Diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which is characterized by the inability of the body to produce or use insulin properly. As a consequence, the level of glucose/sugar in the blood increases, leading to serious health issues including vision loss, kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke.
According to the World Health Organization, about 422 million people are affected by diabetes worldwide, and it is predicted to be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. However, the onset or consequences of diabetes can be prevented or at least delayed by controlling body weight, ensuring regular physical activity, having a healthy diet without excessive carbohydrate intake, not smoking, and routine blood sugar monitoring.
Once it develops, complications may be prevented or mitigated by medical treatment in addition to the above measures.
An acute or abrupt increase or drop in the insulin level is often the trigger for an emergency situation in a patient with diabetes, and this can be life-threatening if not controlled immediately. Too high a level of insulin causes a significant lowering of the blood glucose level, a condition termed hypoglycemia, which may rapidly result in insulin shock. In contrast, an extremely low level of insulin causes a sharp increase in the blood sugar level, a condition termed hyperglycemia, which may ultimately lead to a diabetic coma.
To effectively control the situations arising from diabetic emergencies, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms associated with too high or too low blood glucose levels.
The general consequences of Hypoglycemia include:
The general consequences of hyperglycemia include:
This is another serious complication in which the patient has very high blood glucose levels but not enough insulin to use the sugar for energy, resulting in the breakdown of lipids in the body and resulting accumulation of ketoacids from fat molecule metabolism.
The general consequences of diabetic ketoacidosis include:
In such a situation emergency medical help should be availed of to prevent death.
In all these conditions, the immediate care depends primarily on the state of consciousness and the vital parameters, such as body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Depending on the severity of situation, measures to be considered include: