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What To Do If Someone Is In A Diabetic Coma

What To Do If Someone Goes Into Diabetic Shock

What It’s Like: Going into a diabetic coma (2013-10-18)

Extreme hypoglycemia, with sugar levels under 70 mg/dl, is referred to as diabetic shock. It is a medical emergency. Persons with diabetes should be aware of the symptoms and should educate those around them on what to do in the event they are unable to act on their own behalf.

How Does It Happen?

Hypoglycemia is defined as having too little glucose in the blood. Glucose is critical to the functioning of our cells, supplying energy for their processes. Hypoglycemia is the result of an imbalance between insulin levels and glucose levels. Whether as the result of medication, diet, exercise, stress or illness, the body is not reacting as expected.

Too little glucose can cause symptoms ranging from sweating, dizziness, shakiness, rapid heartbeat and hunger in mild cases to aggression, mental confusion, unconsciousness, seizures and coma in extreme cases.

What to Do

When early symptoms of hypoglycemia appear, it is wise for the diabetic to take a blood sugar reading. Prompt attention to this can prevent an emergency situation. Remedies could include consuming glucose tablets or glucose gel, which are over-the-counter products available in drug stores. Other options include an 8-ounce glass of milk, 4 ounces of fruit juice or non-diet soda, a handful of raisins, or a tablespoon of sugar or honey.

After ingesting the remedy, wait 15 minutes and check sugar levels again. If still low, repeat the treatment.

How Long Can A Person Be In A Diabetic Coma

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If the symptoms occurred for a while before treatment or if you were in a diabetic coma for several hours or longer, you could experience some brain damage. An untreated diabetic coma may also result in death. People who get emergency treatment for a diabetic coma usually recover fully.

Beside above, how serious is a diabetic coma? A diabetic coma is a life-threatening diabetes complication that causes unconsciousness. If you have diabetes, dangerously high blood sugar or dangerously low blood sugar can lead to a diabetic coma. Left untreated, a diabetic coma can be fatal.

Keeping this in consideration, at what sugar level is diabetic coma?

A diabetic coma could happen when your blood sugar gets too high — 600 milligrams per deciliter or more — causing you to become very dehydrated.

How do you deal with a diabetic coma?


  • Intravenous fluids to restore water to your tissues.
  • Potassium, sodium or phosphate supplements to help your cells function correctly.
  • Insulin to help your tissues absorb the glucose in your blood.
  • Treatment for any underlying infections.
  • How Can A Diabetic Coma Be Managed

    The two causes of diabetic coma, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state and diabetic ketoacidosis , differ in whether or not there is ketoacidosis. Although both have severe hyperglycemia, that of HHS is more severe.

    The results of metabolic changes in both lead to abnormalities in electrolyte concentrations, which can be life-threatening. Identifying the cause of the diabetic coma and determining the severity of the electrolyte abnormalities can then guide treatment.

    The approach to treating either cause is similar and includes the following:

    • Infusion of fluids to dilute the over-concentration in the blood from the hyperglycemia, replenish the volume of fluids lost, and improve blood pressure and perfusion of organs to stabilize the cardiovascular status.
    • Correct the potassium deficiency, which will recur after giving insulin
    • Insulin administration in low IV doses so that any hypokalemia can be anticipated and corrected
    • Monitor serum glucose, sodium, potassium, and vital signs frequently
    • Determine cardiac status via EKG

    When the cause is ketoacidosis, treatment includes:

    • IV sodium bicarbonate to counteract a pH <6.9.; Frequent monitoring of the arterial blood gases is necessary for status of the pH and bicarbonate levels;

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    Risk Factors For Diabetic Coma

    A diabetic coma can happen in anyone who is diabetic.; Type 1 diabetics have a greater risk of having a diabetic coma because they often use insulin and have wider fluctuations in their blood glucose numbers when compared to type 2 diabetics. Any diabetic with high levels of glucose or low levels of glucose are at risk for developing a diabetic coma.; Type 2 diabetics are at a greater risk of having a diabetic coma from diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome rather than diabetic ketoacidosis or hypoglycemia.

