People living with diabetes are not the only ones impacted by the condition. According to a new international study of 4,300 family members of people with diabetes, worrying about low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycaemia or ‘hypos’, can impact greatly on them too.
Low blood sugar or “lows” as they are often referred to by people living with diabetes, are a well-known side-effect of some diabetes treatments, especially when using insulin, and they can be very unpleasant and dangerous if not managed properly.
Until now, there has been very little research into the impact of low blood sugar on the family members of people with diabetes. The results from this new international TALK-HYPO study, recently published in Diabetes Therapy, show that up to 64% of family members of people with diabetes are concerned about the risk of low blood sugar,1 highlighting the significance of this for the whole family.
The study also shows the importance of having more conversations about low blood sugar at home with the family, as well as with doctors, as 76% believe that these conversations could lead to improvements in the life of their family member with diabetes.1 The respondents also feel that conversations can help bring them closer together, and increases their understanding of how they can better help to manage the low blood sugar that their family member with diabetes experiences (85%).1
Another interesting finding is that worrying about the risk of low blood sugar can also have a negative impact on the social life of family members. Almost three in four (74%) of the respondents that were helping their relative with diabetes to manage low blood sugar, said that they missed out on other activities including hobbies or being with other friends or family as a result.1
With more than 50% of the 225,000 Irish people with diabetes at risk of low blood sugar, these findings are very important. To further understand how low blood sugar affects families living with diabetes, Novo Nordisk conducted a series of filmed experiments. In the experiments the person with diabetes and his/her family members were asked similar questions about their experiences with, and feelings about, low blood sugar in two separate rooms. After the interviews, they were shown each other’s answers.
The films are available at www.TalkAboutHypos.com, and https://www.diabetes.ie/living-with-diabetes/living-type-1/talkhypos/ along with materials that could help improve conversations about low blood sugar within the family, as well as with doctors.