Facebook Pixel

Are diabetic lows worse than diabetic highs?

By May 12, 2009 - 1:08pm
Rate This

My MIL has diabetes, and uses an insulin pump. She told me that there is new research that says the diabetic lows are worse than diabetic highs. Assuming she is referring to highs and lows that are not the extremes (ie, coma!), is this true? I believe she is interpreting this as being able to eat more candy!

Can you point me in the right direction of this new research she is referring to?

Add a Comment4 Comments

There was a study published in 2005 that looked at glucose fluctuations and the affect of oxidative stress on the endothelial level because of highs and lows.

They're equally as damaging, but the lows in someone who's had diabetes for an extended period of time can be more concerning because of the ability to recognize the symptoms. The longer you have diabetes, the less awareness you have to the symptoms of hypoglycemia.

It appears that the swings from high blood sugars (hyperglycemia) to low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) create a lot of free radicals that place stress on the endothelium of the cell which is there the resulting damage to organs occurs.

This is all a big fancy description for, "we don't really know" but both are damaging in the long run.
There's a huge study on-going called ACCORD and has several different components looking at multiple ways to treat diabetes and delay/offset complications.

As a pump user, there is another product available (to be used with insulin) called Symlin that helps to smooth out those highs/lows by replacing the hormone amylin that the body produces with insulin. It's the only product of its kind on the market and is only to be used by people who take insulin. It can have profound affects when successfully integrated into an insulin regimen.

I hope this information is helpful!

July 28, 2010 - 6:02am
EmpowHER Guest

It may be the assumtion that high blood sugar's are more long-term effects, and the pains of a low blood sugar (such as fainting) are short-term. You also feel a low blood sugar more than a high. Lastly, you can go up to 400 before passing out (a 280 adjust), but go down just 50 to 75 points (like blood sugar 70-45) and it hits you. But do not be happy with the highs because over time it will be the highs that will cause many complication.

February 20, 2010 - 1:56pm

I'm not sure---I will ask her and get back to you on her original source. Thanks for looking up this information!

May 14, 2009 - 2:02pm

Free2beme, is your MIL a creative soul?

I say that only because I haven't yet been able to find this research. Do you have any clues as to where she heard it -- on the television news, on NPR, in the newspaper -- or when?

Here's the Harvard Medical School page on current diabetes research, and while there are several interesting articles and studies there, I didn't find one that sounded like what your MIL meant.


And this is the American Diabetes Association's research page, which has links to recent diabetes research discoveries and a searchable database... it's a great resource, but again, I didn't find anything resembling a study on lows being better or worse than highs:


Are there any more details she had?

May 14, 2009 - 8:35am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.



Get Email Updates

Diabetes Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!