Before developing a diabetic coma, you'll usually experience signs and symptoms of high blood sugar or low blood sugar.
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
If your blood sugar level is too high, you may experience:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain
- Fruity breath odor
- A very dry mouth
- A rapid heartbeat
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Signs and symptoms of a low blood sugar level may include:
- Shakiness or nervousness
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Difficulty speaking
Some people, especially those who've had diabetes for a long time, develop a condition known as hypoglycemia unawareness and won't have the warning signs that signal a drop in blood sugar.
If you experience any symptoms of high or low blood sugar, test your blood sugar and follow your diabetes treatment plan based on the test results. If you don't start to feel better quickly, or you start to feel worse, call for emergency help.
When to see a doctor
A diabetic coma is a medical emergency. If you feel extreme high or low blood sugar signs or symptoms and think you might pass out, call 911 or your local emergency number. If you're with someone with diabetes who has passed out, call for emergency help, and be sure to let the emergency personnel know that the unconscious person has diabetes.
May 22, 2015
- 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.