Diabetic Coma: Overview

A diabetic coma can arise in two ways, and both of them are critically serious, requiring immediate emergency medical care. The most common coma results from Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), due to extremely high blood sugar levels and the resulting acidic substances in the blood (called ketones). DKA can arise with undiagnosed diabetes, with poorly-controlled diabetes, or with failure to take diabetes medications properly. DKA can be fatal if left untreated for long.

The second form of diabetic coma can result from a low blood sugar event called a “Diabetic Hypoglycemic Attack” (also known as an “Insulin Reaction” or “Insulin Attack”). If a person’s blood sugar goes so low that the brain’s sugar supply is impacted, a person can faint, become unconscious and then can enter a coma. Fortunately, most diabetics who have a “low” do not go so low that their brain is damaged, because adrenaline kicks in and the liver starts producing glucose. However, this type of hypoglycemic attack (very low blood sugar) can definitely be fatal, with fatality rates of about 0.25% of diabetics (i.e., about 1 in 400 diabetics die in this way).

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.