Diabetic Reactions

Insulin is a hormone. It is needed by the body to move sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells. Without sugar, the cells of the body are unable to function and the body begins to die. There are two types of diabetic reactions.

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia or Insulin Shock) 

This occurs when the diabetic patient has too much insulin and not enough sugar in the blood. Sugar is moved from the bloodstream into the cells and used up too quickly.

Signs of Low Blood Sugar include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Pale, moist skin or profuse sweating
  • Apathy, irritability, anxiety, combativeness or behavioral disturbances
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Headache and speech difficulties
  • Shakiness, tremors or convulsions

CARE FOR LOW BLOOD SUGAR:

  1. Have someone immediately call 911.
  2. If the patient is conscious, give orange juice with one to two teaspoons of sugar, soft drinks that contain sugar, corn syrup, sugar cubes, honey, jelly, life savers, gum drops or other candy. If nothing else is available, give simple table sugar.
  3. Continue monitoring the patient until paramedics arrive.
  4. If the patient is unconscious, establish and maintain their airway. NEVER give an unconscious person anything to eat or drink.
  5. Watch for complications such as seizures or convulsions, in which case you should keep the patient from hurting themselves.
  6. Keep the patient away from stairs, furniture or objects they may come in contact with or with which they may injure themselves.

 

High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia)

This occurs when the diabetic patient has too little insulin and too much sugar in the blood. Sugar is not moved from the bloodstream into the cells quickly enough.

Signs of High Blood Sugar include:

  • Sweet, fruity or acetone-like breath
  • Flushed, dry or very warm skin
  • Severe hunger and thirst
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Labored respirations
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Frequent urination
  • Varying degrees of alertness up to and including unconsciousness

CARE FOR HIGH BLOOD SUGAR: 

  1. Have someone immediately call 911.
  2. If the patient is unconscious, closely monitor their breathing. If the patient stops breathing, begin rescue breathing. (The same breaths as in CPR, but without chest compressions)
  3. Position the patient on their side to prevent them from choking in the event they begin to vomit.
  4. Continue until the paramedics arrive.