Diabetic emergencies happen when there is an imbalance between the amount of glucose (a type of sugar) and insulin (a hormone that lowers glucose) in the body. Each year, diabetes takes the blame for more than 400,000 trips to the ER.
What can you do to improve your health, lower your costs and avoid emergencies? Keep your diabetes under control. Here's how:
- Make lifestyle changes if needed. Quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, improving your diet, starting an exercise routine, or losing weight can make you feel better in the short and long term.
- