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First Aid Basics: “Dealing with a diabetic emergency”

July 18, 2012

Diabetes is a medical condition that affects blood sugar levels. Normally, peoples bodies maintain the ideal blood sugar levels naturally. However when a person is diabetic, their body can no longer maintain that balance- and they need to manage this manually through tablets or insulin injections.

There may be an occasion (or many) in which a diabetic person experiences a Diabetic Emergency. This is either when the person’s blood sugar levels become too low or too high. If left untreated, a diabetic emergency can actually result in a coma or death.

Common symptoms (for both too high or too low sugar levels) can be:

  • intense hunger;
  • convulsions;
  • clammy skin;
  • profuse sweating;
  • drowsiness or confusion;
  • weakness or feeling faint;
  • sudden loss of consciousness.

Keep in mind that the person experiencing this should be able to tell you that they are diabetic (unless it is the first time). They may be holding a bracelet or card, which contains this information, or they may in fact have an insulin injection with them.


What do I do:

  •  Give them something containing sugar (A drink, a sweet, a glucose tablet). This will raise their sugar levels and improve bodily function.

                 (Please remember that artificial sugar contained in diet products is not sugar and therefore will not help that stabilization            process)

  • Call an Emergency Medical helpline if their condition does not improve; they have trouble breathing; or become unconscious.    


Keep in mind that even if it is actually a high level of blood sugar (hyperglacemia), which may cause you to worry that there is too much sugar in their body, the real problem is not the sugar, but the lack of insulin. Additional sugar at this point will not do significant harm.


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