This Morning: Type 2 diabetes can be 'devastating' says expert
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We all need sugar in our blood to provide cells with energy. The hormone insulin allows sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream to enter your cells, where it can used for energy. If you don’t have enough insulin, sugar stays in the bloodstream. Over time, high blood sugar levels damage your blood vessels and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes with its associated complications. The Somogyi effect occurs when insulin lowers blood sugars too much and can trigger a release of hormones that send the blood sugar levels into a rebound high.
The Somogyi effect occurs in people with diabetes who use insulin therapy to manage their condition.
It can occur when a person either takes too much insulin at night or does not eat enough before bed.
For a period of time in the early morning hours, usually between 3am and 8am the body starts churning out stored glucose to prepare for the upcoming day.
At the same time, the body releases hormones that reduce your sensitivity to insulin.
The symptoms of the Somogyi effect include low blood glucose levels at 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. as well as the following:
- Night sweats
- Rapid heart rate
- Waking up with a headache
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite
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Somogyi effect vs the dawn phenomena
The dawn phenomenon experience is similar to the Somogyi effect, but the causes are different.
Everyone experiences the dawn phenomenon to some extent and is the body’s natural reaction to hormones (cortisol, growth hormone, and catecholamine) that are released as morning approaches.
These hormones trigger the release of glucose from your liver.
In most people, the release of glucose is tempered by the release of insulin.
But when you have diabetes, you don’t produce enough insulin to lessen the release of glucose, and that causes your blood sugar levels rise causing the Somogyi effect.
Dr Sarah Brewer said: “The main reason why everyone experiences a slightly a higher blood sugar level in the morning is known as the dawn phenomenon.”
She explained: “For people without diabetes, the rise in glucose is minimal, but for those with diabetes, blood glucose levels stay higher than normal.
“One study found that around 55 percent of people with diabetes experienced the dawn affect, but others have not found the same prevalence.
“The dawn phenomenon is due to our natural biorhythms in which production of insulin hormone (which lowers glucose) is suppressed during sleep, and levels of other hormones that raise glucose (growth hormone, glucagon and cortisol) increase.
“There is also a theory (known as the Somogyi effect) which suggests that, in people with diabetes who are on insulin, the rise in blood sugar in the morning could be a rebound effect of using too much or, conversely, too little insulin the evening before, but this is controversial.”
Your doctor will likely ask you to check your blood sugar levels between 2a.m. and 3a.m. for several nights in a row, said Cleveland Clinic.
The site added: “If your blood sugar is consistently low during this time, the Somogyi effect is suspected.
“If the blood sugar is normal during this time period, the dawn phenomenon is more likely to be the cause.
“Some additional clues that the Somogyi effect may be the cause include nightmares, restless sleep and overnight sweating as these are all signs of low blood sugar levels.”
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