A 47-year-old employee of a multinational company in the city suddenly started gasping for breath around 7am before collapsing earlier this month. A diabetic for the last eight years, he was rushed to the closest hospital where doctors found he was suffering from diabetic coma a result of either extremely high (hyperglycemia) or low (hypoglycemia) blood sugar level.
The man’s blood sugar level had reached 600 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL). A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL is normal.
Due to the coma, he was also experiencing an acute respiratory failure, a condition in which fluid leaks into the lungs, making breathing difficult or impossible.
He was minutes away from a complete respiratory arrest, his doctor said, adding that a delay in treatment could have been dangerous and fatal.
According to experts, diabetic coma is usually a result of poorly managed diabetes, especially Type 1 diabetes, and symptoms include fatigue, weakness, shortage of breath, nausea, difficulty speaking and sweating. Lapsing into a diabetic coma means the patient is alive but can’t awaken or respond to stimulation.
“The man had stopped taking his insulin which would have caused the hyperglycemia, ultimately resulting in a coma,” said endocrinologist Dr Abhay Ahluwalia, who treated him at Columbia Asia Hospital in Palam Vihar.
He added that it took restoring the fluids by giving a controlled quantity to treat the patient who got out of the coma in four days.
However, doctors said one may be able to prevent complications like these by watching the amount and types of food one eats, exercising and taking the necessary medications.
According to doctors, elderly people are most likely to develop hyperglycemia. However, it can also happen when a diabetic person is sick.
“When the blood glucose level starts to climb, the body tries to get rid of all the excess glucose through frequent urination. That dehydrates the body. Adequate fluid is required,” said Dr Ahulwalia, adding that keeping your blood sugar level in a healthy range can avoid eye, kidney and nerve diseases.