    Problems that contribute to developing a diabetic coma include the following:

    Remember: You Are Not Alone

    How Long Does Diabetic Coma Last and How is it Treated?

    Call our toll-free number and talk to an ex-diabetic engineer who survived a diabetic coma.

    For more information about how to help someone in a diabetic coma and how to avoid a diabetic coma in the first place, refer to the follow web links:

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    Diabetic Seizure What To Do

    If you notice the signs that a person is beginning to have a diabetic seizure, it is wise to take some specific steps immediately. If there is anyone else present who can do so, tell him to quickly call for an ambulance. While you are waiting for medical help to arrive, the two points which you should focus on are to prevent the person from injuring himself, and, if possible, to get glucose into his system. The latter can best be accomplished if the person still has his functioning abilities it is essential to never attempt to get a person who is unconscious or approaching unconsciousness to drink anything or ingest glucose tablets! Move him away from objects which he can be hurt on if he falls, such as tables; if possible, provide a clear ground surface or a blanket.

    Be Patient A Person Emerging From A Coma Is Disoriented

    As soon as the ICU staff allows: Every day write the date in large letters on a large piece of paper. Tape this where the patient can see it. This helps to orient the patient.

    Remember the recovery of consciousness is a gradual process and is not just a matter of waking up as people often imagine.

    Read Also: What Is The Function Of Insulin

    Emergencies At School College Or Work

    To minimise the chance of a serious emergency at work, school or university, its best to ensure the people around you are aware you have diabetes, what dangers could potential happen and how to deal with any such situation should it develop.

    Particularly at work, some people may be worried about disclosing their diabetes to their employer In terms of health, its best to do so.

    What Are The Warning Signs Of A Diabetic Shock

    My Diabetic Coma/How I was diagnosed.

    Following are some of the signs and symptoms of a situation when the blood glucose level of a diabetes patient becomes too low:

    • Extreme hunger in the patient
    • The person feels dizzy and there is too much of anxiety
    • Pale skin
    • There can be seizures as well as a coma
    • Crying out in the sleep
    • Nightmares and the behavior becomes too aggressive
    • Sweaty pajamas as well as bedding

    When you are experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms, be sure that you do get your blood glucose levels checked and take all the necessary precautions.

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    Can A Diabetic Coma Be Prevented

    You can help yourself prevent a diabetic coma by taking steps to keep your blood sugar in the target ranges. Meeting with a Certified Diabetes Educator is an important part of understanding how to care for your diabetes. The CDE will help you be aware of symptoms for high and low blood sugar levels and how best to manage your condition.

    It’s also important for your family, friends and coworkers to understand how to help you if you need help. Let them know about the symptoms of high and low blood sugar.

    In terms of food and drink, here are some tips for preventing diabetic coma:

    • Learn about foods that affect your blood sugar and the best meal plan for you.
    • Dont skip meals.
    • Keep treatment for a low blood sugar with you at all times .
    • Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
    • Ask your healthcare provider to prescribe a glucagon kit and teach a support person how to use it in case you ever have severe low blood sugar.

    These are other recommendations to help you manage your blood glucose levels:

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/02/2020.


    Hhs Alternately Is A Non

    Determination of electrolytes levels is important to identify life-threatening conditions that the overconcentration in the blood produces in HHS and DKA. Then when there is additional excretion by the kidneys to compensate, the lost water makes the concentration of some solutes even higher. Therefore, testing of the following are indicated:

    • Serum and urine ketones
    • Serum sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, and other electrolytes
    • ECG/EKG: Acidosis/over concentrated states resulting in electrolyte;;abnormalities severely impact cardiovascular status, necessitating an electrocardiogram to determine whether support for cardiac issues is warranted
    • Infection can convert a well-controlled diabetic into an hyperglycemic state, so diagnostic tests for infection, such as bacterial cultures, blood counts, and chest X-rays, are indicated

    Telling the difference between HHS and DKA as the cause of coma and diagnosing the types of electrolyte problems that occur allow for a rational approach to rapid treatment, which is necessary to avoid death.

