People with diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2, can tell you that there are times when their disease can cause them to feel really lousy. They may feel “out of sorts”, have sudden mood swings, even feel grumpy or irritable. In fact, a diabetic can pretty much predict how they are going to feel if they eat certain foods that are not good for them, or their condition. But is it possible to actually faint at unfortunate moments from diabetes? In a way, yes, it is.
Fainting is, after all, a symptom of another condition. In other words, no one faints without an underlying reason. While there are many reasons why a non-diabetic would faint, there are also plenty of reasons why a diabetic would.
Hypoglycemia, or blood sugar that is unusually low is one. This can occur due to several reasons…
- one, is from medication… people with Type 2 diabetes who are taking hypoglycemic agents. This can inadvertently drop blood sugar too low even though it is supposed to help the condition.
- another way that will cause it to dip too low is from taking a higher dose of insulin than is needed.
- a third is from taking too long between meals. People with diabetes need to be aware of the possibility of low blood sugar, especially when skipping a meal or during bouts of strenuous exercise, which can rapidly lower blood sugar levels.
Low blood sugar occurs much more frequently in people with Type 1 diabetes, whose bodies don’t produce any insulin. Striving for tight blood sugar control can also increase episodes of low blood sugar.
The brain needs glucose or sugar, just like the rest of the body. When it is deprived of it, blood pressure drops too low. This causes the brain to act by releasing more cortisol to help handle the stressful situation that has been created, and adrenaline to react to the situation. All of this together is more than the brain wants to deal with so it temporarily shuts down, causing the individual to faint.
On the other end of the spectrum is hyperglycemia, or sugar levels that are too high…
- not taking insulin when it is needed can cause this,
- so can eating too many of the wrong foods at one meal,
- even certain medications can bring on a fainting episode.
Fainting is just the first step in elevated levels. If the condition is not rectified, next comes coma, and then death.
Believe it or not an individual can faint from damaged nerves. How? Nerves are the communication highways from the brain to the rest of the body. If certain nerves become neurologically damaged, it is like interrupting these signals from making their way through… much the same way a traffic accident stops the flow of traffic. Once this function is interrupted, part of the brain shuts off for a short while, and the individual faints.
While a fainting episode might seem mild, it is no joking matter when the person is a diabetic. Those around them need to have a good idea about what caused the fainting and seek medical help immediately.