NICHOLS HILLS, Okla. - It's a well-known disease that affects almost half a million Oklahomans.
However, diabetes, if not treated correctly, can have serious consequences. The summer months can add stress to the body, which can shock a person with low blood sugar.
When firefighters go out on a call, they try to always be prepared with lifesaving drugs.
On Tuesday, one of those medications helped save Kris Peterson from a diabetic episode.
"I was in my front yard, picking weeds, and my blood sugar apparently got too low,” Kris Peterson said.
Drivers in Nichols Hills saw Peterson rolling on the ground and called 911.
"I'm lucky somebody saw me out there and called for help,” Peterson said.
He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 43 years ago. He says he's had several episodes, but this was his second in a week.
"I can't tell when my blood sugar is getting too low and sometimes before I can do anything about it, it's too late,” Peterson said.
Firefighters say they see a lot of people with the same situation.
"Over 90 percent of our calls are service calls for EMS, medical situations and diabetic issues is a large part of that,” Lt. Nathan Miller, with the Oklahoma City Fire Department, said.
That's why paramedics and firefighters always carry D50 for severely hypoglycemic patients. It’s a sugar diluted with water. It can be taken orally or administered through an IV for diabetic patients who aren't breathing on their own.
"In about 60 seconds to two minutes after administration, the patient will start coming around and talking to us,” Lt. Miller said.
Lt. Miller says ultra-low blood sugar can have serious consequences.
"It can actually cause cell damage in the brain with that low of the blood sugar because your brain uses glucose for energy,” he said.
And these hot temperatures can only make things worse.
"Out in the heat, not drinking enough fluids or getting enough food intake, can affect that and cause that blood sugar to crash a little bit faster,” Lt. Miller said.
Peterson says he's since adjusted the amount of insulin he takes to hopefully avoid another episode.