Diabetic Emergencies | Overview

Diabetic Emergencies

Diabetes: a chronic disease of the endocrine system caused by a decrease in the secretion or activity of insulin. Diabetics don’t make enough insulin to regulate the blood sugar level – it goes too high or too low. When it is too low, the cells start to starve. Counter Regulatory Hormones: glucagons and epinephrine raise the blood sugar – opposite of insulin
D50 – Medication used to treat hypoglycemia, contains 25 grams of glucose in 50 mL of water. D10 also commonly used.

Diabetic Keto Acidosis (DKA): metabolic condition consisting of hyperglycemia dehydration and accumulation of ketones and ketoacids.

Blood Glucose Level: testing blood sugar on a glucometer with a drop of blood from the finger. Approx. 70-100 is normal.

Glucose: main nutrient for all cells, transported in the blood (blood sugar).

Hyperglycemia: elevation of blood sugar level above normal, most common cause is diabetes

Hyperglycemic Hypersmolar Nonketotic Coma (HHNC): blood sugar is elevated but no acidosis is present.
Dehydration and lowered level of consciousness

Hypoglycemia: abnormally low blood sugar level, sometime called insulin shock

Insulin: released from the pancreas and together with epinephrine and glucagons, regulated the blood sugar level. Insulin stimulates the production of glucose transport proteins to facilitate the passage of glucose into the cells to be broken down into energy (*Facilitated Diffusion*). Insulin also prevents the breakdown of fatty tissue in the body.

Ketoacids/Ketones: formed when the body metabolizes fats/fatty tissue
Kussmaul Respirations: rapid, deep sighing breaths that help a diabetic blow off excess CO2, and lower the levels of acid >>>ketoacidosis

Type 1 Diabetes: require insulin injections to live, usually onset at a younger age
Type 2 Diabetes: non-insulin dependent, onset usually after teenage years, less prone to DKA, most can maintain blood sugar levels with diet.

Complications of Diabetes

  • Eye Disease: diabetic retinopathy causes bleeding in the vitreous humor
  • Kidney disease: diabetic nephropathy>>>abnormal function >>> complete renal failure Nerve disease: chronic pain and decreased sensation, especially in the lower extremities
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease: increased risk and at a younger age


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