How To Recognize Diabetic Coma Symptoms And When To Call A Doctor
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Diabetic coma is a serious complication of diabetes which causes loss of consciousness and can affect people suffering from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It is caused by hyperglycaemia (blood sugar levels rising too high) or hypoglycaemia (blood sugar levels dropping too low) both of which can be caused by a number of factors. At increased risk of developing this potentially life-threatening complication are people with poorly managed diabetes, diabetics who recently had trauma or surgery, and chronically ill individuals. The risk of diabetic coma also tends to increase with age. Although every diabetes patient can develop it, the older adults have a higher risk of diabetic coma.
Loss of consciousness is always preceded by early diabetic coma symptoms which, however, depend on the cause of this diabetes complication. If it is caused by blood sugar levels dropping too low, the person might experience some of the following symptoms:
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- excessive thirst
- increased urination
- stomach pain
- fruit-smelling breath
- rapid heartbeat
- shortness of breath
However, it is possible to lose consciousness without experiencing symptoms of hypoglycaemia. Some people can experience the so-called hypoglycaemia unawareness which, like its name suggests, does not cause any signs or symptoms of blood sugar levels dropping dangerously low.
Too high blood sugar levels, on the other hand, can cause some of the following early diabetic coma symptoms:
- increased hunger
- inability to speak
- irregular heart beat
If left untreated, both too high and too low blood sugar levels lead to diabetic coma which in turn can cause permanent brain damage and death.
Both hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia can usually be managed without medical assistance. Diabetics who start experiencing the early signs of either of both extremes should quickly measure their blood sugar levels and act accordingly. Low blood glucose can easily be elevated by eating something high in sugar content, while too high blood sugar levels usually drop quickly after taking medications for lowering blood sugar levels or insulin injection. The mentioned measures usually quickly bring blood glucose to safe levels, while the early symptoms of diabetic coma go away as the blood sugar levels normalize.
If the symptoms of either hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia worsen despite proper action, the person requires immediate medical help. If you or your loved one experience worsening of early diabetic coma symptoms, call medical emergency phone number or go to the nearest hospital but have someone accompany if you are the one with severe or worsening symptoms of hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia.
Diabetic coma is a medical emergency. If you are with a person who has diabetes and passed out, call medical emergency phone number and wait for the emergency team to arrive to tell them that the person has diabetes.