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What Happens When You Go Into A Diabetic Coma


What Are The Causes Of Dka

I Was Sinking Into a Diabetic Coma | Health

Lets split the causes into two bucketsthe biological ones, and those triggered by behavioral/societal forces.

First up, whats actually happening in the body to trigger DKA?

  • DKA is brought on by a lack of insulin, the hormone generated by your pancreas to help your body produce glucose. That glucose is the stuff that provides energy to your muscles.
  • Without insulin, your body begins to break down fat in attempt to get the energy it needs, a process that ultimately results in a dangerous buildup of acids, known as ketones, in your bloodstream.
  • When this happens, your body can go into shock, and the acid buildup causes swelling in the brain. Clearly, this requires emergency care, as it can induce a coma and even become life-threatening.
  • So, what about those other forces we mentioned? To put it bluntly, many people cant afford insulin.

    When someone has economic concerns, they might chronically underdose their insulin, thinking that theyre preserving it or stretching it out, but underdosing insulin is just as bad as not taking it at all, says Dr. Christofides. In fact, the number one risk factor for DKA is a lack of health coverage resulting in an inability to afford insulin.


    Diabetic ketoacidosis is caused by a lack of insulin in the body which can lead to life-threatening results.

    When The Coma Begins

    A coma is essentially an umbrella term for a long state of unconsciousness, which can be caused by a massive array of different health problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s definitely an emergency situation, and the person should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Calling an ambulance is likely a no-brainer if there’s an accident or stroke involved. According to Medical News Today, there are also certain types of coma, such as ones caused by high blood CO2 levels or low blood sugar, that start with the person getting agitated and increasingly confused before finally passing out.

    However, even if a person falls into a coma because of some less identifiable reason, there are ways to tell that they’re not just having a really good nap. A coma patient’s eyes are generally closed, and their breathing may be irregular. They tend to have no pain response at all, apart from certain reflex movements but not brainstem reflexes, which more or less take a holiday. This is why a comatose person’s pupils don’t contract and dilate properly, when subjected to light. Oh, and there’s also the main symptom that comas are known for: The person simply can’t wake up.

    Please don’t attempt to diagnose this stuff yourself if you suspect someone’s in a coma, though. The 10 minutes you spend browsing WebMD would be much better spent by calling for help, so doctors can use their brain CT scans and blood tests to figure out exactly what’s up.

    What Is The Recovery Period Or Healing Time For Diabetic Coma

    Even after the sugar level is normalized in a person, he or she will still experience nervous disorders like seizures or talking problems. Problems still persists even after recovering from diabetic coma. The recovery time cannot be predicted and depends on individual case.


    When immediately attended and given glucose biscuits, a person can be quickly wakened up. Late attention might take more glucose to be given to the person for better healing.

    Following Up With Diabetic Conditions

    Consult your doctor and take necessary guidelines on how to prevent any incident of diabetic coma or any other complexities if you are diabetic. Your doctor may prescribe you tests to determine the exact dos and donts to you on how to manage diabetes.

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    What Causes High Blood Sugar Levels

    Managing diabetes is like a three-way balancing act because you have to watch:

  • the medicines you take (
  • the food that you eat
  • the amount of exercise you get
  • All three need to be balanced. If any one of these is off, blood sugar levels can be too. In general, higher than normal blood glucose levels can be caused by:


    • not taking your diabetes medicine when you’re supposed to or not taking the right amounts
    • not following the meal plan
    • not getting enough exercise
    • having an illness, like the flu
    • stress
    • taking other kinds of medicines that affect how your diabetes medicines work

    A single high blood sugar reading usually isn’t cause for alarm it happens to everyone with diabetes from time to time. But if you have high blood sugar levels a lot, let your parents and your diabetes health care team know. Insulin or meal plans may need adjusting, or you may have an equipment issue, like an insulin pump that isn’t working right. Whatever the case, make sure you get help so you can get your blood sugar levels back under control.

    How Do I Treat Hyperglycemia

    What Happens When You Go Into A Diabetic Coma ...

    You can often lower your blood sugar level by exercising. However, if your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dl, check your urine for ketones. If you have ketones, do not exercise.

    Exercising when ketones are present may make your blood sugar level go even higher. You’ll need to work with your doctor to find the safest way for you to lower your blood sugar level.

    Cutting down on the amount of food you eat might also help. Work with your dietitian to make changes in your meal plan. If exercise and changes in your diet don’t work, your doctor may change the amount of your medication or insulin or possibly the timing of when you take it.

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    Diabetic Coma Can Be Caused By Diabetic Ketoacidosis

    Diabetic Ketoacidosis can be the reason for diabetic coma. The fat stored in the body cells begins to break down when the muscle cells run out of energy. Ketones are produced during such process. Diabetic ketoacidosis results in to diabetic coma when left untreated. People who suffer from type 1 diabetes are more likely to get affected with diabetic ketoacidosis. However, people suffering from gestational diabetes or type 2 diabetes can also suffer from diabetic ketoacidosis

    What Are The Signs Of A Possible Diabetic Coma Coming

    Thankfully your body will usually provide warning signs when your blood sugar is too high or two low. Be sure to check your blood sugar levels whenever you have any of the symptoms below and do whats needed to get yourself back on track. Find tips on how to recognize and treat hypoglycemia here.

