A diabetic coma results from either very high or very low blood glucose levels. This is a life-threatening complication which causes the patient to fall into a state of unconsciousness. The coma is reversible if treated immediately, but if left untreated they may receive permanent brain damage or potentially die. There are three main types of diabetic comas: severe hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis and diabetic hyperosmolar. Each type of coma can be brought on by excessive food intake, failure to take the proper doses of medication, trauma, illegal drug use, alcohol consumption or infection.
Hypoglycemia occurs when the body has insufficient glucose. If the brain does not have enough glucose, it cannot function properly which later causes you to pass out. Diabetic Ketoacidosis is common amongst people with type 1 diabetes and is triggered by the build-up of ketones. Ketones build up when sugar levels are too low and the body begins to burn fat for energy. Diabetic hyperosmolar occurs when your blood sugar is dangerously high, causing your blood to get thick and syrupy. Your body will try to get rid of the excess sugar by passing it in urine. This will cause frequent urination that can lead to dehydration.
There are several symptoms that will alert you if your sugar levels are dangerously high or low:
- Sudden and extreme hunger
- Frequent urination
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Shaking or nervousness
- Irregular heartbeat
If you are experiencing these symptoms check your blood glucose levels right away and seek immediate medical attention. The best way to avoid diabetic comas is through prevention and managing your diabetes. You can manage your diabetes by checking your blood sugar regularly, exercising, sticking to your recommended diet, staying hydrated and taking the proper doses of medication. For more information on diabetes management and early prevention Jamaica Hospital offers a free diabetes prevention program, to sign up please call 718-206-7088.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.