Diabetic emergency: What are the indications?

22 November 2017
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22 November 2017, Comments: 0

A diabetic emergency requires prompt medical attention. If an individual is suspected of experiencing one, call for emergency assistance right away.

Diabetes is a becoming a prevalent ailment and can affect both children and adults. There are different forms of diabetes and once diagnosed with one, the doctor will educate the individual and closely monitor to ensure the best and safe care for the condition.


Hypoglycemia is characterized as having dangerously low levels of blood sugar. If an individual is diagnosed with diabetes, this typically arises from using too much insulin or not eating correctly.

The sugar present in the blood is a necessity for the brain and other organs to function optimally. Hypoglycemia should be promptly treated. The indications of this condition generally include:

  • Poor balance


    Hypoglycemia is characterized as having dangerously low levels of blood sugar.

  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Feeling faint
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat

Call for emergency assistance and while waiting, provide sugary beverages such as soda and orange juice. You can also place pure sugar under the tongue and within the mouth.

If the individual loses consciousness, place only a small amount of sugar under the tongue and along the side of the cheeks while rolling him/her onto their side. Closely monitor to ensure that choking will not occur.


Hyperglycemia occurs once the blood sugar level rises too high. The signs are strikingly the same as hypoglycemia and often confused before medical care is provided.

This condition typically takes days to develop. In most cases, the individual experiences:

  • Warm and dry skin
  • Frequent urination
  • Confusion
  • Uncontrollable thirst
  • Fainting

An individual with diabetes might also experience shaking and feel faint.


This condition is brought about by the elevated levels of ketones in the body. Once the body utilizes the stored fats for energy, ketones are the by-products.

This is likely to occur if not eating properly, using excess insulin or if the body is highly resistant to insulin. The body could not utilize the blood sugar for energy and use the body fats instead.

Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome

This syndrome generally arises after an individual with diabetes has experienced and recovered from infection or under unusual stress levels.

It is important to note that stress and infections can cause the blood sugar levels to escalate to high levels. As an outcome, the body attempts to eliminate the excess sugar. The body performs this by generating large amounts of urine.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a diabetic emergency is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications, register for a first aid and CPR course with Toronto First Aid.

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