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What is a diabetic coma?

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Quick Answer

A diabetic coma is a state of continued unconsciousness that is a life-threatening complication of diabetes, according to Mayo Clinic. It typically results from hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis or diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome. A person experiencing a diabetic coma requires immediate medical attention, according to Healthline.

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What is a diabetic coma?
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Full Answer

Hypoglycemia is a state of severely low blood sugar. In type 1 diabetics, blood sugar levels can drop so low that a coma results. Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome is a state of extremely high blood sugar. This syndrome occurs in type 2 diabetics, most commonly in older adults.

Diabetic ketoacidosis results from the body using fat for energy instead of glucose, according to Healthline. The body resorts to fat for energy when there is insufficient insulin to utilize glucose. Ketone bodies subsequently build up in the bloodstream. People with both forms of diabetes can develop diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis may lead to diabetic coma if left untreated.

Diabetics need to monitor themselves for signs of high and low blood sugar, according to Mayo Clinic. Signs of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, and shortness of breath. Signs of low blood sugar include shakiness, sweating, fatigue, confusion and hunger. Diabetics who experience extreme symptoms of high or low blood sugar and feel like they might pass out should call 911.

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