If you or somebody you love or care for has been diagnosed with diabetes you might be wondering, “What is a diabetic coma?” This is an important question to get answered because diabetic coma is a very serious condition. Diabetic coma causes brain injury and even death in some cases.

Diabetic coma is a condition that causes reversible unconsciousness if treated quickly and appropriately. Diabetic coma requires immediate emergency care and hospitalization. Diabetic coma recovery is possible when the condition is treated properly.

There are three different causes of diabetic coma. Diabetic coma is caused by poor control of diabetes. According to Wikipedia (diabetic coma description), the three types of diabetic coma include:

  1. Severe diabetic hypoglycemia
  2. Diabetic ketoacidosis advanced enough to result in unconsciousness from a combination of severe hyperglycemia, dehydration and shock, and exhaustion
  3. Hyperosmolar nonketotic coma in which extreme hyperglycemia and dehydration alone are sufficient to cause unconsciousness.


Most of the time, diabetic coma sugar levels play a huge role in this diabetic complication. An extremely low diabetic coma blood sugar level or an extremely high diabetic coma blood sugar level can push somebody into a diabetic coma fairly quickly.

There are several symptoms of a diabetic coma. If you or somebody you know is suffering from any of these symptoms, check blood sugar levels immediately. If you feel symptoms are coming on extremely fast, call for emergency assistance.


Common Diabetic Coma Symptoms


Diabetic comas are not as common as they were several decades ago. Previous to home blood sugar monitoring, diabetic comas happened fairly frequently. With the increase in technology and education, this complication is much less likely to occur. None the less, it is very important for anybody who has diabetes or interacts with somebody with diabetes to understand the symptoms of a diabetic coma.

According to information obtained from the Mayo Clinic, the initial symptoms that a diabetic will start to experience are those related to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Symptoms of extreme blood sugar levels can include:

Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)

  • Frequent Urination
  • Severe Thirst
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea, Vomiting, or Stomach Pain
  • Breathing Problems
  • Fruity Smelling Breath, Urine or Sweat
  • Rapid Breathing and/or Pulse


Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

  • Nervousness
  • Shaky
  • Sweaty, and/or Clammy Skin
  • Sleepiness
  • Extreme Hunger
  • Unusually Aggressive or Agitated/Irritable
  • Confusion
  • Rapid or Irregular Pulse


Treatment for Signs of Diabetic Coma


If you are experiencing signs of a diabetic coma, check your blood sugar levels immediately and respond accordingly. If you are hyperglycemic, follow your treatment guidelines and administer insulin as instructed by your physician. If you are a non-insulin dependant diabetic, contact your physician or seek emergency medical help immediately to avoid a diabetic coma.

If you are hypoglycemic, follow the guidelines set by your physician for increasing blood sugar levels quickly. This can be done with diabetic sugar tablets, glucose syrup, sugar packets, a spoonful of sugar, a piece of chocolate or candy, juice, or regular soda pop (just to name a few). If you have consumed sugar to begin increasing your levels and you are not starting to feel better or your blood sugar is not increasing, contact your physician or seek emergency medical care immediately.

If you are following your treatment plan and are still experiencing symptoms, seek medical help. If is also important to seek medical help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms and your blood sugar levels are within normal limits. Other complications can cause these symptoms.


Diabetic Coma Death: Is It Really Possible?


Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes. Diabetic coma death is possible. If a diabetic coma goes untreated it can lead to a permanent coma, severe brain damage, and even death. That is why it is so important to seek emergency medical care immediately if you are experiencing the signs and symptoms, and are unable to treat them effectively on your own.

There are other conditions that can cause a coma in a person with diabetes. Thus, if you suffer from diabetes and are feeling off or you are unable to control your diabetes well, seek medical attention. It is also a good idea to wear a medical bracelet that identifies you as a diabetic.

A diabetic coma is preventable. If diabetic coma occurs, it can be treated and reversed if caught quickly. Many diabetics live long and healthy lives, without complications, because they are educated and aware of the signs and symptoms to watch for. You can live well with diabetes too!


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