    Here are some signs that your blood sugar may be too low:

    • Sweating
    • A fruity smell to your breath

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    When To Call A Professional

    If you have type 1 diabetes and feel unwell, check your blood sugar levels often. Also test your urine for ketones. Call your doctor if you have:


    • Unexplained nausea and vomiting with or without abdominal pain,
    • Moderate or high levels of urine ketones, or
    • Your blood sugar is high and you can’t lower it by adjusting your insulin dose.

    Are There Any Possible Complications From Dka

    What It’s Like: Going into a diabetic coma (2013-10-18)

    As DKA is life-threatening, its important to seek emergency care as soon as you suspect youre suffering from the condition. Fluid loss from DKA can lead to kidney and organ damage, brain swelling that can eventually cause a coma, and fluid buildup in your lungs. The sooner youre treated for DKA, the less likely you are to suffer from these major complications.

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    Learn First Aid For Someone Who Is Having A Diabetic Emergency

    1. Give them something sweet to eat or a non-diet drink.

    If someone has a diabetic emergency, their blood sugar levels can become too low. This can make them collapse.Giving them something sugary will help raise their blood sugar levels and improve their bodily function. Avoid giving them a diet drink, as it wont have any sugar in it and will not help them.

    2. Reassure the person. Most people will gradually improve, but if in doubt, call 999.


    If you cant call 999, get someone else to do it.

    What Is Insulin Shock

    âInsulin shockâ is a common term for low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. It may also be called an insulin reaction.

    The exact blood sugar level that leads to symptoms varies, but is generally less than 70 mg/dL. A low blood sugar level triggers your body to release the hormone epinephrine, also called adrenaline. That causes the early symptoms of insulin shock, which can come on quickly.

    If you donât treat your dropping blood sugar ASAP, your brain will stop getting glucose and your symptoms will get worse. If levels stay low for too long, you can have a seizure or go into a diabetic coma.

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    Move The Person To A Safe Position

    If you are physically able to, Greta suggests that you make sure the person is in a position where he can’t hurt himself. For example, if he is unconscious and slumped over in a chair, try to move him into a lying position on the floor.

    Try to get him into a position where he can breathe okay, she adds. Positioning him on his side is a good idea.

    Treatment For Diabetic Coma

    What Happens When You Go Into Diabetic Coma

    Treatment options for diabetic coma include:

    • ketoacidotic coma intravenous fluids, insulin and administration of potassium
    • hyperosmolar coma intravenous fluids, insulin, potassium and sodium given as soon as possible
    • hypoglycaemic coma an injection of glucagon to reverse the effects of insulin or administration of intravenous glucose.

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    Recovering From Diabetic Coma

    Once your blood glucose levels are in a healthy range, you should start to feel better almost immediately. If youve been unconscious, you should come around soon after treatment begins.


    If the symptoms occurred for a while before treatment or if you were in a diabetic coma for several hours or longer, you could experience some brain damage. An untreated diabetic coma may also result in death.

    People who receive emergency treatment for a diabetic coma usually recover fully. Your doctor may recommend that you wear a medical identification bracelet that explains the nature of your diabetes and other health concerns. This may help ensure you get the proper treatment for future problems quickly.

    If you experience a diabetic coma without knowing you have diabetes, your doctor will work with you to develop a diabetes treatment plan. This will include medications, as well as recommendations for diet and exercise.

    How Is Dka Diagnosed And Treated

    If youre suffering from acute DKA, youll be admitted to the ICU for frequent glucose and vital-sign monitoring, and to begin the process of restoring electrolytes via fluid IV. Youll also have constant insulin infusions until the levels of ketones are reduced and your blood-sugar levels return to normal. Once this treatment is underway, recovery is rapid. A typical hospital stay for DKA is only a few days.

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    What Is High Blood Sugar

    The is the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and it’s also formed and stored inside the body. It’s the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and it’s carried to each cell through the bloodstream.

    Hyperglycemia is the medical word for high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels happen when the body either can’t make insulin or can’t respond to insulin properly . The body needs insulin so glucose in the blood can enter the cells of the body where it can be used for energy. In people who have developed diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood, resulting in hyperglycemia.

    Having too much sugar in the blood for long periods of time can cause serious health problems if it’s not treated. Hyperglycemia can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems. These problems don’t usually show up in kids or teens who have had the disease for only a few years. But they can happen in adulthood in some people with diabetes, particularly if they haven’t managed or controlled their diabetes well.

    Blood sugar levels are considered high when they’re above your target range. Your diabetes health care team will let you know what your target blood sugar levels are.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Dka

    What Happens To Your Body in a Coma?

