Diabetic Emergency: How to Save Someone’s Life

By November 14, 2018Health Basics, Safety

Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Diabetes Association,  2015 alone, nearly 79,535 people died from diabetes. The symptoms of diabetes can quickly turn into a diabetic emergency. Therefore, it’s important to how to save someone’s life by following the simple steps below.


diabetic patient checking blood pressure doctor nurseHyperglycemia – Blood sugar level is too high

Signs & Symptoms in a diabetic emergency:

  • increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach pain
  • Fruity breath odor
  • A very dry mouth
  • A rapid heartbeat

Hypoglycemia – Blood sugar level is too low

Signs & Symptoms during a diabetic emergency:

  • Shakiness or nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Confusion

Very extreme cases can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures and coma.

What to Do if Someone is Having a Diabetic Emergency

It’s important to assess the situation because a diabetic emergency can be caused by two very different reasons. If the person is unconscious or unresponsive, always call 9-1-1 first. However, if the person is responsive, you can help them to test their blood sugar. This will help determine the right kind of help to offer. Low blood sugar is generally considered anything less than 80 mg/dl. A high blood sugar varies, but if the glucose meter says 250 mg/dl or above, it is considered high.

High Blood Sugar Reaction

If a diabetic is having a high blood sugar reaction, do NOT give the person any food because it could worsen the situation. More importantly, get them to an Emergency Room near you, as quickly as possible. They will be given the proper medical treatment to safely lower their blood sugar.

Low Blood Sugar Reaction

If someone is having a low blood sugar reaction, give them fast-acting carbohydrates to eat or drink. This could be juice, fruits, or soda. (Many times, diabetics will carry such food with them in case of a diabetic emergency.) Wait with the person and have them continue to test their blood sugar every 10 minutes.

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About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is a freestanding Emergency Room that provides excellent 24 hour care. We are located in South Austin, Pflugerville and Dripping Springs.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions you may have regarding a medical condition.  Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have viewed or read on the internet.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room immediately.  Reliance on any information provided by Five Star ER, its staff, or any others appearing in the blog is solely at your own risk.


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