FIRST AID: Recognising and dealing with hypoglycaemia

St John Ambulance gives advice on how to recognise and deal with hypoglycaemia
St John Ambulance gives advice on how to recognise and deal with hypoglycaemia
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St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity, has teamed up with The Portsmouth News to bring you some simple, but life-saving, first aid tips.

Hypoglycaemia is where the blood sugar level is lower than normal. It can be caused by an imbalance between the level of insulin and the level of glucose in the blood. Someone with diabetes may recognise the onset of a hypoglycaemic episode.

What to look for:

n Weakness, faintness or hunger

n Confusion and irrational behaviour

n Sweating with cold, clammy skin

n Rapid pulse

n Palpitations

n Trembling or shaking

n Deteriorating level of response

n Medical warning jewellery or medication

What to do:

1. If you suspect hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), help the person to sit down. If they have their own glucose gel or glucose tablets, help them take it. If not, you need to give them something sugary, such as an 150ml glass of fruit juice or non-diet fizzy drink; three teaspoons of sugar or sugar lumps; or three sweets such as jelly babies.

2. If they improve quickly, give them more of the sugary food or drink and let them rest. If they have their blood glucose testing kit with them, help them use it to check their blood sugar level. Stay with them until they feel completely better.

3. If they do not improve quickly, look for any other reason why they could be unwell and call 999 or 112 for emergency help.

4. Keep monitoring their breathing and level of response while waiting for help to arrive. If they are not fully alert, don’t try to give them something to eat or drink as they may choke. If they become unresponsive at any point, open their airway, check their breathing and prepare to give CPR.

As the nation’s leading first aid charity, St John Ambulance believes that nobody should die because they needed first aid and didn’t get it. St John Ambulance teaches people first aid so that they can be the difference.

For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and sja.org.uk offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice.

For more information about first aid courses please call 0303 003 0101.