Diabetic Coma

Diabetic coma is a serious complication of uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes that is reversible when treated early and properly.


But before discussing diabetic coma and other complications of diabetes, it is best to have a background of its underlying disease first. Diabetes is a medical condition that is characterized by an excessive amount of glucose circulating inside the blood stream. This may be due to a decreased in production of insulin. Another reason is that the cells of the body don’t respond to the action of insulin. The common treatment for diabetes is insulin injection.

If diabetes remained untreated and uncontrolled, the individual has a higher risk in acquiring serious complications. Most of the complications are chronic in nature. If these complications are left untreated, these may become irreversible. The complications include: diabetic coma, ketoacidosis, diabetic retinopathy and, diabetic kidney disease.

What is Diabetic Coma?

Diabetic coma is a condition that commonly occurs when there is a rapid elevation of blood sugars and dehydration of the body. This condition is also characterized by the absence of the ketone bodies in the blood. It is a type of coma that is reversible when managed early. This usually happens on people aged over 60 years old, and may be attributed to the fact that these people have different sense of thirst which makes them prone to dehydration. The main causes of diabetic coma include: heart attack, renal dysfunction, infections, blood clot, and medicines.

Before diabetic coma is diagnosed, the individual usually experiences excessive thirst, hunger, and urination. These clinical manifestations are the classical signs of diabetes. One of the most obvious clinical features of this state is unconsciousness.

This complication may be fatal if not treated early. The excessive loss of great amounts of body water may lead to shock. Then, this will eventually lead to coma and possible death. According to statistics, almost 50 per cent of people experiencing diabetic coma die.

What is the Difference between Diabetic Coma and Ketoacidosis?

Ketoacidosis usually happen on individuals with type 1 diabetes. However, this doesn’t mean that it won’t occur to people with type 2 diabetes. It also affects them, but it is a rare occurrence. On the contrary, diabetic coma is commonly experienced by individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Although ketoacidosis present the same clinical manifestations as diabetic coma, the chemical processes of each greatly differ. Ketoacidosis is characterized by the presence of ketone bodies at its molecular level. If there is not enough insulin in the blood to breakdown sugar into glucose, the fats are broken down. The by-products of fat metabolism are the ketone bodies. When there is accumulation of ketone bodies in the blood stream, this condition occurs. In other words, an acid build-up happens in the blood. On the other hand, ketone bodies at the molecular level are not present on diabetic coma.

How to manage Diabetic Coma?

The first thing need to be done when an individual collapses is to call for help. Immediately call the medical healthcare or transfer the patient immediately to the doctor’s office. It is important not give food or drinks to unconscious patients because this may result to airway obstruction. It is also important to turn the patient on their side to facilitate a path of unobstructed airway.

When the patient collapses, giving of insulin injection should not be made. Certified and experienced individuals are the ones who should give an insulin injection. In addition, if the patient is hypoglycemic, insulin injection might kill him. If glucose meters are available and accessible in this situation, use it immediately to determine the level of his blood sugar.

What are the other Serious Complications of Diabetes?

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the serious complications of diabetes. It is a condition that affects the retina of the eyes. This condition is characterized by blurred vision that may eventually lead to blindness. Almost 80% of diabetic patients who have uncontrolled diabetes for more than ten years have this eye problem.

Diabetic kidney disease, also known as Kimmelstiel-Wilson syndrome, is a condition that refers to kidney failure. Patients who have this condition undergo dialysis. It is the process of cleaning blood from harmful elements. Individuals with renal dysfunction may opt to kidney organ transplants.

Cardiovascular disease and nerve damage are also complications of diabetes disease. Finally amputation of a leg or any part of the body is a serious complication. This usually starts with wounds that have poor healing capacity. After some time, this may lead to gangrene and eventually to amputation.

How can Diabetic Coma and other complications be prevented?

To avoid the complications that were mentioned earlier, many health care providers want their patients to avail machines that check the blood-glucose level regularly. These are very important in attaining the goal of treating diabetes. The goal is to make blood glucose as close possible to the normal range. Some companies provide free diabetic supplies to those who cannot afford them or to those who have medical insurances.

All in all, diabetic coma and other complications of diabetes can be avoided with proper care and instructions from the medical practitioner and the individual involved. The thin line separating life and death lies on the early diagnosis and treatment of the disease. So be sure to undergo regular check-ups as recommended by the healthcare provider.

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