January 29


Diabetic Coma – Symptoms, Causes, Prevention and Treatment

By Gabriela

January 29, 2018

A diabetic coma is actually a diabetes complication which is life-threatening and which can lead to unconsciousness. A diabetic coma can occur in those who have type 2 diabetes or type 1 diabetes.

It happens when the blood glucose levels are either too high or too low. The cells found in the body need sugar in order to function.

Hyperglycemia, i.e., high blood glucose might lead to lightheadedness and losing consciousness. Hypoglycemia, i.e., low blood sugar might lead to severe dehydration where the person might lose consciousness.

People might prevent hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia from progressing into a diabetic coma. In case diabetic coma happens, it’s very likely that the physician can try to balance blood sugar levels and try to restore the patient’s consciousness.

Moreover, a person can go into a diabetic coma in case they have diabetic ketoacidosis. DKA, i.e., diabetic ketoacidosis is actually a build-up of chemicals by the name ketones.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

  • Dizziness
  • A headache
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shakiness
  • Confusion

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia

In case of hyperglycemia, one might have significantly increased thirst and more frequent urination. Furthermore, a blood test might show higher sugar levels in their bloodstream. In addition, a urine test might show that they have high sugar levels.

Symptoms of DKA

DKA leads to high blood sugar levels. In addition, the signs are frequent urination and increased thirst. Other symptoms are:

  • Dry or flushed skin
  • Feeling tired
  • Upset stomach

Severe Symptoms of Diabetic Coma

In case someone has these symptoms, they must call 911.

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting

What Can Lead to Diabetic Coma?

There are a few factors which might cause coma and dehydration. Those factors are:

  • Uncontrolled blood glucose
  • Infection
  • Blood clot
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney failure
  • Certain drugs such as steroids, diuretics, and drugs for the heart.
  • Bleeding ulcer
  • Illness

How Is Diabetic Coma Treated?

In case the doctor sees the early symptoms, they might send the patient to the hospital or the emergency. Probably, they will get an IV in order to replace lost electrolytes and fluids like potassium.

Moreover, they might get insulin or other drugs in order to control their blood glucose. The coma might cause death, in case a person leaves their diabetes untreated.

How to Prevent Diabetic Coma

These following recommendations might help prevent the occurring of diabetic coma:

  • Ensure to consume alcohol responsibly and reasonably
  • Know the symptoms of low blood sugar and high blood sugar
  • Test blood glucose levels, especially during time of illness
  • Do test for ketones – for those with high blood sugar levels (type 1 diabetes)
  • Don’t consume alcohol after strenuous exercise
  • Be careful of hypoglycemia at night after exercise  – especially those who take sulfonylureas or insulin

Take Diabetic Coma Seriously

Diabetic coma is a medical emergency and should be taken as such. A diabetic coma might cause death or brain damage in case people don’t get the proper treatment.

Bear in mind that a diabetic coma is a common event, but the risk exists. People need to take proper steps in order to manage their diabetes, consult their doctor and ask questions on how to prevent diabetic coma.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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