Drivers with diabetes should take extra care

By Shayna Brouker • Published: April 4th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Diabetes is limiting in many ways. Not only do people with diabetes have to keep their blood sugar levels in check, new research shows they should heed caution when they drive, too. A study from the American Diabetes Association found that diabetics are 12 to 19 percent more likely to have an accident than other drivers due to blood sugar crashes.

Low blood sugar can cause disorientation, delayed reaction and even unconsciousness. Coupled with impaired vision and numbness in the feet, the symptoms of low blood sugar can be a recipe for disaster. Even less severe symptoms like blurry vision, sweating or fatigue can be cause for concern. And according to a study from the Royal Infirmary of Scotland, although 87 percent of diabetics stashed a source of carbohydrates in their car, 60 percent didn’t check their blood sugar levels before driving.

If you have diabetes and are about to hit the road, doctors advise that you eat something sugary, wait 15 minutes and check your blood sugar again. In addition to keeping carbs in the car, following a healthy diet is key to controlling blood sugar levels. Avoiding spikes in blood sugar and maintaining steady levels throughout the day helps keep diabetes in control. Foods and beverages consisting of sugar, carbs and starches are typically the types to avoid — alcohol included. Fit in 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily and eat at regular times throughout the day.

And despite common belief, you don’t have to deny yourself dessert — sugar in moderation is OK. Just be sure to substitute your indulgence for another carb or starch in your meal. For example, skip bread at dinner. It’s the total number of carbs that counts at the end of the day.

Keeping blood sugar in control can keep you and others safe and healthy.