Ask the Diabetes Educator Archive

5/3/04

Q:
What is the (average) blood sugar count for a person to go into a diabetic coma?

A:
I'm not sure if "average" is the right word, as I have seen people in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) under 500 and over 800. On the flip side, others with blood sugars over 1000 are not in DKA; this is a condition abbreviated HHNK and generally is seen more in the elderly, particularly when dehydrated. 500-600 may be a more common range if a poll were taken. Those who have adapted to daily high blood sugars over the years may not experience a dramatic shift at 500. It is advised for all insulin-dependent, insulin-requiring people with diabetes to check for ketones when their blood sugars start elevating. This is particularly true when sick or infectious. DKA usually occurs for those who are not managing their diabetes. Correction involves saline/insulin/electrolytes drip. Consistent blood glucose monitoring is a good step towards prevention.



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