Changes in blood sugar levels may cause patients with diabetes to become mentally and physically sluggish during their daily routines. A majority of individuals with the disease are aware of the problems when their blood sugar levels drop too far. Patients, however, also often report not feeling well when their blood glucose levels are high, but lacking "a clear theory as to why that happens, patients' complaints were typically being ignored," said lead investigator Daniel J. Cox, PhD.
Therefore, Dr. Cox and his research team conducted a study of 196 participants with type 1 diabetes and 34 with type 2 diabetes. The participants were asked to complete tests assessing verbal and mathematical skills using hand-held computers. The tasks were done immediately before routine self-monitoring of blood glucose levels, 3 to 4 times daily. The results of the study indicated that 50% of the participants had more mistakes and had slower responses when sugar levels went beyond a certain point. (The findings were reported in Diabetes Care, January 2005.)