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 A coma is a state of unconsciousness.
 A diabetic coma is a life-threatening
diabetes complication.
 If you have diabetes, dangerously high
blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or dangerously
low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can lead to
a diabetic coma.
 If you lapse into a diabetic coma,
you're alive — but you can't awaken or
respond purposefully to sights, sounds
or other types of stimulation. Left
untreated, a diabetic coma can be
fatal.
 The prospect of a diabetic coma is
scary, but there's good news. The risk
of a diabetic coma is small — and
prevention is in your hands. Start by
following your diabetes treatment
High Blood Sugar Low Blood Sugar
• Increased thirst • Shaky or nervous
• Frequent urination • Tired
• Dry mouth • Sweaty
• Nausea • Hungry
• Vomiting • Irritable
• Shortness of breath • Confused
 Diabetic ketoacidosis.

 Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome.

 Hypoglycemia.
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. Left untreated,
diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to a diabetic
coma. Diabetic ketoacidosis is most
common in people who have type 1
diabetes, but it can also affect people who
have type 2 diabetes or gestational
diabetes.
If your blood sugar level tops 600 milligrams per
deciliter (mg/dL), or 33 millimoles per liter
(mmol/L), 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. Left untreated, diabetic hyperosmolar
syndrome can cause life-threatening dehydration
and loss of consciousness. Diabetic hyperosmolar
syndrome is most common in older adults who have
type 2 diabetes
• Your brain needs glucose to function. In severe
cases, low blood sugar may cause you to pass
out. Hypoglycemia is most common in people
who take too much insulin or skip meals or
snacks. Exercising too vigorously or drinking
too much alcohol can have the same effect.
How quickly your blood sugar drops influences
the symptoms of hypoglycemia. For example, if
it takes a few hours for your blood sugar to
drop 50 mg/dL (3 mmol/L), the symptoms may
be minimal. If your blood sugar drops the same
amount in a few minutes, the symptoms will be
more pronounced
Risk Factors
 Anyone who has diabetes is at risk of a
diabetic coma. Risk factors for the
conditions that may lead to a diabetic coma
vary, however.
 For example, diabetic ketoacidosis is most
common in people who have type 1
diabetes. Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome
is most common in older adults who have
type 2 diabetes — especially those who
don't monitor their blood sugar or who don't
know they have diabetes
Complications
If Left Untreated,
a diabetic coma can lead to permanent
brain damage.

In some cases, an untreated


diabetic coma can be fatal
Treatment
 Emergency treatment for a diabetic coma
depends on whether your blood sugar level
is too high or too low.

 If your blood sugar level is too high, you


may be given intravenous fluids to restore
water to your tissues. You may need
potassium, sodium or chlorine supplements
to help your cells function correctly. When
enough fluid has been replaced, short-
acting insulin may be used to help your
tissues absorb glucose again. Any
underlying infections will be treated as well
Treatment
 If your blood sugar level is too low, you
may be given an injection of the hormone
glucagon. The injection will cause your
blood sugar level to quickly rise.

 Consciousness typically returns when blood


sugar reaches a normal level.
Prevention
 Follow your meal plan. Consistent
snacks and meals can help you control your
blood sugar level.
 Keep an eye on your blood sugar
level. Frequent blood sugar tests can
tell you whether you're keeping your
blood sugar level in your target range
— and alert you to dangerous highs or
lows
Prevention
 Take your medication as directed. If you
have frequent episodes of high or low blood
sugar, your doctor may adjust the dosage or
timing of your medication. Your doctor may
recommend regular glycated hemoglobin
tests to determine how well you're managing
your blood sugar.
 Educate your loved ones, friends and
co-workers. Teach loved ones and other
close contacts how to recognize early signs
and symptoms of blood sugar extremes —
and how to summon emergency help should
you pass out.
Prevention
 Wear a medical ID bracelet or
necklace. If you're unconscious, the ID can
provide valuable information to your loved
ones, co-workers and others — including
emergency personnel.
 Above all, keep your perspective. For most
people who have diabetes, the risk of a
diabetic coma is small. Take good care of
yourself to help prevent diabetes
complications.