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Diabetic Coma Treatment

Treatment of diabetic coma is completely based on the blood sugar levels and the severity of the coma. This article will give you information on diabetic coma and its causes, symptoms and treatment.
Diabetic coma is one of the most severe complications of diabetes mellitus. It occurs when both, type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes remains untreated. Coma or the unconsciousness occurs when the blood sugar level drops very low or rises very high. Diabetic coma is a rare condition, and is more commonly seen only in people above 60 years of age.

Diabetic Coma Causes
As mentioned above, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) are the most common causes of diabetic coma in people. Hypoglycemia occurs when a person forgets to take insulin, consumes alcohol or has a poor diet. On the other hand, failure to follow diabetic diet can lead to increase in blood sugar, i.e., hyperglycemia. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a condition that arises in people suffering from type 1 diabetes. Due to lack of adequate amount of insulin, the body breaks down the fat stores. This in turn results in formation of acidic ketone bodies and consequently in diabetic ketoacidosis which, when left untreated can cause diabetic coma. The following are other possible causes.
  • Infections
  • Medications (steroids / diuretics)
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney failure
  • Ulcers
Diabetic Coma Symptoms
The symptoms of this condition differ according to the underlying cause. The following are the signs of diabetic coma caused due to hypoglycemia.
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Pale skin
The signs of high blood sugar or hyperglycemia are slightly different from those of hypoglycemia. The following are symptoms of diabetic coma caused due to hyperglycemia.
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
Other symptoms like slurred speech, mood swings, headache and muscle weakness are also considered as the warning signs of this condition. Therefore, if one observes the above mentioned symptoms, he should consult the doctor immediately. If the symptoms worsen, it can even lead to brain damage and death.

Treatment of Diabetic Coma
Emergency medical treatment is necessary for treating this condition. Initially the doctor will advice the person to undertake blood and urine tests to check the levels of blood sugars, potassium and ketone in it. The further treatment depends on whether diabetic coma is caused due to lowering of blood sugar or rising of it. If the unconsciousness has resulted from lowering of blood sugar, i.e., due to hypoglycemia, the person is injected with the hormone glucagon which helps in increasing the sugar level in the blood. On the other hand, if unconsciousness is caused due to increase in the blood sugar, i.e., due to hyperglycemia, IV fluids are given immediately to control the dehydration. Sodium and potassium supplements are also given which help in normal functioning of the cells.

There are several emergency measures you can undertake if you find a person showing the above symptoms. In case of hypoglycemia, as an emergency remedy the person is given something to eat or drink to increase the sugar level immediately. On the other hand, it is strongly recommended to not to give insulin to the person if he shows the above mentioned symptoms as it can have serious complications or sometimes even negative effects. On the other hand, if you are not sure whether the person is suffering from hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia, it is better to not to give anything to the person except water.

If you are a diabetic patient, it is always advisable to wear a medical bracelet so that you can receive immediate and proper help in case of an emergency. Although diabetic coma treatment is available, you should follow the preventive measures to avoid this severe condition. You should take your meals and medications at scheduled time and follow diabetic diet religiously. It is also advisable to keep an eye on the blood sugar levels and not to let it rise or fall drastically. Take care!
By Madhura Pandit
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