2 October 2019

Sheffield Hospitals diabetes team to take part in national hypoglycaemia campaign

The diabetes team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are to take part in a seven-day national campaign aimed at raising awareness of hypoglycaemia, a condition that occurs when a person with diabetes’ blood glucose level drops too low.

During Hypo Awareness Week, which runs from Monday 30 September to Sunday 6 October, the diabetes team will be running a number of information stands where members of the public and staff can find out more about hypoglycaemia, the symptoms of hypos and how they can be treated. This will include a demonstration of hospital ‘hypo boxes’ which contain all the necessary equipment that is needed to treat both mild and severe hypoglycaemia from glucose drinks to intravenous glucose.

In addition, a week-long series of profiles highlighting specialist diabetes roles will be posted on the Trust’s Facebook and social media accounts. There will also be opportunities to find out about the research the Trust carries out to help further understand the effects and management of hypoglycaemia.

Hypoglycaemia or hypos, take place when the blood glucose levels of people with insulin treated diabetes, drops too low.

Cheryl Smith, diabetes nurse specialist said: “The campaign will involve a wide range of diabetes specialists from across the Trust, including community and hospital nurses, pharmacists and leading researchers. By sharing information about this potentially devastating complication of diabetes, we hope to educate members of the public, patients and staff that there are simple steps that can be followed to prevent and manage hypoglycaemic episodes.”

For more information about Hypo Awareness Week 2019 visit https://hypoawarenessweek.com/

Andrew’s story

Andrew Drummond has lived with type 1 diabetes, managed with daily injections of insulin, since he was a teenager. In the past Andrew has had problems recognising his symptoms of hypoglycaemia which has meant that there have been occasions when he has experienced severe hypos and needed treatment. However, since taking part in a study at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust he’s been free of severe hypos for two years.

Andrew Drummond, 31, of Sheffield has lived with type 1 diabetes since he was 12 years old and began to have problematic hypos as a teenager.

“My early years following diagnosis were particularly challenging and I didn’t always make the best decisions when it came to managing my diabetes. At times I’d take extra insulin to try to keep my glucose levels from going high as I didn’t want other kids to think I was different so I didn’t test my glucose levels regularly,” Andrew said.

For Andrew, this led to frequent and often severe hypos as Andrew was not always able to identify the symptoms of hypos in time to treat them and recover easily.

“I’d begun to have severe episodes of hypoglycaemia which on occasions resulted in me having hypos which would culminate in a seizure. This happened on the school field, local parks, a tent in Africa, a hotel room in New York and at local football stadium to pick a handful of instances.”

“I already knew a lot about type 1 diabetes and engaged in managing my condition but once you start to have severe hypos you can often begin to lose the warning signs of low sugar levels. This happened to me and by the time I would feel hypo warning signs (fast heartbeat, shakiness, sweating etc) my glucose levels were already dangerously low leaving me with little time to consume fast acting glucose before another seizure. I was ready for anything further the diabetes team could offer to me.”

In September 2017 Andrew joined the Hypoglycaemia Awareness Restoration Programme for people with type 1 diabetes (HARPdoc) study. The aim of this study is to help people like Andrew regain awareness of their hypo symptoms in order to reduce their risk of further episodes of severe hypos.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of only four sites in the UK, and five in the world, taking part in the research.

During the study Andrew has attended intensive peer and professional support sessions and used different techniques, such as talking therapies, to understand thoughts and beliefs that may be present as possible barriers to regaining awareness of hypoglycaemia.

“My physical and mental health is the best it’s ever been. Since joining the study I’ve not had a severe episode of hypoglycaemia. For me last year hitting one year without a severe hypo was a major milestone, so now to hit the two year mark feels like my life has very much now changed for the better.”


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