What Happens When You Go into a Diabetic Coma?

Diabetes comes along with a lot of complications and another such life-threatening condition that can affect both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients is a diabetic coma. It is a situation, where the person although alive, cannot respond to any sights, sounds, or any other types of physical simulations. In this article, we shall know more about diabetes coma and what happens when a person slips into one.

Table of Contents

What is Diabetic Coma?

Diabetic coma is a life-threatening condition caused due to either very high or very low glucose levels in a diabetes patient. It affects patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The major risk factors for this type of condition increases when you are on an insulin pump, have fallen sick and the blood sugar has risen dramatically, you have had a heart failure or a kidney-related disease, you have the habit of drinking too much of alcohol, or even when you have failed to manage your diabetes effectively.

In the following paragraphs, we shall study the symptoms and causes of this fatal condition in detail.

diabetic coma

Symptoms of Diabetic Coma

Let us now look into the signs and symptoms which help us understand that a person is slipping into diabetes coma. As mentioned above, it can occur either in cases of hyperglycemia or very high levels of blood glucose or in the case of hypoglycemia or low levels of blood glucose. So, let us look into the symptoms of each:

Signs of hyperglycemia or high blood sugar

  • The patient experiences high level of thirst and urination
  • Stomach pain is another sign
  • The body gives out a fruity odor
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Difficult to breathe easily
  • Heartbeat becomes really fast

Signs of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar

  • Difficulty in speaking and confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat and pulse rate
  • Nausea
  • Hunger and fatigue
  • Feeling of anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Extreme sweating
  • Nightmares
  • Aggressive behavior

What are the Causes of Diabetic Coma?

The causes of diabetic coma are to be known so that appropriate measures can be taken and the situation can be prevented altogether. Following are some of the causes:

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

This is a situation when a patient has extremely high levels of blood glucose or blood sugar in addition to high ketone levels. the blood sugar in such a case is somewhere around 17 mmol/L. When you do not have enough insulin in your body, the cells in the body do not get enough glucose to get energy. In order to get the much-needed energy, the fat stores are then broken down. This, in turn, gives rise to the ketones causing diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis can be a fatal condition causing a diabetic coma.

The condition is very common in people with type 1 diabetes, although the condition can also affect people with another type of diabetes.


There are various risk factors that might lead to the condition of hypoglycemia or low blood glucose levels. it is caused when your body has too much of insulin or not enough food in your body. It is a serious condition which should not be ignored as it leads to the condition of diabetic coma.

Diabetic Hyperosmolar Syndrome

This is a condition where the structure of the blood becomes really thick and syrup-like, as well as the sugar content in the same, is very high. Besides, the sugar level in the blood reaches to more than 600 mg per dl. This condition in itself is fatal and when left untreated, can cause a diabetic coma. Patients who are more prone to getting this syndrome are the ones who are middle-aged or are old.

What Happens When You Go into a Diabetic Coma?

Diabetic coma is a serious condition and you should know what happens when you slip into a diabetic coma.

  • When a person slips into a diabetic coma, he or she is unconscious and fails to respond to any kind of environmental stimulation. However, the person is still alive at that time. But if left untreated or ignored, a diabetic coma can even lead to the death of the diabetes patient.
  • In order to regain the consciousness of a person who has been affected by diabetic coma, the experts try to regain the stabilized blood sugar levels. if the doctor attends to you quickly after you get unconscious, the possibility of regaining the consciousness is much better and quicker.
  • However, if you are left untreated for long, diabetic coma can even cause brain damage or death.

Remember that if either you or your dear ones are experiencing the symptoms of the condition, you should immediately call for help. Till the medical help appears, you can do the following in the meantime:

  • If the blood glucose level is below 70 mg/dl, you need to inject glucagon. Also, you could rub the cheek of the patient with either honey, glucose gel, etc.
  • If, however, the blood glucose level is more than 70 mg/dl, just wait for the medical help to arrive as there is nothing much that you can do about it.
  • When help arrives, talk to them in detail about the steps that you might have taken while helping the patient.

Can Diabetic Coma Be Prevented?

It is very much possible to prevent the occurrence of a diabetic coma. The following are the ways in which the same can be prevented:

  • In case you a type 1 diabetes patient, you should go and get your ketones levels checked. This is particularly true if the blood glucose levels are too high
  • Avoid smoking and do not drink alcohol at all, particularly after you have exercised hard
  • Educate yourself about the warning signs of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
  • Keep a close watch on the blood glucose levels of your body
  • Eat a healthy diet as recommended by the nutritionist and exercise regularly, as prescribed
  • Finally, take medicines and drugs as prescribed by your doctor.

We hope that the above post has been helpful in educating you about diabetes coma and how can you get affected with the same. In times of emergency, you should be aware as to what happens when a person slips into this condition and how should you deal with the same. However, an expert advice is always recommended when you think of taking a particular step to deal with a situation of this type!

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