How does hypoglycaemia impact on quality of life?

Hypo-RESOLVE researchers asked adults with type 1 diabetes about their experiences with hypoglycaemia

By Hannah Chatwin

Low blood glucose (known as hypoglycaemia or “hypo”) affects people’s daily lives and well-being. Researchers have mainly focused on the impact of hypos on emotional well-being. But we don’t know much about the impact on other areas of life. To find out more, we invited adults with type 1 diabetes to take part in an online study.

First, we asked what areas of life are important to their overall quality of life. They told us: their relationships, work/studies, leisure, everyday life, sleep, sex life, physical health, and mental health.

Second, we asked people how hypos affect these areas of their lives. Here’s what they told us:

      • Hypos often interrupt what they are doing.
      • Hypos mean that they can’t always take part in, or perform well on, activities.
      • Hypos mean that they are often exhausted and can’t concentrate.
      • They are worried about hypos. The risk of hypo is often on their mind. Many check their glucose repeatedly and keep their glucose higher to prevent hypos.
      • Hypos mean that they can’t be as spontaneous because they must make plans around hypos.

This study shows that hypos affect many aspects of life. Adults with type 1 diabetes may need support to deal with hypoglycaemia. This starts with health professionals asking people how they are affected by hypos and discussing what support they need to reduce the burden.

To read about more of our research on quality of life, check out our previous blog posts on this topic.

To read more about managing diabetes and emotional health, including fear of hypos, check out the NDSS Factsheets.

Chatwin H, Broadley M, Jensen M, Hendrieckx C, Carlton J., Heller S, Amiel S, de Galan B, Hermanns N, Finke-Groene K, Speight J, & Pouwer F. “Never again will I be carefree”: a qualitative study of the impact of hypoglycaemia on quality of life among adults with type 1 diabetes. BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, 2021;9:e002322. doi:10.1136/ bmjdrc-2021-002322

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