Diabetes Emergencies

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you are at risk of having your blood sugar levels get too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Both conditions can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening complications.

Symptoms of High & Low Blood Sugar

Symptoms of hyperglycemia include:

  • Thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fruity-smelling breath

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Nervousness or irritability
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chills and sweating
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling in the lips, cheeks, or tongue
  • Headaches

Examples of Diabetes Emergencies

Diabetic Shock

This condition, also known as insulin shock, occurs when you have very low glucose levels. Taking too much insulin or not eating regularly can trigger diabetic shock.

Diabetic Hyperosmolar Syndrome

This is a complication of very high glucose levels. It occurs when your body tries to eliminate excess sugar through frequent urination, which can lead to severe dehydration after several days or weeks.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

High glucose levels can trigger the body to break down fat for fuel instead of sugar. This produces a large number of ketones, a waste product that makes the blood dangerously acidic. DKA is a complication of type 1 diabetes. It’s rare in people with type 2 diabetes.

Diabetic Coma

All of the above diabetes emergencies can cause you to pass out. If you go into a diabetic coma, medical assistance is required to help you regain consciousness.

How to Lower Blood Sugar Fast

If you become hyperglycemic, here’s how to get your glucose levels down:

  • Administer fast-acting insulin as recommended by your doctor.
  • Exercise to increase your body’s ability to burn glucose.
  • Drink water to help your kidneys flush out excess sugar.

Diabetes Emergency Kit

If you or a family member has diabetes, it’s wise to keep an emergency kit on hand. Here’s what to stock up on for emergencies:

  • Extra medication (pills, insulin, and syringes)
  • A cold travel pack to store medicine that normally goes in the fridge
  • Blood sugar testing supplies
  • Insulin pump equipment
  • A document explaining your diagnosis and what diabetes emergency treatment to administer if you are unconscious
  • Diabetes emergency food in case your blood sugar drops, including juice boxes, regular soda, dried fruit, honey, and glucose tablets
  • Low glycemic index food so you always have a snack available, including peanut butter, whole-wheat bread, cheese crackers, and low-sugar protein bars.

Diabetes Emergency Care in Texas

If you are experiencing complications from diabetes, visit the nearest hospital emergency room. Exceptional Emergency Center is a freestanding emergency clinic offering diabetes treatment in Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, Ft. Worth, Harlingen, Livingston, Lubbock, Port Arthur, Saches/Garland, Orange, and Tyler, TX. We invite you to check in online before leaving home for a shorter wait time upon arrival.

Have any questions or concerns? Want to inquire about our ER services? Contact us today for more information.