A diabetic coma is a medical emergency that you won't have time to prepare for. If you feel the symptoms of extreme high or low blood sugar, call 911 or your local emergency number to make sure help is on the way before you pass out.
If you're with someone with diabetes who has passed out or is acting strange, possibly as if he or she has had too much alcohol, call for immediate medical help.
What you can do in the meantime
If you have no training in diabetes care, wait for the emergency care team to arrive.
If you are familiar with diabetes care, follow these steps:
May 22, 2015
- Test the unconscious person's blood sugar.
- If the blood sugar level is lower than 70 mg/dL (3.9 mmol/L), administer an injection of glucagon. If glucagon isn't available, rub glucose gel, honey or non-sugar-free syrup on the inside of the unconscious person's cheek. Do not try to give fluids to drink and do not give insulin to someone with low blood sugar.
- If the blood sugar level is above 70 mg/dL, wait for medical help to arrive. Don't give sugar to someone whose blood sugar isn't low.
- Let the emergency care team know about the diabetes and what steps you've taken, if any.
- Standards of medical care in diabetes — A position statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care. 2015;38(suppl):S1.
- Ketoacidosis (DKA) and ketones. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/ketoacidosis-dka.html. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hyperglycemia.html. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Hypoglycemia. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/hypoglycemia/. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Disadvantages of using an insulin pump. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/insulin/disadvantages-of-using-an.html. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-low-blood.html. Accessed March 31, 2015.
- Continuous glucose monitoring. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/glucosemonitor/. Accessed March 31, 2015.
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