Diabetic Coma: Road to Recovery

What is a Diabetic Coma?
A diabetic coma is a medical emergency diabetics experience when they have dangerously high or low blood sugar (glucose) levels. The cells in your body need glucose to function and if your levels are off, you could lose consciousness and go into a diabetic coma.

What Are the Causes of a Diabetic Coma?
High blood sugar, also known as hyperglycemia, can cause your body to become severely dehydrated to the point where you lose consciousness. Hyperglycemia can happen when you eat too much, are under stress, if you take steroids, or if you don’t exercise enough.

Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can also cause you to lose consciousness because your brain isn’t receiving enough glucose to function. It can be the result of poor diabetes management certain medications, or skipping meals.

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is another trigger for diabetic comas. When you suffer from DKA, your body does not have enough insulin to function so it starts to break down fat to get energy. This releases ketones into the bloodstream which can lead to a coma or even death. You are at risk of DKA if you have diabetes and binge drink, use illicit drugs, or take medications like steroids. Having infections or viruses also increases your risk.

Symptoms of a Diabetic Coma
It is important to react quickly when you have symptoms of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia to stop yourself from slipping into a diabetic coma.

Hypogylcemia Symptoms
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive sweating
  • Confusion
  • Hunger
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
Hyperglycemia Symptoms
  • Stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Increased urination
  • Trouble walking
  • Fruity smelling breath
  • Increased hunger and thirst

Risk Factors for Diabetic Comas
One of the best ways to avoid a diabetic coma is to manage your diabetes correctly. Stick to your medication regime, eat the right foods, and exercise often. If you start to notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should take steps to bring your blood sugar to normal levels. If you react quickly enough, you can usually stop hypergylcemia and hypogylcemia from progressing to a diabetic coma.

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