Diabetic Emergencies When to Get Medical Help
This National Diabetes Month is the right time to learn about the types of diabetic emergencies and warning signs to go to the ER. Prestige ER is proud to join the American Diabetes Association and other organizations in educating our communities on diabetes, its potential complications, and what to do in case of a diabetic emergency.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic illness that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. During digestion, the carbohydrates in the foods we eat are broken down and transformed into glucose.
Glucose or blood sugar helps fuel our cells. Therefore, it is essential to keep the mechanisms of the body working properly.
The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that acts as a key that opens the cells and allows the blood sugar to enter them to be used or stored as energy. When someone has diabetes, it means their body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the cells don’t respond effectively to the insulin.
Types of Diabetes
There are different types of diabetes, including:
Type 1: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks and destroys cells in the pancreas by mistake.
Type 2: This type of diabetes develops over time. It’s usually associated with poor lifestyle choices that result in the cells becoming resistant to insulin. If the insulin produced by the pancreas cannot “open” the cells to let the blood sugar in, then glucose builds up in the bloodstream.
Gestational Diabetes: This occurs in pregnant women who did not have diabetes before getting pregnant. This type of diabetes typically resolves itself after the baby is born. However, it can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Prediabetes: This is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not enough to diagnose type 2 diabetes.
How Common and Serious is Diabetes?
The National Diabetes Statistics Report produced the following key findings:
- 34.2 million Americans have diabetes
- 88 million American adults have prediabetes
- New diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among US youth is on the rise
Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to severe complications that may result in disability or even death.
Possible complications from diabetes include:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Nerve Damage
- Kidney Damage
- Eye Damage
- Skin Conditions
- Hearing Impairment
- Increased Risk of Dementia
Diabetic Emergencies and What to Do
Blood sugar imbalances can lead to complications. While some complications won’t require emergency medical attention, others will; knowing the difference can help save a life.
Hypoglycemia refers to blood sugar levels that are too low. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures and become life-threatening.
The condition can happen when a patient takes too much insulin, misses a meal, does too much exercise, or drinks too much alcohol.
Hypoglycemia is considered a medical emergency.
- Confusion, dizziness, and nausea
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sweating, chills, and pale, clammy skin
- Feeling shaky, nervous, irritable, or anxious
- Feeling hungry
- Weakness and tiredness
- Tingling in the mouth area
- Coma or loss of consciousness
What Should You Do?
If the person loses consciousness or seizures, call 911 and ask to be brought to Prestige ER for treatment.
Hyperglycemia is when blood sugar levels become too high either because not enough insulin is present, or the body fails to respond to it.
- Excessive thirst
- Feel the need to urinate more frequently
- Blurry vision
What Should You Do?
If glucose levels are slightly elevated, the patient can try doing some exercise, eating less. Should sugar levels be mildly elevated for some time, they should speak to their doctor about adjusting their dose of insulin and other diabetes medications.
However, when blood sugar levels become too high, it can lead to life-threatening complications. For this reason, it’s best to come to Prestige ER when blood sugar levels are extremely high.
Diabetic ketoacidosis results from the body not having enough insulin to allow glucose to enter the cells.
Because the cells don’t have enough glucose to use for energy, the body will break down fat for fuel.
When this happens, the body produces ketones to use as energy. The problem is that high levels of ketones raise the blood’s acidity levels and are therefore toxic.
- Dry mouth or feeling thirsty
- Frequent urination
- Dry or flushed skin
- Abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting
- Confusion or difficulty focusing
- Difficulty breathing
- A fruity smell on the breath
What Should You Do?
Should you or a loved one experience any of the above symptoms, please seek immediate medical help. Diabetic ketoacidosis can quickly become a medical emergency.
Diabetes is a serious condition that requires medical supervision. Although there is no cure, the illness is manageable through diet, exercise, and medications.
However, even with proper disease management, emergencies can arise. When they do, Prestige ER is here to help restore balance and save lives.
HealthCare.gov recommends that in case of an emergency, you head straight to the closest ER.
You DO NOT need to get prior approval from your health insurance company.
They will cover expenses barring whatever your deductible and coinsurance/copayments are for emergency treatments.
Prestige ER is open and ready to care for you during an emergency in which your health is significantly jeopardized 24/7, we work with all major insurance companies and our Patient Advocate team is available to help you understand your coverage and rights. We will guide and fight for you every step of the way. For more information regarding your rights as a patient, view our Insurance Information.
Know Where to Go in the Event of an Emergency
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