Danger: Hypoglycemia in People with Diabetes due to Breathing Exercises
Module 8A. Restrictions, side effects, limits, and temporary contraindications
(Learning the Buteyko method by modules)
Note. Only some (not all) breathing exercises and lifestyle changes (treatment with breathing retraining) lead to permanent improvements in automatic breathing patterns and increased body-oxygen levels.
Intensive breathing sessions and quick growth in body oxygenation sharply increase the organism’s sensitivity to circulating blood insulin and increase production of its own insulin due to better perfusion and oxygenation of the pancreas in people with diabetes. This can happen during and after a single breathing session or as an accumulative effect due to a fast growth in the body oxygen levels within hours or days after starting first breathing lessons. Hence, taking the same insulin dose can easily lead to hypoglycemic shock or severe hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels), which is potentially fatal.
How to control blood sugar (glucose) levels and insulin intake
In order to prevent these complications, the common practice of Russian Buteyko medical doctors include the following suggestions for any person with diabetes taking medication to reduce blood sugar:
1) Eat a small snack immediately after (or just before) a breathing session; for the pre-session go for soft foods, like soy milk and/or honey, or very well chewed bread, piece of cheese, nut butter, and so forth
2) Adjust daily insulin requirements (or other medication) to their current state by having good blood glucose control (periodic measurements), consulting their GP or family physician or endocrinologist about decreased blood sugar values, and asking them about reduced insulin intake.
Most diabetics, when they have the cooperation of their doctors, can safely decrease their insulin intake about 2 times after they start their program of breathing retraining described here. It is also a common practice to monitor blood glucose levels and adjust medication accordingly. Such practice is sensible and is very important during breathing retraining.
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