    Beware the fruity breath. This tell-tale sign of diabetic ketoacidosis is caused by the body breaking down ketones, which become acetone which we then excrete through breathing. If you see someone whos breathing rapidly and their breath smells like fruit or a nail salon, they probably have DKA, says Dr. Klonoff.


    Heavy breathing, known as Kussmaul breathing, is a reflex to try to bring up the pH that has gotten to be too low, according to Dr. Klonoff. Its named after Adolph Kussmaul, a German physician who first observed it in his patients with severe diabetes in 1874. You could be breathing really hard, and not even realize necessarily that youre doing it, Klonoff says.

    Diabetic ketoacidosis affects the brain, making it work through what feels like mental sludge, according to Dr. Christofides. Confusion and irritability are major signs to watch out for.

    As a result of your brain swelling, DKA can make you feel as if youre drunk and act just as irrationally. Ive seen situations where people have gotten into fights, or have become a risk to themselves physically, or had an intervention by law enforcement while driving because they appear to be acting drunk or are incoherent when stopped, says Dr. Christofides.

    The main warning signs of DKA are:

    • Heavy breathing
    • Blurred vision
    • High blood-sugar levels

    The three Ps of DKA:


    • Polydipsiathirst
    • Polyuriaurination
    • Polyphagiaappetite

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    Recovering From A Coma

    A coma usually only lasts a few weeks, during which time the person may start to gradually wake up and gain consciousness, or progress into a different state of unconsciousness called a vegetative state or minimally conscious state:

    • a vegetative state where a person is awake but shows no signs of being aware of their surroundings or themselves
    • a minimally conscious state where a person has limited awareness that comes and goes

    Some people may recover from these states gradually, while others may not improve for years, if at all. See the page on disorders of consciousness for more information about these conditions.

    People who do wake up from a coma usually come round gradually. They may be very agitated and confused to begin with.

    Some people will make a full recovery and be completely unaffected by the coma. Others will have disabilities caused by the damage to their brain. They may need physiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychological assessment and support during a period of rehabilitation, and may need care for the rest of their lives.


    The chances of someone recovering from a coma largely depend on the severity and cause of their brain injury, their age and how long they’ve been in a coma. But it’s impossible to accurately predict whether the person will eventually recover, how long the coma will last and whether they’ll have any long-term problems.

    How Is Dka Treated

    DKA is very serious, but it can be treated if you go to the doctor or hospital right away. To feel better, a person with DKA needs to get insulin and fluids through a tube that goes into a vein in the body .

    Let your parents or someone on your diabetes health care team know if you have any of these symptoms or are sick and don’t know what to do to take care of your diabetes.

    Always wear a medical identification bracelet or necklace that says you have diabetes. Then, if you are not feeling well, whoever’s helping you will know to call for medical help. Medical identification can also include your doctor’s phone number or a parent’s phone number.

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    First Off What Causes A Diabetic Coma

    The condition is primarily caused when your blood sugar gets way too high or way too low for too long a period of time. Left untreated, a diabetic coma can be fatal.

    When muscle cells need energy, your body may start breaking down fat stores, which form toxic acids known as ketones. Combine these with high blood sugar and you could develop a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, which could lead to diabetic coma.

    Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome occurs when blood sugar levels get too high, making your blood thick and syrupy. This can lead to blood vessel complications and diabetic coma.

    Diabetic comas can be brought on by:

    • Excessive alcohol consumption
    • Skipping doses of insulin or insulin delivery problems
    • Surgery or other trauma
    • Using illegal substances

    How Long Do Diabetic Comas Last

    Diabetic Coma

    Diabetic ketoacidosis, if it progresses and worsens without treatment, can eventually cause unconsciousness, from a combination of a very high blood sugar level, dehydration and shock, and exhaustion. Coma only occurs at an advanced stage, usually after 36 hours or more of worsening vomiting and hyperventilation.

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    Coma Can Be An Endless Nightmare

    One might expect that the ability to dream would make a coma less dull. As Business Insider tells us, this is indeed true, but not necessarily in the way you expect, particularly if it’s a medically induced coma which is, after all, essentially a form of anesthesia. Turns out, it can lead to some pretty interesting imaginary experiences, and by “interesting,” we mean “incredibly scary.”

    People who have been in an induced coma have described the experience as a constant nightmare you can’t wake up from, and that it actually took longer to heal the psychic scars from the hellish nightmares than it did from physical ailments. Of course, there’s also the other end of the spectrum. In 2012, neurosurgeon Eben Alexander wrote in Newsweek that he visited heaven during his seven-day coma.

    According to Dr. Michael J. Souter of the University of Washington in Seattle, such hallucinations and nightmares are probably just the comatose person’s brain scrambling to understand the sounds that keep trickling in from the outside world. While that does sound more scientific than vivid visions of heaven and hell, we can’t help but feel that doesn’t really matter when you’re stuck in an incredibly detailed hallucination that you absolutely cannot wake up from.

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