Diabetes is a dangerous disease, putting people at risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, amputation…plenty of serious stuff. Fortunately, pills and injections can reduce blood sugar and thereby reduce the risk of those awful sequels. Unfortunately, doctors sometimes treat blood sugar too aggressively, lowering it beyond the point where it helps avert heart attacks and strokes for patients, in fact to the point where patients could end up suffering life-ending bouts of hypoglycemia–of dangerously low blood sugars.
How do you know if your doctor is treating your blood sugar too aggressively? Here are some possible warning signs.
IMPORTANTLY: These are possible signs of overtreatment for people with type 2 diabetes, the kind that usually starts in adults. But since every patient is different, it is important to recognize that if you think you might be experiencing overtreatment, don’t take my word for it; talk about it with your doctor. That said, here are some possible signs of overtreatment that could suggest you need to talk to your physician.
1. A1C consistently less than 7.
The A1C, as most of you with diabetes know, is a blood test that estimates the average blood sugar reading over the past two or three months. People without diabetes typically have A1C levels of less than 5.7, with pre-diabetic levels ranging from 5.7 to 6.4. That means diabetes starts typically at an A1C level of 6.5. You would think, then, that the goal of diabetes treatments would be to bring people’s sugars down to where they have normal A1Cs. But you would be wrong.
The goal of diabetes treatment is to lower sugar enough to reduce complications of the illness without going so low as to create other problems, like dangerous episodes of hypoglycemia. For that reason, experts generally agree on a goal of getting A1Cs to less than 7.5, while avoiding A1Cs of less than 7. So if your A1C is often less than 7, you should ask your doctor whether it makes sense to back off on your diabetes treatments.
(To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.)