Diabetic Coma

Worst Case Scenario: Diabetic Coma

If you have diabetes, dangerously high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can lead to a diabetic coma.

Diabetic coma is a life-threatening event. You fall into unconsciousness: you are alive but you can’t wake or respond to stimulation. All people suffering from diabetes are at risk of diabetic coma.

You can prevent diabetic coma by following your diabetes plan. Antecedents of diabetic coma usually are the symptoms of extremely high blood sugar (increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, stomach pain, fruity breath odor, very dry mouth, rapid heartbeat)  or extremely low blood sugar (shakiness or nervousness, fatigue, sweating, hunger, nausea, irritability, irregular or racing heartbeat, difficulty speaking, confusion).

If you experience any symptoms of high or low blood sugar, test your blood sugar and follow your diabetes treatment plan based on the test results. If you don’t start to feel better quickly, or you start to feel worse, call for emergency help.

Experiencing prolonged sugar extremes (either too low or too high blood sugar levels) may cause conditions that can lead to diabetic coma. These are the following:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis. If your muscle cells become starved for energy, your body may respond by breaking down fat stores. This process forms toxic acids known as ketones. If left untreated, diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to a diabetic coma.
  • Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome. If your blood sugar level tops 600 mg/dL, the condition is known as diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome. When your blood sugar gets this high, your blood becomes thick and syrupy. The excess sugar passes from your blood into your urine, which triggers a filtering process that draws tremendous amounts of fluid from your body.
  • Hypoglycemia. Your brain needs glucose to function. In severe cases, low blood sugar may cause you to pass out. Hypoglycemia can be caused by too much insulin or too little food. Exercising too vigorously or drinking too much alcohol can have the same effect.