Diabetic emergencies: Warning signs and what to do
Diabetes symptoms can quickly turn into emergencies.
The disease of diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, claiming nearly 70,000 lives.
Responding promptly to symptoms of a diabetic emergency can be lifesaving.
Causes and types
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes inhibit the body's ability to manage blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes does so by destroying the cells that produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes reduces how responsive the body is to insulin, while not enough insulin is produced to counter the sugar in the body.
Hence, most diabetic emergencies are related to disruptions in a person's blood sugar levels. Occasionally, even too much of a drug being used to treat diabetes can trigger a diabetic emergency.
The most common diabetic emergencies include the following:
Hypoglycemia is when blood sugar levels are abnormally low. When blood sugar dips very low, it becomes a medical emergency.
Hypoglycemia normally only occurs in people with diabetes who take medication that lowers blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may drop dangerously low when a person is:
consuming too much alcohol
exercising, especially without adjusting food intake or insulin dosage
missing or delaying meals
overdosing on diabetic medication
Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body does not have enough insulin to break down glucose properly, and hormones that normally work opposite insulin are high.
Over time, the body releases hormones that break down fat to provide fuel. This produces acids called ketones. As ketones build up i Continue reading