Diabetes Emergency Signs You Must Know!
When diabetes signs get worse quickly, they can sometimes become an emergency. It’s important to know what to do in an emergency and how to spot them.
About 12.6% of people in the United States have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes people who have not been diagnosed.
But, according to the CDC, diabetes or consequences from it is still the seventh most common cause of death in the U.S. In 2016, it killed almost 25 out of every 100,000 people.
It may be possible to save lives if you know the signs and can act quickly. Find out what to do and how diabetes can become dangerous by reading on.
Any sudden sign that you can’t explain should get you to the doctor.
Causes and types
The immune system kills the cells that make insulin in people with type 1 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes have trouble responding to insulin. Because of this, the body doesn’t make enough insulin to control the amount of glucose it has.
When these events happen, here are some of the most common signs you should look out for and what you should do.
When blood sugar levels are too low, generally below 70 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), this is called hypoglycemia.
If you don’t get care, having such low blood sugar can cause seizures and even kill you. It’s an issue with health care. It is easy to fix in the short run, though, as long as someone knows the signs.
It’s possible for blood sugar to drop too low when:
The warning signs of hypoglycemia include:
confusion, dizziness, and nausea
feeling shaky, nervous, irritable or anxious
sweating, chills, and pale, clammy skin
weakness and tiredness
tingling in the mouth area
coma or loss of consciousness
weight loss if hypoglycemia persists
When these signs happen, a person may find that their blood sugar level is below 70 mg/dl if they check it.
Action to take
If the signs show up all of a sudden, the person should eat a high-carb snack like
a glucose tablet
a sweet juice
a sugar lump
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says the following should be done:
Eat 15 grams (g) of carbs and wait 15 minutes before checking your blood sugar.
It you’re still below 70 mg/dl, eat another 15 g of carbs, wait, and then test again.
If your blood sugar is over 70 mg/dl, you should eat something.
Seek medical help for any underlying problem if symptoms don’t go away.
Someone with the person should put a small amount of honey or another sweet syrup in their mouth and keep an eye on their condition if they are awake but can’t eat.
Anyone nearby should call 911 and ask for emergency medical help if they pass out.
Sometimes blood sugar levels get too high because insulin is not present or the body is not responding to the insulin that is present. This is called hyperglycemia.
This could happen if a person with diabetes doesn’t get help.
Early warning signs
The person may notice:
the need to urinate more frequently
Tests will show high levels of sugar in the blood and urine.
Things to do
In minor cases, these are some ways to fix the problem:
changing the dose of insulin or other medication
But having very high blood sugar can cause problems that can be life-threatening, like diabetic ketoacidosis or hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome.
People should see a doctor right away if their symptoms get worse, if they have trouble breathing, if their mouth is very dry, or if they smell like fruit on their breath.
When the body doesn’t have enough insulin, glucose can’t get into cells correctly, which leads to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Since there isn’t enough glucose for the cells to use as power, the body breaks down fat.
When this happens, the body makes chemicals called ketones. Ketones that are too high in the body are harmful because they can make the blood more acidic.
Some things that could lead to DKA are:
low insulin levels, either because the person isn’t taking insulin or because something else is stopping the insulin from working right; not eating enough; having an insulin response;
DKA can happen to people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The warning signs include:
feeling thirsty or having a dry mouth
dry or flushed skin
nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
a fruity smell on the breath
What to do
If you have these signs, you should see a doctor right away because DKA can quickly become a medical emergency.
Online, people can buy tools to check their blood sugar and ketones.
Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says that hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome (HHS) happens when blood sugar levels get too high and are not safe, generally above 600 mg/dl.
This can happen with or without DKA and put your life in danger.
The AAFP says that the following things may raise the risk:
There were infections like asthma, a urinary tract infection, and sepsis.
taking some medicines, like some mental drugs and diuretics, which can make you lose water while you’re not being treated for diabetes
never being told they have diabetes abusing drugs having another health problem like a heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism (lung clot)
Warning signs early on
Early warning signs
Some symptoms are:
a dry mouth
a weak and rapid pulse
a low-grade fever (in adults)
a headache, nausea, and vomiting (in children)
a loss of consciousness
temporary partial paralysis
The person’s blood sugar level may be above 600 mg/dl if tests are done.
Action to take
These signs mean that someone or something needs to see a doctor right away.
The person will need to be treated in the hospital. This will include giving them water, insulin, and any other treatment that is needed for a deeper problem.
Scientists have found that the things that happen in people with diabetes can also have an effect on their immune systems.
These are some common illnesses that can happen to people with diabetes:
infections of the skin that can turn into sores, infections of the urinary tract that can spread to the kidneys, and infections of the ears.
infections of the lungs, like pneumonia and influenza
viruses in the GI tract and liver
Small infections can get into deeper tissue and cause sepsis and other problems that could be life-threatening.
Some things that raise the risk are:
recently getting sick or hurt; an open wound; or being exposed to germs like bacteria, viruses, or fungi
People with diabetes that isn’t well controlled or who have other problems should be careful to:
To avoid getting infections, do what the doctor tells you to do, like getting any shots he or she suggests and checking the skin, especially the feet, for cuts.
getting help right away for any wounds or infections
Warning signs and action
When someone has a fever, pain, or swelling in any part of their body, they should see a doctor.
When a person has diabetes, an illness can quickly get worse.
It’s not always possible to stop an emergency, but knowing how to spot the signs can help you get treatment quickly and get better.
Some things that can be done to lower the risk of an emergency are:
Following the treatment plan means taking your medicines as your doctor tells you to and staying in touch with your healthcare team. If someone can’t remember if they took their last drug dose or not, they should talk to their doctor before taking another dose. This might help keep you from getting hypoglycemia. Getting a doctor is important for anyone whose symptoms change.
Eating regular, healthy meals: People who take insulin or other drugs that lower blood sugar should talk to their doctor about what foods to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat them so that their blood sugar levels stay normal. Fewer, bigger meals are worse than many, smaller ones.
Cutting back on sugary and alcoholic drinks is a good idea because they contain carbs that can raise blood sugar and make people fat. Drinking alcohol can also make you more likely to get other health problems.
Getting rid of infections as soon as possible: Diabetes can weaken the immune system and organs, which makes it easier for infections to spread. If you treat small problems right away, they won’t get worse.
Planning for an emergency
There is no one medicine or process that can stop a diabetic emergency once it starts, but planning ahead can help you get help faster.
People who have diabetes need to:
People with diabetes should wear a medical ID so that others will know what to do in case of an emergency.
Make sure your cell phone is charged and ready to call 911, and know who to call with questions about diabetes situations.
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