Reviewed by Michael Fuller, MD
Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome develops when blood sugar is very high, and the body begins filtering massive quantities of fluid out of the body. It can cause severe dehydration, loss of consciousness, brain damage, or death.
When blood sugar spikes to very elevated levels, the body begins filtering sugar from the blood in a process that leads to excessive dehydration.
The signs and symptoms of diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome include:
High blood sugar level
Dry, parched mouth
Warm, dry skin with no sweating
Racing or rapid pulse
Breathlessness with exertion
Sleepiness and fatigue
Thick, syrupy blood (when tested)
Often, diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome is caused by an underlying infection, possibly a urinary tract infection or pneumonia. Medications with diuretic effects, substance abuse, undiagnosed diabetes or failure to follow a consistent treatment plan can also be causes.
While most common in undiagnosed people with type 2 diabetes or type 2 patients who are unwilling or unable to follow a treatment plan, it is also a possibility in type 1 diabetes.