What to Do if Someone Goes into Diabetic Shock

Extreme hypoglycemia, with sugar levels under 70 mg/dl, is referred to as diabetic shock. It is a medical emergency. Persons with diabetes should be aware of the symptoms and should educate those around them on what to do in the event they are unable to act on their own behalf.

How Does It Happen?

Hypoglycemia is defined as having too little glucose in the blood. Glucose is critical to the functioning of our cells, supplying energy for their processes. Hypoglycemia is the result of an imbalance between insulin levels (insulin facilitates the entry of glucose into the cells) and glucose levels. Whether as the result of medication, diet, exercise, stress or illness, the body is not reacting as expected.

Too little glucose can cause symptoms ranging from sweating, dizziness, shakiness, rapid heartbeat and hunger in mild cases to aggression, mental confusion, unconsciousness, seizures and coma in extreme cases.

What to Do

When early symptoms of hypoglycemia appear, it is wise for the diabetic to take a blood sugar reading. Prompt attention to this can prevent an emergency situation. Remedies could include consuming glucose tablets or glucose gel, which are over-the-counter products available in drug stores. Other options include an 8-ounce glass of milk, 4 ounces of fruit juice or non-diet soda, a handful of raisins, or a tablespoon of sugar or honey.

After ingesting the remedy, wait 15 minutes and check sugar levels again. If still low, repeat the treatment.

In the event that mental confusion, seizure or unconsciousness has occurred, those around the diabetic will need to act. The patient should receive immediate medical attention. Revival of those suffering from hypoglycemic shock can be complex and requires the direction of experienced medical professionals to avoid complications.

While awaiting an ambulance, attempts to revive the patient should be limited to applying a small amount of honey or sugar to the gums or introducing some glucagon gel to the inside of the cheek. If the patient is semi-conscious or unconscious, do not attempt to have the patient ingest solid foods or liquids in order to avoid the risk of choking. Injections of glucagon, available in emergency kits, should only be attempted by those who have been trained in their use.

While awaiting emergency personnel, remain with the patient to make sure he or she is safe and comfortable. Be prepared to tell the emergency staff what steps were taken to revive the patient and when they were taken.

Prior planning, making sure those who are in daily contact with the person with diabetes are trained in what to do in the event of an emergency, and attention to changes in glucose levels can keep the diabetic safe.

Sources: National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, Mayo Clinic
Photo: Pexels

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