will be necessary. Being equipped with a diabetes bracelet or necklace will help in the event you are not able to communicate this information to those who will be providing the treatment.
Whether the surgery is planned or not, the attending doctor will still need to make arrangements so you do not experience a hypoglycemic episode. How do they do that? As most surgeries are performed when the diabetic has an empty stomach (to help prevent post-operative nausea and vomiting), it is the usual for intravenous therapy containing glucose be inserted prior to surgery.
The best plan is to make sure the diabetic has a recent history of stable blood sugar levels. This will go a long way in preventing an episode from occurring if they have been closely regulating their blood sugar ahead of time. The likelihood of an episode occurring is also reduced if the Type 2 diabetic is not currently on medication for their condition.
If the surgery is not planned, the only thing you can do is to make sure all the medical staff know about your Type 2 diabetes.