While many of us neglect to even think about our blood sugar, for people with diabetes and fatty acid oxidation disorders (FAODs), not checking their blood sugar could be life-threatening.
Why Checking Blood Sugar Levels Is Necessary
People with FAODs struggle to metabolize fat. Because their bodies are unable to burn fat efficiently when sugar stores are low, it can lead to low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. If severe enough, this low blood sugar can cause a coma, seizures, and even death, especially in newborns. People with FAODs can also experience a specific type of hypoglycemia called hypoketotic hypoglycemia which results in low ketones and can cause other serious health problems.
One of the solutions to avoid this problem is eating at regular intervals and follow a restricted diet to ensure that blood sugar levels remain stable. Some newborns like those with GA2/MADD may even need to have a stomach tube that supplies a constant flow of carbohydrates. Because low blood sugar can be deadly, it is important that people with these disorders and their loved ones understand not only how to monitor blood sugar but also how to recognize the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar.
Low Blood Sugar Symptoms in FAODs
Whether you are a parent whose newborn child was just diagnosed with an FAOD or an adult who has developed diabetes, it is important that you know the signs of hypoglycemia. This is especially important for newborns. The sooner you know that there is a problem, the sooner you can get help.
Some common signs of low blood sugar include:
- Pale skin
- Lethargy or not being responsive
- Poor coordination
- Fainting or lightheadedness
- Loss of consciousness
- Mental confusion
- Blurred vision
- Slurred words
- Increased heartrate
What To Do If Your Loved One Is Showing Signs of Low Blood Sugar
If your loved one has a fatty acid oxidation disorder and is showing these blood sugar drop symptoms, it is important that you get help immediately. Typically, it is recommended that the person eat something such as a candy bar, glucose tablet, or something else high in sugar a little bit at a time. They should continue to do so every 15 minutes or so and monitor their blood sugar levels until they return to normal. If symptoms are more severe, you should seek immediate medical attention.
At the International Network for Fatty Acid Oxidation Research and Management (INFORM), we know that having a loved one with a fatty acid oxidation disorder can be scary, but we want to help. Visit our fatty acid oxidation disorder blog frequently for more tips and helpful insight to living with or having a loved one with one of these disorders.