A diabetic seizure used to be referred to as a diabetic fit. There is a number of different reasons why a person may have a diabetic seizure. According to LiveStrong.com, a diabetic seizure may be caused by:

Diabetic Ketoacidosis – When the body cannot process blood sugar properly, it resorts to burning fats and proteins for energy. This can lead to an accumulation of acidic byproducts called ketones. This condition can lead to brain swelling, causing someone to have a diabetic fit. Diabetic ketoacidosis most typically occurs in type 1 diabetes.

Nonketotic hyperosmolar syndrome – This condition is similar to ketoacidosis, but almost exclusively in patients with type 2 diabetes. It is caused by a combination of high blood sugar and dehydration. According to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, up to 40 percent of patients who develop this condition die from it.

Low blood sugar – The brain functions poorly without adequate glucose. Therefore an episode of hypoglycemia can lead to a diabetic fit. Diabetic seizures such as this can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of a diabetic fit caused by low blood sugar include headache, confusion, irritability, poor concentration, dizziness, and/or slurred speech. Without prompt treatment this condition can lead to a diabetic coma or even death.


Preparing for a Diabetic Fit


Diabetic and those commonly around them should take the time to learn what to do in case a person has a diabetic seizure. Prevention is of course the best method. Therefore a diabetic should follow their prescribed diet, exercise regimen, and medication dosages carefully. It is also recommended that a diabetic check their blood sugar levels before exercising, driving, or operating machinery. Keeping glucose-boosting snacks around at all times is also important in preventing a diabetic episode.

Family members and those who are normally around a diabetic should easily be able to find and know how to use a blood glucose meter. They should also know where to find any medication, snacks, or sugar pills that are nearby. Finally, people commonly in close proximity to a diabetic should be able to recognize the symptoms of a diabetic seizure. Common symptoms include:

  • Unexplained perspiration
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of shakiness or dizziness
  • Paleness
  • Unusual hunger


The symptoms can be subtle and difficult to recognize. That is why it is so important to know them well. Upon noticing any possible symptoms, blood glucose levels should be checked. If they are below 60 mg/dL, a glucose boosting snack can be given. Consuming the following will help:

  • Two to four glucose pills
  • 4 oz. of fruit juice or non-diet soda
  • 5-6 pieces of hard candy
  • 1 to 2 tsp. of sugar or honey


Another reading should be taken every 15 minutes after the snack. If blood sugar levels are still not high enough, another snack should be given, and this process should continue until the diabetic’s blood sugar level reaches 100 mg/dL. If the diabetic loses consciousness or suffers a seizure, medical help should be sought immediately.


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