    Also Check: What Happens If You Have Diabetes

    When To Seek Emergency Care

    Its important to measure your blood sugar if you experience any unusual symptoms so that you do not progress to a coma. Diabetic comas are considered emergencies that require prompt medical attention and are treated in a hospital setting. Like symptoms, diabetic coma treatments can vary depending on the cause.

    Its also important to help instruct your loved ones on how to respond if you progress to a diabetic coma. Ideally they should be educated on the signs and symptoms of the conditions listed above so that you do not progress this far. It can be a frightening discussion, but its one you need to have. Your family and close friends need to learn how to help in case of an emergency. You wont be able to help yourself once you fall into a coma. Instruct your loved ones to call 911 if you lose consciousness. The same should be done if you experience warning symptoms of diabetic coma. Show others how to administer glucagon in the case of diabetic coma from hypoglycemia. Be sure to always wear a medical alert bracelet so that others know of your condition and can contact emergency services if youre away from home.

    Once a person receives treatment, they can regain consciousness after their blood sugar level is normalized.

    What To Do If Someone Goes Into A Diabetic Shock

    Diabetic Coma Treatment First Aid

    When a person gets into a diabetic shock, there is a total panic and chaos that is caused. However, in such a situation, it is extremely important that you be aware of the steps that you need to take in order to treat the same. Following are some of the things that you need to do when you are witnessing a situation where a person has slipped into a diabetic coma.

    As we see, diabetic shock can be a life-threatening condition and if there is a diabetic patient in your home, you should know how to deal with the situation without any panic.

    Read Also: How To Control High Blood Sugar

    Can A Diabetic Coma Be Diagnosed

    Diabetic coma results from hyperosmolar conditions. Neurological changes begin above levels of 320-330 mg/dL.

    Diabetic coma can occur due to either a hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state or being in diabetic ketoacidosis . Both involve a hyperosmolar state, but in HHS, glucose levels can exceed 1,000. In DKA, they are usually lower.

    Diabetic Ketoacidosis And Coma

    Diabetic ketoacidosis is a dangerous state of having very high blood glucose levels in combination with high ketone levels.

    Ketoacidosis is able to occur if the body runs out of insulin and is therefore a factor for people with type 1 diabetes to be aware of. Insulin can prevent ketone levels rising and this is the key reason why people with diabetes are advised never to miss their long term insulin injections.

    Coma is one of the most dangerous complications which can result from diabetes. Coma is a serious state of unconsciousness in which someone is unresponsive and cannot be woken up.

    In people with diabetes, the most common causes of coma are very high or very low blood glucose. Very low blood glucose levels which lead to coma can happen if people inject too much insulin for the meals and activities they are undertaking.

    In type 1 diabetes, a dangerous short term complication known as ketoacidosis can occur which can lead to coma if it is not treated quickly. Charity Diabetes UK advises people with type 1 diabetes to test for ketones if their blood glucose levels rise above 15 mmol/l.

    People with type 2 diabetes are less likely to experience ketoacidosis but can develop a dangerous condition known as Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State which can lead to coma.

    Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic State may occur if blood glucose levels are very high, typically over 40 mmol/l.

    The symptoms of very low blood glucose include:

    • Difficulty concentrating

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    Checking For Diabetic Ketoacidosis

    How do you know if your child has diabetic ketoacidosis? The signs and symptoms can mimic or be triggered by other illnesses, like the flu. So, it’s very important to check your child’s blood sugar levels and urine ketones during illness especially if there are;high blood sugar readings or if your child has symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.

