Diabetic coma

Common Name(s)

Diabetic coma

A diabetic coma is a serious complication of diabetes resulting in a state of unconsciousness. The individual can be unresponsive to touch, sounds, or even pain. Diabetic comas can be caused by either extremely high or extremely low blood sugar levels.

The major causes of a diabetic coma include diabetic ketoacidosis, diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome, and hypoglycemia. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body lacks enough insulin to allow sugar in the blood to be absorbed for energy. This condition causes the body to use fat for energy instead of sugar and causes toxins, called ketones, to build up as a result. Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome, which occurs when the blood sugar gets very high to the point that blood thickens, causes the individual to urinate more, and eventually leads to severe dehydration and even higher blood sugar levels. Diabetic coma can also result from developing hypoglycemia, a condition of extremely low blood sugar.

Common symptoms of very high blood sugar include thirst, frequent urination, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fruity breath odor, and rapid heartbeat. Symptoms of very low blood sugar include shakiness, fatigue, anxiety, sweating, hunger, nausea, dizziness, difficulty speaking or confusion. Risk factors for a diabetic coma include poorly managed diabetes, illnesses such as an infection, increasing age, and alcohol consumption.

A diabetic coma is a medical emergency. Left untreated, it can be fatal. Treatment depends on the cause of the coma and focuses on correcting the imbalances of the body. Effective management of diabetes can prevent progression to diabetic coma as well as many other complications. If a family member is in a diabetic coma, talk with their doctor and specialists about the most current treatment options. Reaching out for support to those in your family or friend network, a support group or through hospital social workers may help you during this stressful time.

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Advocacy and Support Organizations

 

Condition Specific Organizations

Following organizations serve the condition "Diabetic coma" for support, advocacy or research.

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General Support Organizations

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Scientific Literature

Articles from the PubMed Database

Research articles describe the outcome of a single study. They are the published results of original research.
The terms "Diabetic coma" returned 41 free, full-text research articles on human participants. First 3 results:

Acidosis, phosphofructokinase, and diabetic coma.
 

Author(s): V Rosival

Journal: Br J Anaesth. 2009 Feb;102(2):279; author reply 279-80.

 

Last Updated: 31 Dec 1969

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[A case of inaugural hyperosmolar diabetic coma].
 

Author(s): B Lepilleur, F Gouja

Journal: Ann. Biol. Clin. (Paris). ;57(6):710-2.

 

Last Updated: 31 Dec 1969

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[Malignant syndrome associated with disseminated intravascular coagulation and a high level of amylase in serum, followed by diabetic coma in an elderly patient with Parkinson's disease during L-dopa therapy].
 

Author(s): H Saeki, S Muneta, T Kobayashi

Journal: Nihon Ronen Igakkai Zasshi. 1998 Feb;35(2):139-44.

 

A 66-year-old woman with a 7-year history of Parkinsons' disease was admitted to our hospital because of a high fever and disturbance of consciousness. She had been treated with levodopa/benserazide hydrochloride and trihexyphenidyl hydrochloride until admission. On admission, the ...

Last Updated: 31 Dec 1969

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Reviews from the PubMed Database

Review articles summarize what is currently known about a disease. They discuss research previously published by others.
The terms "Diabetic coma" returned 1 free, full-text review articles on human participants. First 3 results:

[Hypoglycaemic coma, a feared paroxysmal phenomenon in type 1 diabetic patient].
 

Author(s): R P Radermecker, A J Scheen

Journal: Rev Med Liege. 2004 May;59(5):265-9.

 

The hypoglycaemic coma is a severe complication for type 1 diabetic patients. Rarely fatal it may be associated with various paroxysmal accidents, potentially harmful, especially during driving. Hypoglycaemia certainly alters the quality of life because it markedly increases the anxiety ...

Last Updated: 31 Dec 1969

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