Approximately 9.4% of the population, or about 30.3 million Americans, has either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year. With proper control, diabetes can be managed and diabetics can live long, healthy lives. But even those in the best control can sometimes require emergency medical care. In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, here are some things you should do if you ever need to offer help to a diabetic in an emergency.
- Know the Signs
Everyone will react differently in a diabetic emergency. Sometimes a diabetic can be having a reaction due to high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. This is when the person’s blood sugar levels are too high due to too little insulin in their body. Symptoms of hypoglycemia can include: extreme thirst or hunger, frequent urination, nausea, fast heart rate, blurred vision and drowsiness. The other cause of an extreme reaction is low blood sugar is hypoglycemia. This is due to there being too much insulin and not enough carbohydrates in the diabetic’s blood stream. Symptoms for low blood sugar include: shaking, sweating, anxiety, dizziness, irritability, weakness, extreme mood changes. Very extreme cases can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures and coma.
- Assess the Situation
Because a diabetic emergency can be caused by two very different reasons, it is important to assess the situation. If the person is unconscious or unresponsive, always call 9-1-1 first. 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. A 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 that is considered high.
- Offer Help
If the person is having a low blood sugar reaction, the best way to help is to provide fast-acting carbohydrates for the person to eat. This can include juice, fruits, or soda. Often the diabetic will be carrying such a food around for instances like this. If they are confused, help them to find this food item or provide one of your own. Wait with the person and have them continue to test their blood sugar every 10 minutes.
If they are having a high blood sugar reaction, do not give the person any food as this may only worsen the condition. The best thing to do is to get the person to an emergency room, like Five Star ER, as soon as possible. There they will receive the diagnostic testing to see if the person is suffering a complication like Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), and provide the right medical treatment to safely lower their blood sugar.
Emergencies happen, and when they do you want the best care FAST. For diabetics who are having severe reactions, just a few minutes can make a huge difference, so trust the board-certified doctors and expert staff at Five Star ER to take care of you with all the care you’d expect from a traditional emergency room with none of the wait.
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About Five Star ER
Five Star ER is owned and operated by the physicians of US Acute Care Solutions, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.
Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes.
This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.