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Have family members with diabetes? Here's what to do in a diabetic emergency

by , 13 November 2013

It's a good idea to be prepared for an emergency, in case the unexpected occurs. This rule applies when it comes to diabetes as well. Read on to find out what to do in a diabetic emergency…

Being prepared for a diabetic emergency can mean the difference between life and death. This is especially important if you have loved ones with diabetes.

But before we talk about what you need to do in a diabetic emergency, let’s look at what counts as a diabetic emergency.

According to Diabetes.co.uk, an ambulance will be needed if someone has either very high or very low blood sugar levels and neither they nor anyone around is confidently able to treat them.

Here’s what to do in a diabetic emergency

The site explains that hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can become dangerous if it’s not treated quickly, especially if it’s a result of an insulin overdose.

Severe hypoglycemia is generally recognised as hypoglycemia involving:
  • Convulsions (fitting)
  • Unconsciousness

Another symptom of severe hypoglycemia is locking of the jaw, which can make treating hypoglycemia impossible without the aid of a glucagon injection. Glucagon is used to raise very low blood sugar.

In this situation, you can administer glucagon by injection.

When using glucagon, “check it’s in date, and follow the instructions in the glucagon kit carefully. If you’re unsure about using the kit and nobody is present who is, call for an ambulance.” says Diabetes.co.uk.

The website adds, “to prevent hypoglycemia developing into a more serious situation, make sure you have hypo treatments, such as the Hypo Wallet, to hand.

What happens if blood glucose levels become very high?

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a condition that develops when blood glucose levels become very high.

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • A laboured form of breathing known as kussmaul breathing, which may be identified by gasping breaths.

If you suspect diabetic ketoacidosis and the person is either incoherent or you’re unable to help him, call an ambulance.

While the ambulance is coming, ensure the person is able to breathe and try to stay with them in case their situation gets worse. If you can, test their blood sugar to verify whether they have high or low blood glucose levels.

Knowing what to do in a diabetic emergency could help safe your loved one’s life, so make sure you’re prepared.

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