DiabetesA new survey has found that a third of people failed to report night-time hypoglycaemia (or hypos) to their doctor or nurse despite the impact they have on the lives of people living with the condition.

Hypos are one of the most common diabetes complications yet of those who did report, the research shows that one-third felt more confident about managing their night-time hypos (34%).

The release of the survey findings coincides with this year’s TALK Hypos campaign, which focuses on encouraging people with diabetes to report day- and night-time hypos to their doctor or nurse. TALK Hypos is an awareness campaign from Novo Nordisk, supported by Diabetes UK, which coincides with Hypo Awareness Week (5–11 October).

Professor Anthony Barnett, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Birmingham and Consultant Physician Heart of England NHS Foundation, Birmingham, comments: “It is concerning that some patients are not reporting night-time hypos to their doctor or nurse, given the impact on their long-term health and lifestyle. People with diabetes who are experiencing either day- or night-time hypos are encouraged to speak to their doctor or nurse to ensure that they are being appropriately managed.”

There are about 3.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK. Hypos occur when glucose in the blood falls to a low level, and symptoms can include a pounding heart, trembling, hunger, difficulty concentrating and blurred vision. Symptoms of night-time hypos include waking up with a morning headache, night sweats and extreme tiredness. Night-time hypos can be of particular concern as they can be unpredictable and hard to detect. 

Night-time hypoglycaemia can be a regular burden for people with diabetes with approximately two-thirds (66%) of people having experienced a night-time hypo in the month prior to the survey. Night-time hypos have a significant impact on the lives of people living with diabetes and can lead to absenteeism from work (21%), a loss of productivity at work (12%) and a reduced desire to socialise (13%) and exercise (12%). Almost half of people (47%) reported that their sleep had been affected by night-time hypos, and one quarter (25%) of people are scared of being alone when experiencing a night-time hypo.

Worryingly, night-time hypos can also cause physical harm with one in seven people (14%) reporting having sustained an injury while experiencing a night-time hypo. The survey also found that one-third of people cope by making changes to their treatment (37%) without consulting their doctor or nurse.

TALK Hypos provides an acronym to encourage people with diabetes to discuss day- and night-time hypoglycaemia with their doctor or nurse:
• THINK: Do you know what a hypo is? Do you suffer from hypos?
• ASK: your doctor or nurse about hypos and discuss them as part of your consultation
• LEARN: what can be done to better manage your hypos, including lifestyle and treatment options
• KEEP: track of your hypos for discussion with your doctor or nurse

Simon O’Neill, Director of Health Intelligence for Diabetes UK, added: “We encourage all people with diabetes to remember the simple TALK Hypos message and to take steps to better manage their day- and night-time hypos. These steps can include simple changes to lifestyle, diet and treatment so it is very important to discuss hypos as part of the regular consultation with your doctor or nurse.”