Anyone who has diabetes is at risk of a diabetic coma.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you're more at risk of a diabetic coma caused by:

  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis

If you have type 2 diabetes, you're generally more at risk of a diabetic coma caused by:

  • Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome, especially if you're middle-aged or older

If you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the following factors can increase the risk of a diabetic coma:

  • Insulin delivery problems. If you're on an insulin pump, you have to check your blood sugar frequently. One of the reasons for this is that a kink in the insulin pump tubing may stop all insulin delivery without you being aware of it.

    Even tubeless pumps can sometimes have problems that cause insulin delivery to stop. A lack of insulin can quickly lead to diabetic ketoacidosis if you have type 1 diabetes.

  • An illness, trauma or surgery. When you're sick or injured, blood sugar levels tend to rise, sometimes dramatically. This may cause diabetic ketoacidosis if you have type 1 diabetes and don't increase your insulin dosage to compensate.

    Other medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure or kidney disease, may increase your risk of diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome.

  • Poorly managed diabetes. If you don't monitor your blood sugar properly or take your medications as directed, you'll have a higher risk of developing long-term complications and a diabetic coma.
  • Deliberately skipping insulin. Sometimes, people with diabetes who also have an eating disorder choose not to use their insulin as directed with the hope of losing weight. This is a dangerous, life-threatening practice that increases the risk of a diabetic coma.
  • Drinking alcohol. Alcohol can have unpredictable effects on your blood sugar, sometimes dropping blood sugar levels as late as a day or two after the alcohol was consumed. This can increase your risk of a diabetic coma caused by hypoglycemia.
  • Illegal drug use. Illegal drugs, such as cocaine and Ecstasy, can increase your risk of severe high blood sugar levels, as well as your risk of a diabetic coma.
May 22, 2015