Diabetic Coma

What is a Diabetic Coma?

A diabetic coma is the result of extremely high blood sugar levels. This usually means  600 mg/dL or higher. It can cause you to become dehydrated and is common among those with type 2 diabetes when it is not controlled.

Elderly people, disabled people, and those that are chronically ill are more likely to suffer from a diabetic coma. It sometimes happens when people are unable to get enough water to drink or just don’t realize that they are thirsty. A diabetic coma can be fatal so it is a very serious issue that requires particular attention.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Coma?

People with diabetes need to make sure their blood sugar levels are under control and at the correct levels. If you are going to the bathroom a lot and you find that you are very thirsty and you have diabetes, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to make sure that your blood sugar level is under control.

Symptoms include

If your body is losing water and it continues for a period of time you may begin to experience frequent drowsiness and weakness. You may get headaches and fevers. Some experience and altered medical state and an inability to speak properly. Visual problems and hallucinations are also signs of a potential diabetic coma. Some even experience paralysis.

Diabetic Coma Causes

The initial cause of a diabetic coma can be traced to blood sugar extremes, meaning the individual can have a blood sugar level that is either too high or too low and that condition remains constant for an extended period of time. As a result, one of three things can occur, which, in turn, can lead to a diabetic coma.

Diabetic ketoacidosis – When the muscles of the body need energy and have no place else to get it, they may begin breaking down fat stores. This process, in turn, produces an acid toxic to the body, known as ketones. If ketones are allowed to continue to spread without treatment, a diabetic coma may soon occur.

Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome – When an individual’s blood sugar level is 600 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 33.3 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) or higher, the blood becomes very thick. As the high concentrations of sugar are passed via urine, the body also suffers a large loss of fluid. This process can cause extreme dehydration and, if left untreated, a diabetic coma may ensue.

Hypoglycemia – In cases where the brain isn’t getting enough glucose to function, the individual may pass out. Hunger, shakiness, and sweating are early warning signs that this process is underway. If actions aren’t taken to correct a state of hypoglycemia, the individual may ultimately fall into a diabetic coma.

How is a Diabetic Coma Treated?

Doctors treat diabetic coma very seriously as it can potentially be fatal so if they suspect that this is the case and see the symptoms they will likely send you to the hospital. At the hospital, you will get an IV to help you replace important electrolytes like potassium. You may also get an insulin shot or other medications to get your blood sugar under control. Replacing lost fluids is essential.

Diabetic Coma Prevention

Diabetic comas can be prevented through careful monitoring of blood sugar levels and lifestyle changes. In addition to keeping a close eye on blood sugar levels and adjusting sugar intake accordingly, it’s also recommended that diabetics remain faithful to their meal plans with few deviations.

Also, maintaining a proper medication schedule is essential to regulating one’s blood sugar levels. A urine test to check ketone levels is recommended in cases where blood sugar levels rise above 240mg/DL. Patients may also wish to consider a constant glucose monitor for an added measure of security.