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The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of real-world hypoglycemia experiences from people living with diabetes. An exploratory cross-sectional study of a convenience sample of 374 English-speaking adults affected by diabetes using an online survey was conducted. Participant mean age was 37 years with an average diabetes duration of 21 years. On average, participants reported feeling hypoglycemia at 64 mg/dL (3.6 mmol/L), worrying about hypoglycemia at 63 mg/dL (3.5 mmol/L), and treating hypoglycemia at 72 mg/dL (4 mmol/L). Terminology used by study participants did not match the current classifications of hypoglycemia used in clinical research. Participants who have been told they have hypoglycemia unawareness treat at a significantly lower level compared to those without hypoglycemia unawareness. Only 58% always carry hypoglycemia treatment; there was a relationship with increasing age and always carrying hypoglycemia treatment. Thirty-eight percent of participants treat hypoglycemia with the recommended 15 g of carbohydrate (CHO). Survey respondents who wore continuous glucose monitors reported using significantly less CHO to treat hypoglycemia. In the real world, experiences related to feeling, worrying about, and treating hypoglycemia trend higher than what is noted in the standardized hypoglycemia classifications. Study findings have implications for teaching and supporting people with diabetes who experience hypoglycemia. Consuming less CHO to treat hypoglycemia could lead to fewer episodes of rebound hyperglycemia and less weight gain. Increased support for continuous glucose monitoring is warranted.


Jane K Dickinson, Michelle L Litchman. Understanding Hypoglycemia in the Real World. The science of diabetes self-management and care. 2022 Aug;48(4):270-280

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PMID: 35658618

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