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Real help: Dogs can warn of hypoglycemia in diabetes


Trained dogs smell a hypo and warn their owner
Diabetes is a problem that should not be underestimated for most people. Researchers have now found that dogs can be trained to recognize the warning signs of low blood sugar in patients. To do this, they sniff out a special substance that can be found in our breath.

People with diabetes need a lot of time and effort to control their blood sugar levels. Scientists from the recognized University of Cambridge have now found that dogs can be used to warn patients with diabetes that their blood sugar levels are too low. The dogs can smell a special chemical compound in our breath and recognize whether our blood sugar is too low. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Diabetes Care".

Trained dogs smell a hypo and give a signal to their owner
When people have type 1 diabetes, they need insulin injections to manage their blood sugar levels. To determine when they need such an injection, sufferers need to measure their blood sugar. But dogs can also be specially trained for this task. Such a trained dog is then able to smell that there is a risk of hypoglycaemia, the study authors explain. Then this diabetes tracker can warn of hypoglycaemia, for example by signaling by barking that its owner needs an insulin injection. Some dogs also put their paws on the patient to inform them that their blood sugar is too low. Too low blood sugar, for example, can cause problems such as tremors, confusion and tiredness and, in the worst case, reach life-threatening proportions, the doctors add.

Without a sugar surge, seizures and loss of consciousness are at risk
If patients with hypoglycaemia don't get a sugar boost in time, the experts may lose consciousness. In some people with diabetes, these effects occur without warning. A chemical compound that occurs naturally in our breath could help to recognize when the sugar level is too low in the future.

Doctors use mass spectrometry for the examination
The researchers have already tested their hypothesis in a preliminary study. Scientists gradually lowered the blood sugar level of eight women under controlled conditions. All subjects were around forty years old and suffered from type 1 diabetes. The doctors then used mass spectrometry to identify distinctive chemical signatures.

In the case of hypoglycaemia, the isoprene value increases significantly
The researchers found that the level of so-called isoprene increased significantly in hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). In some cases, its presence even doubled. Dogs appear to be sensitive to the presence of isoprene and it may also be possible in the future to develop new detectors that identify increased levels of isoprene in high-risk patients, the scientists explain.

Doctors know little about the origin and origin of isoprene
Isoprene is one of the most common naturally occurring chemical compounds that we can find in the air we breathe, but we know surprisingly little about its origin, says Dr. Mark Evans from Cambridge University. It is believed to be a by-product of cholesterol production. However, it is unclear why the value of the chemical increases when patients have very low blood sugar levels, explains Dr. Evans continues.

Trained dogs can make life much easier for people with diabetes
Humans cannot detect the presence of isoprene in the air we breathe, but dogs find it easy to identify the chemical because of their incredible sense of smell, the researchers say. Dogs can be trained to warn their owner in good time if the owner's blood sugar level is dangerously low, adds Dr. Evans added. This could help many people affected to deal with the disease more safely and avoid a dangerous health risk. (as)

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Video: Medtronic - Hypoglycemia: how can you tell when your child is hypo (January 2022).