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Diabetic Coma: Causes, Concerns, & Avoidance — an article on the Smart Living Network
May 12, 2008 at 5:41 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Diabetic Coma: Causes, Concerns, & Avoidance


The diabetic coma is the unconsciousness of a diabetic individual caused by the prolonged presence of extreme blood sugar levels including hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Typically the risk associated with diabetic coma is rather small because there are certain signs and symptoms correlated with its presence, in addition to various ways to avoid the condition altogether. However, all individuals with diabetes are at risk.

Diabetic Coma and Hyperglycemia: Signs and Symptoms

Hyperglycemia, also known as high blood sugar, occurs when excess amounts of sugar within the bloodstream are present. This excess sugar can not be regulated by diabetics due to the body's inability to produce or properly utilize insulin. Hyperglycemia is typically associated with several signs and symptoms.

  • Dry Mouth
  • Increased Thirst
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent Urination
  • Shortness of Breath

Diabetic Coma and Hypoglycemia: Signs and Symptoms

Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, occurs when there is not an adequate supply of sugar in the blood stream for proper functioning of the cells. Hypoglycemia is typically associated with several signs and symptoms.

  • Fatigue
  • Increased Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety & Nervousness
  • Increased Perspiration
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness
  • Confusion

Diabetic Coma: Causes

All diabetic comas are caused by the presence of extreme blood sugar levels. It is the prolonged presence of these extreme blood sugar levels that can lead to the development of certain conditions correlated with diabetic coma. If a diabetic coma is not treated in a timely manner, brain damage can occur, and in some cases may serve to be fatal. There are three particular cases responsible for diabetic comas including diabetic ketoacidosis, hypoglycemia, and diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the muscle cells are starved for energy. This results in a bodily response of breaking down reservations of fat releasing ketones that are harmful to the body.


Hypoglycemia can cause a diabetic individual to become unconscious, as the brain must have adequate amounts of sugar for proper function. Hypoglycemia is most common with individuals that do not correctly take medications or skip meals. However, excessive alcohol consumption and vigorous exercise can cause hypoglycemia as well.

Diabetic Hyperosmolar Syndrome

Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome is associated with an extremely high blood sugar. Extreme amounts of sugar in the blood can change its consistency, making it thicker. The excess sugar must be excreted through the urine, causing the increased sensations for urination, causing large amounts of fluid loss. If not treated in a timely manner, this fluid loss can lead to dehydration and loss of consciousness.

Diabetic Coma: Prevention

There are several effective methods for the prevention of diabetic coma. The majority of these ways simply follow the day to day control of your diabetes.

  • Monitor your blood sugars: Your physician will recommend a certain amount of testing dependent upon individual circumstances.
  • Medication Use: If you have been prescribed medications, take them as directed.
  • Meal Planning: This is essential; follow your meal plan for proper blood sugar maintenance.
  • Education: Educate your friends and family of your condition, and when, where, and who to contact during emergencies.
  • Medical Identification: There are ID bracelets and necklaces to alert medical personnel that you are diabetic. This is important information.


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