Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Coma that develops in severe and inadequately treated cases of diabetes mellitus and is commonly fatal, unless appropriate therapy is instituted promptly; results from reduced oxidative metabolism of the central nervous system that, in turn, stems from severe ketoacidosis and possibly also from the histotoxic action of the ketone bodies and disturbances in water and electrolyte balance.
A diabetic coma is a life-threatening diabetes complication that causes unconsciousness.
If you have diabetes, dangerously high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can lead to a diabetic coma.
Diabetic coma is more common in people with type I diabetes, which was previously known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). This type of coma is triggered by the build-up of chemicals called ketones. Ketones are strongly acidic and cause the blood to become too acidic.
When there is not enough insulin circulating, the body cannot use glucose for energy. Instead fat is broken down and then converted to ketones in the liver. The ketones can build up excessively when there is insufficient insulin in the body.
Risk factors can include:
Medicines (diuretics, heart medication, or steroids).
Uncontrolled blood sugar.
If you lapse into a diabetic coma, you're alive — but you can't awaken or respond purposefully to sights, sounds or other types of stimulation. Left untreated, a diabetic coma can be fatal.
The prospect of a diabetic coma is scary, but fortunately you can take steps to help prevent a diabetic coma. Start by following your diabetes treatment plan.
Shortness of breath.
A very dry mouth.
A rapid heartbeat.
If you experience a diabetic coma, prompt diagnosis is essential. The emergency medical team will do a physical exam and may ask those who are with you about your medical history.
Lab tests: You may need various lab tests to measure:
Your ketone level.
The amount of nitrogen or creatinine in your blood.
The amount of potassium, phosphate and sodium in your blood.
Your blood sugar level.
The type of emergency treatment for a diabetic coma depends on whether your blood sugar level is too high or too low.
High blood sugar: If your blood sugar level is too high, you may need:
Potassium, sodium or phosphate supplements to help your cells function correctly.
Insulin to help your tissues absorb glucose again.
Treatment for any underlying infections.
Intravenous fluids to restore water to your tissues.
Low blood sugar: If your blood sugar level is too low, you may be given a glucagon injection, which will cause your blood sugar level to quickly rise. Consciousness typically returns when blood sugar reaches a normal level.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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