A diabetic coma is a deadly diabetes issue that causes unconsciousness. If you have diabetes, dangerously high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or dangerously low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) can cause a diabetic coma.
If you lapse into a diabetic coma, you’re alive — however you can’t awaken or respond actively to sights, sounds or other types of stimulation. Left without treatment, a diabetic coma can be fatal.
The possibility of a diabetic coma is scary, however luckily you can take actions to help avoid it. Start by following your diabetes treatment strategy.
Before developing a diabetic coma, you’ll typically experience symptoms and signs of high blood sugar level or low blood sugar.
High blood sugar level (hyperglycemia)
If your blood glucose level is too high, you might experience:
- Increased thirst
- Regular urination
- Queasiness and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain
- Fruity breath odor
- A very dry mouth
- A fast heartbeat
Low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia)
Symptoms and signs of a low blood glucose level might include:
- Restlessness or anxiety
- Stress and anxiety
- Weak point
- Lightheadedness or light-headedness
- Difficulty speaking
Some individuals, particularly those who’ve had diabetes for a very long time, develop a condition known as hypoglycemia unawareness and will not have the warning signs that signal a drop in blood sugar level.
If you experience any symptoms of high or low blood sugar level, test your blood sugar level and follow your diabetes treatment strategy based upon the test results. If you do not begin to feel much better quickly, or you begin to feel even worse, require emergency aid.
When to see a doctor
A diabetic coma is a medical emergency. If you feel extreme high or low blood glucose signs or symptoms and think you might pass out, call 911 or your regional emergency situation number. If you’re with somebody with diabetes who has actually passed out, call for emergency situation assistance, and make sure to let the emergency workers know that the unconscious person has diabetes.
Extended blood sugar level extremes — blood sugar that’s either too high or too low for too long — might cause various conditions, all of which can result in a diabetic coma.
- Diabetic ketoacidosis. If your muscle cells become starved for energy, your body may react by breaking down fat stores. This procedure forms harmful acids called ketones. Left neglected, diabetic ketoacidosis can result in a diabetic coma.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is most common in people who have type 1 diabetes, but it can likewise affect individuals who have type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes.
- Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome. If your blood glucose level tops 600 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 33.3 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), the condition is known as diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome.
When your blood glucose gets this high, your blood ends up being thick and syrupy. The excess sugar passes from your blood into your urine, which activates a filtering procedure that draws incredible quantities of fluid from your body.
Left untreated, diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome can cause life-threatening dehydration and a diabetic coma. Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome is most typical in middle-aged and older adults who have type 2 diabetes.
- Hypoglycemia. Your brain needs glucose to work. In severe cases, low blood glucose might cause you to pass out. Hypoglycemia can be triggered by excessive insulin or not adequate food. Exercising too vigorously or consuming excessive alcohol can have the very same result.
Signs and symptoms are affected by the intensity of the hypoglycemia. With longstanding diabetes, however, you might lose the early warning signs — such as appetite, shakiness and sweating — and may only establish symptoms when your blood sugar is dangerously low. This is called hypoglycemia unawareness.
Left without treatment, a diabetic coma can lead to:
- Long-term brain damage
Tests and medical diagnosis
If you experience a diabetic coma, prompt medical diagnosis is necessary. The emergency situation medical team will do a physical examination and may ask those who are with you about your case history. If you have diabetes, you may wish to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace.
You may require numerous laboratory tests to determine:
- Your blood glucose level
- Your ketone level
- The quantity of nitrogen or creatinine in your blood
- The quantity of potassium, phosphate and salt in your blood
Treatments and drugs
The kind of emergency treatment for a diabetic coma depends upon whether your blood sugar level is too high or too low.
High blood sugar
If your blood sugar level is too high, you might require:
- Intravenous fluids to bring back water to your tissues
- Potassium, salt or phosphate supplements to assist your cells function correctly
- Insulin to assist your tissues soak up the glucose in your blood
- Treatment for any underlying infections
Low blood glucose
If your blood sugar level is too low, you might be provided a glucagon injection, which will cause your blood sugar level to rapidly rise. Intravenous dextrose might likewise be offered to raise blood glucose levels.
Awareness typically returns when blood sugar level reaches a normal level.
Excellent everyday control of your diabetes can assist you avoid a diabetic coma. Keep these pointers in mind:
- Follow your meal strategy. Consistent treats and meals can help you manage your blood sugar level.
- Keep an eye on your blood sugar level. Frequent blood sugar level tests can inform you whether you’re keeping your blood sugar level in your target variety — and alert you to hazardous highs or lows. Inspect more regularly if you’ve worked out due to the fact that workout can cause blood sugar levels to drop, especially if you do not work out routinely.
- Take your medication as directed. If you have regular episodes of high or low blood sugar, let your doctor know. She or he might need to change the dose or the timing of your medication.
- Have a sick-day plan. Illness can raise blood sugar suddenly. Before you get sick, talk with your doctor about how to best handle this increase in your blood sugar.
- Look for ketones when your blood sugar level is high. Examine your urine for ketones when your blood sugar level is more than 240 mg/dL (13.3 mmol/L), particularly if you are sick. If you have a large amount of ketones, call your doctor for recommendations. Call your doctor instantly if you have any level of ketones and are vomiting.
- Have glucagon and fast-acting sources of sugar available. If you take insulin for your diabetes, make sure you have a current glucagon package and fast-acting sources of sugar, such as glucose tablets or orange juice, easily available to treat low blood glucose levels.
- Think about a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), especially if you have difficulty maintaining stable blood sugar levels or you do not feel symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia unawareness).
CGMs are devices that use a little sensing unit inserted underneath the skin to track patterns in your blood sugar levels and send the details to a wireless device.
These devices can inform you when your blood sugar is dangerously low or if it is dropping too quickly. Nevertheless, you still have to test your blood sugar levels utilizing a blood sugar meter even if you’re utilizing a CGM. CGMs are more costly than standard glucose monitoring methods, but they may help you manage your glucose much better.
- Don’t drink alcohol.
- Inform your liked ones, friends and colleagues. Teach loved ones and other close contacts how to recognize early symptoms and signs of blood sugar level extremes — and how to administer a glucagon injection. If required, somebody must summon emergency situation help should you pass out.
- Use a medical ID bracelet or pendant. If you’re unconscious, the ID can provide valuable info to your buddies, colleagues and others — including emergency situation personnel.