The Risks and Symptoms of a Diabetic Coma

diabetes blood sugar level

It is important for diabetics to keep track of their blood sugar levels because any discrepancies that result in dangerously high or low levels can lead to a diabetic coma.

A diabetic coma is a life-threatening complication associated with the disease that causes unconsciousness. If left untreated, a diabetic coma can be fatal.

Risk Factors for a Diabetic Coma

Anyone who has diabetes is at risk of experiencing a diabetic coma. If you suffer from type 1 diabetes, you're at risk of a diabetic coma due to low blood sugar or diabetic ketoacidosis. If you have type 2 diabetes, you're at risk of a diabetic coma due to diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome, particularly if you're middle-aged or older. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at risk due to insulin delivery problems as well.

It is important to know that even if you're on an insulin pump, you have to check your blood sugar frequently. Always ensure that there are no kinks in your insulin pump tubing, as this could cause all insulin delivery to stop. Even tubeless pumps can occasionally cause problems that can cause insulin delivery to stop.

There are other risk factors that diabetics should be aware of as well, such as illness, trauma or surgery. When you are sick or injured, your blood sugar levels tend to rise. This sudden rise may cause diabetic ketoacidosis if you have type 1 diabetes and don't increase your insulin intake to compensate. Congestive heart failure or kidney disease can also increase your risk of diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome, which can lead to a diabetic coma.

Diabetes management is absolutely key to staying healthy, and if you do not monitor your blood sugar properly or take your medications as directed, you are increasing your risk of developing long-term complications and diabetic coma. Deliberately skipping insulin in order to lose weight can also put you at risk for diabetic coma. Excessive alcohol consumption and substance abuse can have unpredictable effects on your blood sugar, and it is best to avoid these things as well.

Symptoms of a Diabetic Coma

Fortunately, there are signs and symptoms you can watch out for in order to treat a diabetic coma in time. Usually you will experience signs and symptoms of high or low blood sugar. The symptoms you may experience when your blood sugar level is too high are: increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, stomach pain, fruity breath odor, very dry mouth and rapid heartbeat. The symptoms you need to look for when experiencing low blood sugar levels are: shakiness or nervousness, fatigue, sweating, hunger, nausea, irritability, irregular or racing heartbeat, difficulty speaking and confusion.

Some people develop a condition known as hypoglycemia unawareness, which will prevent a person from noticing the warning signs that signal a drop in blood sugar. For this reason, it is important to test your blood sugar and follow your diabetes treatment plan based on the test results. If you do not start to feel better quickly, or if you start to feel worse, you should call for emergency help. A diabetic coma is a medical emergency and must be tended to immediately.

Source: Mayo Clinic