If you have diabetes, you should wear or carry I.D. information (such as
an alert bracelet) that emergency medical staff can find. You should always
carry a sugar source, such as glucose tablets or raisins.
Check for ketones using a simple urine test available at pharmacies. Perform
this test every 4-6 hours if blood sugar goes above 240, or any time you are
sick, unusually thirsty, have a dry mouth, urinating frequently, or have vomited.
Warning signs that ketoacidosis is getting serious:
- Flushed face
- Dry skin and mouth
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Deep, rapid breathing
- Fruity breath odor
If these symptoms occur, call the doctor or
go to the emergency room right away. If left untreated, this condition
will lead to coma and even death.
Dangerously low blood sugar (Severe
Low blood sugar can occur when you use too much insulin, exercise too hard
or for too long, or have not eaten enough food. It can develop quickly. Symptoms
of low blood sugar typically appear when the sugar level falls below 70. Watch
You MUST be monitored closely. If symptoms
become worse — confusion, seizures, or unconsciousness — you
should be given a shot of glucagon. If you don't have glucagon, call
If you have a blood sugar test kit available, do a blood sugar check. If the
level is low, eat something with sugar: fruit juice, several teaspoons of sugar,
a cup of skim milk, or regular soda. If you don't have a test kit handy, sugar
should be eaten anyway — it can't hurt. Symptoms should subside within
15 minutes. If the symptoms don't subside, eat more sugar and test your sugar
level again. (See Step 9: Treat Low Blood Sugar.)
AFTER the symptoms subside, more substantial food can be eaten. Use simple
sugar FIRST to get the situation under control. Real food won't produce enough
sugar and takes too long to digest.
Your doctor may want you to have a glucagon kit for emergencies. Consult your
doctor about who should learn how to inject glucagon in the event that you
have a severe hypoglycemic reaction. If you have glucagon stored at home for
emergencies, your doctor may want everyone in your home to know how to use
it. Periodically remind everyone how to use it, and check the expiration date.
Glucagon works very fast — usually within 15 minutes.
Review Date: 5/1/2006
Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Department of Pediatrics, Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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