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Clinical Overview
Diagnosis and Treatment

Diabetic Coma

Diagnosis and Treatment

Prompt diagnosis is essential in preventing deadly results in the case of diabetic coma. Any diabetic who has collapsed must receive immediate emergency care; any information about recent food and beverage intake, insulin doses, or other activities can be helpful in pinpointing the root cause of the diabetic coma.

Blood sugar, urinalysis, creatinine and nitrogen level tests, potassium tests, and tests to measure the proportion of blood cells to fluid in the blood are usually conducted to rule out false culprits.

In the case of high blood sugar, intravenous fluids can be administered to restore water to the tissues, as well as potassium, sodium and chlorine supplements. Once fluid has been replaced, fast-acting insulin can be administered to restore proper cell function and help tissues absorb glucose.

If low blood sugar has caused the coma, the hormone glucagon can quickly raise blood sugar.

As long as no brain damage or other serious damage has taken place during unconsciousness, consciousness usually returns once blood sugar is restored to a normal level.

Diabetic coma is a very dangerous medical event, but can be prevented through careful management of diet, lifestyle and insulin intake, as well as blood sugar monitoring. It is also important to educate trusted friends and loved ones about the warning signs and what to do in case of an emergency. Finally, wearing a medical ID bracelet can give caregivers vital, life-saving information in the case that diabetic coma does develop.

Last updated: Dec-17-07

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