Dangerously high blood sugar

Diabetics are at risk of developing dangerously high blood sugar. Some of the common causes include; excess sugar consumption, illness, improper use of insulin, lack of medication, and dehydration. When this occurs it is considered a medical emergency and immediate medical attention is needed.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis and Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Syndrome are two common conditions associated with dangerously high blood sugar.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

A potentially life-threatening condition that results from a lack of insulin and elevated blood glucose. Since glucose is not being used for energy the body begins to break down fats which lead to ketoacidosis. In addition, the excess glucose is excreted in the urine, taking water with it, which leads to dehydration.

Causes: lack of insulin, illness, dehydration.

Symptoms: polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, fruity breath, abdominal pain, rapid breathing, decreased level of consciousness, hot flushed skin. Plasma glucose > 250 and positive for ketones in the urine

Treatment: goal is to hydrate the patient and reduce blood glucose

Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Syndrome

A dangerous condition caused by extremely high blood sugar that leads to severe dehydration as the kidneys attempt to excrete the excess glucose in the urine. Dehydration results in an increase electrolytes in the blood that pulls the fluid in other vital organs into the bloodstream, which can lead to many complications including coma and death.

Causes: undiagnosed diabetes, illness, untreated hyperglycemia, prolonged IV nutrition without insulin.

Symptoms: severe dehydration, neurological manifestations, plasma glucose >600Ketones absent or slightly elevated serum osmolality >320

Treatment: hydrate then bring down blood sugar

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