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A nightmare for people with diabetes

| On 30, Jan 2015

Can you pass out when you’re asleep? Apparently people with diabetes can, and it’s not at all uncommon. But it can be frightening and dangerous.

When blood glucose levels plummet, people with diabetes start sweating, feeling dizzy and weak, and some lose consciousness. Called hypoglycaemia, it’s bad enough when this occurs during daylight hours, but about 50% of hypoglycaemic events happen at night without the awareness of the patient or family members.

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The only indication of nocturnal hypoglycaemia is possibly waking feeling unusually tired, sweaty (clammy neck), or with a heavy head. “If left untreated,” warns Dr Daphne Gardner, Consultant, Department of Endocrinology at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), “especially for patients who are unaware of the warning signs, hypoglycaemia can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness or even death.”

Not surprisingly, experiencing hypoglycaemia leaves people with diabetes anxious and often depressed concluded a study by SGH doctors. Dr Goh Su Yen, Head and Senior Consultant Department of Endocrinology, SGH stressed the importance of “getting the right dose of insulin, self-blood glucose monitoring, appropriate nutrition and continual discussions with your diabetes healthcare team.”

A no-brainer you think? Yet for various reasons including lack of awareness and regular self -blood-glucose monitoring, too many are not bothering to keep to the required regimen.

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To commemorate World Diabetes Day 2014 (14 November) and to raise awareness about hypoglycemia, SGH partnered healthcare company Novo Nordisk. Artist Felicia Low encouraged patients to give form to their feelings about hypoglycaemia through paintings. These will be on the SGH ArtsExpressions wall until mid-February 2015.

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A group of SGH diabetes patients expressed their journey with nocturnal hypoglycemia in the form of an artwork using Chinese ink.

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Sunflower” by Sharon Ho. This colorful sunflower portrays her love for her family and friends.

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Top painting: “Life’s routine get broken” by Sharon Tan , Bottom painting: “Shakes and Shivers” by Sim Teck How”

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