What Is a Hypoglycemic Coma?

Mental confusion can be a warning sign of a hypoglycemic coma.
A blood sugar level that drops below 50 may cause a hypoglycemic coma.
A hypoglycemic coma is a type of diabetic coma occurring when glucose levels in the blood or blood sugar drop well below accepted norms.
A person in a hypoglycemic coma at a hospital will be given an intravenous form of glucagon.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2014
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A hypoglycemic coma is a type of diabetic coma occurring when glucose levels in the blood or blood sugar drop well below accepted norms. This condition may also occur in people who have routinely low blood sugar conditions. Any coma is a serious health risk and the hypoglycemic coma needs prompt treatment to be certain that brain damage doesn’t result. Prompt treatment means emergency medical care, under the majority of circumstances.

In the hypoglycemic coma people will not respond to outside stimuli. This doesn’t mean they’re necessarily silent or without movement, but this shouldn’t be assumed as signs of consciousness. In response to the low glucose levels, the body is shutting down and in part it does this by beginning to destroy neurons in the brain. Continued destruction could cause memory or function loss.

The main cause of hypoglycemic coma is sharp reduction in blood glucose levels. There are a number of ways this can occur. Inadequate diet with skipping meals might result in dropping blood sugar levels, and people with diabetes are particularly vulnerable to this. Excessive alcohol intake is another precursor for this form of coma. An additional cause is injection of too much insulin, which can quickly drop blood sugar levels.

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It’s not that there aren’t signs leading up to a hypoglycemic coma. Some of the common symptoms include a feeling of nervousness or shakiness. People might feel hungry, but ignore these feelings. Tiredness, mental confusion, excess perspiration and changes in mood trending toward irritation or anger could be noted too. For those at risk for this complication, it’s especially important to check blood glucose levels at this time, and adjust medications as needed to restore blood sugar to acceptable amounts.

Many people feel some of these symptoms right after injecting insulin. Verifying blood sugar amounts is vital. People can correct early expression of hypoglycemia before hypoglycemic coma occurs by using glucose candies or things like juice to restore the body’s sugar levels.

If the condition progresses to hypoglycemic coma, this is medically urgent. People should be taken to the hospital or emergency services should be called. It’s advised people follow protocol suggested by their physicians. In hospitals, the person in a coma will receive an injected or intravenous form of hormonal medicine called glucagon. This can help restore blood sugar levels quickly.

While glucagon can be effective, it’s far better to prevent hypoglycemic coma, than to undergo it and risk potential brain damage. Careful attention to blood sugar levels, healthy diet, and minimal or no alcohol fights half this battle. The other half is being aware of symptoms that indicate lowering blood sugar levels. People should know what these are and be attentive to body reaction, learning to understand signs of low blood sugar and taking appropriate steps when it is noted.

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anon285536
Post 3

Roach, try to start your day off with protein. I can't explain why, but it definitely helps me to start the day with a couple of eggs, and maybe some turkey bacon. Try to eat a balanced diet throughout the day, but eat every few hours.

anon193471
Post 2

Eat something sweet. Candies or something.

Roach2468
Post 1

Please somebody help me. I don't know what to do. I have low blood sugar. Please, help me! Do I need to go to a doctor? What if I don't? Will I die? Can someone please be kind enough to answer my questions? I have no one else to talk to about this. Help me.

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