Diabetic Emergencies | Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia: occurs as a result of an imbalance in the amounts of insulin and glucose. Most commonly caused by a patient taking insulin and then not eating enough food.

Causes include:

  • Medications
  • Excessive exercise
  • Alcohol
  • Poor diet
  • Hypothermia
  • Liver disease

Assessment: hypoglycemia develops rapidly, over a few minutes to a few hours. Counter Regulatory hormones are secreted causing early warning signs:

  • Shakiness
  • Weakness
  • Diaphoresis
  • Rapid pulse and respirations
  • Severe hypoglycemia
  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Slurred speech
  • Neurological deficit
  • Seizure

HYPOTENSION is NOT a sign of hypoglycemia. Look for another cause.

Emergency Care:

  • Control the airway
  • Give O2 via nasal cannula at ¾ L/min
  • Monitor the ECG
  • Start an IV and draw a blood sample (follow local protocols a BGL sample may be all that is required)
  • Local protocols may allow D50 or D10, dextrose intravenously
  • Always assume hypoglycemia and give sugar.
  • Provide psychological support

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