During your lifetime with diabetes, you are likely to have diabetic episodes time and again. Diabetic episodes usually refer to times of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels); although, ‘diabetic episodes’ can also refer to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), diabetic seizures, diabetic coma, and ketoacidosis (a severe condition of type-1). Hypoglycemia may also be referred to as diabetic shock.

Diabetic episodes involving hypoglycemia can be a scary thing to deal with. It may occur when a diabetic person skips meals, is sick, exercises, eats at the wrong times of day, or as a result of their medications. It is important that families and friends of people with diabetes learn the warning signs of hypoglycemia. A diabetic and their family should carry sweet snacks or glucose tablets for emergency use.

Generally, if you know that the person is having a hypoglycemic diabetic episode you can give them a hard candy to bring them out of it. Afterwards, try to determine what caused it and make appropriate changes to prevent more diabetic episodes. A consultation with a physician may be needed to narrow down the best ways to prevent diabetic episodes in the future. Changes in medication or in diet may be recommended.


Handling Diabetic Episodes


Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to use a hormone called insulin naturally. Insulin is the hormone which allows the intake of sugar in our bloodstream to enter into our cells. You cannot survive without insulin. Type-1 diabetics cannot produce insulin. If they take too much insulin it results in diabetic episodes such as diabetic shock or diabetic coma. Type-1 and Type-2 diabetics can experience these diabetic episodes because their blood sugar drops as well. It is important to know this in case you ever have to handle a diabetic emergency. It is also important to know:

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Fast breathing
  • Pale skin
  • Sweaty skin
  • Headache
  • Trembling
  • Extreme Hunger
  • Numbness in the hands or feet


Symptoms of Diabetic Coma

  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Nausea
  • Deep, sighing breaths
  • Unsteady gait
  • Confusion
  • Flushed, warm, dry skin
  • Odor of nail polish or sweet apple
  • Drowsiness
  • Gradual loss of consciousness


The first aid for both hypoglycemia and diabetic coma are the same. If the person is unconscious or unresponsive, call 911. If the person is unconscious, place them horizontally on a flat surface and check breathing, pulse, and circulation until medical help arrives. If the person is conscious, assist them in getting their medication or some form of sugar in their system. If the person is confused or disoriented, find something for them to eat or drink and seek immediate medical care.