    Because high levels of ketones in the blood cause ketones to appear in the urine, ketones can be checked at home by testing a sample of your child’s urine. If the urine test for ketones is negative, it generally means that symptoms are not due to diabetic ketoacidosis. If the urine test is positive, contact your child’s diabetes health care team.;

    Tests done by a lab or hospital can confirm whether a child has;diabetic ketoacidosis, if necessary. Some newer blood glucose meters also offer the option of testing blood for ketones. Ask the diabetes health care team if such a meter is a good idea;for your child.


    What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Coma

    My Eye Doctor Helped Me Avoid a Diabetic Coma

    The following symptoms are your bodys warning signs that your blood sugar is too high or too low.

    Whenever you have these symptoms, check your blood sugar. If it is too high or too low, treat it according to your healthcare providers instructions to prevent a diabetic coma. If you have had diabetes for a long time, you may fall into a coma without showing any of the symptoms.

    Some symptoms of hyperglycemia are:

    • Tiredness.
    • Taking too much insulin.

    Also Check: What Happens When Your Blood Sugar Is Too High

    How Long Can You Be In A Coma Before You Die

    Coma indicates a deep unconsciousness of a person. This means, an individual in coma state remains alive, but fails to wake up. Some individuals in coma fail to give response in an appropriate way about what exactly is taking place or who is coming in front of them.

    Special parts present in a human brain are responsible for controlling peoples ability to give responses or to wake up. Coma problem takes place because of-

    • Trauma .
    • Head injuries.
    • Overdose of alcohol or any toxic drug.

    What Are The Causes Of Diabetic Coma

    Diabetic coma is mainly caused by an extremely high or low blood sugar level. One of these conditions is diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome. It happens in people with Type 2 diabetes. If you develop this condition:

    • Your blood sugar could be as high as 600 mg/dL.
    • Your urine wont contain ketones usually.
    • Your blood will be much thicker than normal.

    Another condition is diabetic ketoacidosis, which is more common in people with Type 1 diabetes. Things to know about this condition include:

    • It could happen with a blood sugar as low as 250 mg/dL or even lower in some cases.
    • Your body uses fatty acids instead of glucose for fuel.
    • Ketones develop in your urine and bloodstream.

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    Causes Of High Blood Sugar Levels

    A major goal in controlling diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels as close to the desired range as possible. It’s a three-way balancing act of:

  • diabetes medicines
  • food
  • activity level
  • All of these need to be balanced to keep blood sugar levels under control. If any one is off, blood sugar levels can be, too.

    In general, problems controlling blood sugar levels are due to one or more of the following:

    • not getting enough insulin or other diabetes medicine
    • not following the meal plan
    • not getting enough exercise
    • use of certain medicines that can raise blood sugar, like steroids used to treat inflammation

    You Feel Shakyor Tired

    Diabetic Coma

    Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia each have different warning signs, but can lead to the same resultdiabetic coma. Warning signs that you are in danger because the blood sugar is dropping or is too low include feeling shaky, says Gillian Goddard, MD, board certified in internal medicine and endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, from Park Avenue Endocrinology & Nutrition. Learn about silent diabetes symptoms you might miss. On the other hand, you could notice high blood sugar leaving you fatigued, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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    Faqs: Frequently Asked Questions

    Can DKA recur?

    Yes, DKA will happen whenever insulin levels are too low and not enough glucose is being produced to provide energy to your muscles and other tissues. If you miss a dose, underdose, or suffer from trauma or illness that depletes your insulin, DKA can recur.

    Can DKA cause a heart attack or stroke?

    Complications of DKA can include a heart attack or stroke because of the buildup of ketones in your body, so take it seriously and get emergency treatment as soon as you recognize the signs.

    What causes a coma in DKA?

    When blood-sugar levels become too low, triggering hypoglycemia, severe dehydration can then cause a diabetic coma.

    How long does it take to recover from diabetic ketoacidosis?

    Finally, some good news! Once youre safely admitted to the hospital for DKA, recovery is usually complete in one to three days.


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