Diabetic Coma: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Diabetes can lead to several health complications if not properly managed. A diabetic coma is one of the complications caused by diabetes. This condition makes a person unconscious because of very high or low blood sugar levels.

This coma is common in people who do not know they have diabetes and also those who have had it for a long time. Initially, before ways of diagnosing diabetes were discovered, doctors knew someone had diabetes when they went unconscious.


Diabetic coma is characterized by extremely high or low blood sugar levels that ultimately make one unconscious. Among the causes of a diabetic coma are:

  • Hyperosmolar syndrome: This is a condition where the blood sugar levels are above 600mg/dl: this is extremely high. This condition makes one’s blood to be thick, making it look like syrup. The excess sugar drains a lot of fluid from your body, leaving it dehydrated, eventually leading to the coma.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis: this condition is caused by high blood sugar levels and a toxic acid known as Ketones. Ketones are formed from fats that have been broken down to produce energy for cells. This burning of fats happens when the cells are been starved. The condition can lead to diabetic coma if not treated early.
  • Hypoglycemia: this is low blood sugar level condition caused by too much insulin or little food. It makes the brain not to function well due to lack of glucose and eventually leads to a diabetic coma.

There are some predisposing factors that put a person at risk of getting into a diabetic coma. These are:

  • Surgery: when one undergoes surgery, the blood sugar levels tend to rise tremendously
  • Poorly managed diabetes
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drug use: drugs such as cocaine can cause dangerous high sugar levels



Signs and symptoms

When one gets into this diabetic coma, they are alive but cannot respond to sound, sight or any stimulation. Before one gets to this point, they experience some signs and symptoms outlined below.

  • High blood sugar levels
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pains
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Hunger

Treatment and prevention

When one falls into a diabetic coma, they should be rushed to the doctor since the coma can be fatal if not treated immediately.

Before getting to the hospital, one can give the patient an injection of glucagon if the blood level is below 70mg/dl. On the other hand, if the level is above 70mg/dl, you should not give any drink or inject the patient with insulin. You can call a doctor or rush the patient to the hospital.




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