Diabetic coma is a medical emergency. If left untreated, it can prove to be fatal. Read on to know about the symptoms of this condition and its causes.
Very high or very low sugar can lead to diabetic coma. In this condition, the patient is unconscious, and cannot be awakened. It is reversible but life-threatening if not attended in time. Here is information about its symptoms and causes.
When the sugar level in the body increases, the symptoms are different from those seen when the blood sugar level drops. Let us take a look at these symptoms.
If the blood sugar level is very high, which means the patient is having hyperglycemia, the symptoms are as follows:
- Dry mouth
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Shortness of breath
This case can be due to the following three reasons. The first reason is due to forgotten insulin or diabetic medicines. The second reason is an infection like flu or pneumonia. These infections can lead to increase in the sugar levels of the body. Having consumed too much of glucose-rich food could also be a reason.
On the other hand, if the patient has hypoglycemia, the symptoms are as follows:
- Shivers and shaky nerves
- Tiredness and continuous sweating
- Increase in hunger
- Increased fatigue and confusion
- Abdominal pain
- Progressive drowsiness
- Fruity smell in the breath
The patient experiences these symptoms because of overdose of insulin or diabetic medicines. Rigorous exercising may also lead to this state. Excessive alcoholism is another cause.
Hypoglycemia is itself a complication of diabetes. The human brain needs glucose to function properly. If a person is on insulin, he/she is more likely to become hypoglycemic, due to overdose or skipping meals. Insulin is externally supplied for regulating the glucose levels. The glucose levels drop to an alarmingly low level. This can lead to the unconscious state called diabetic coma.
Diabetic Hyperosmolar Syndrome
This is a state of the body when the person having diabetes is suffering from severe hyperglycemia along with dehydration. As the sugar levels in the body increase in hyperglycemia, the body excretes this excess sugar through urine. Frequent urination may lead to dehydration, which results in thickening of the blood. If this state is not treated, it may lead to coma.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is more commonly seen in type 1 diabetic patients. However, type 2 and gestational diabetic patients may also have this complication. In this complication, the muscle cells in the body starve for energy. The patient’s body breaks the stored fat to gain energy. Ketones are the by-products of this process and are harmful to the body. If this is left untreated, it can lead to diabetic coma.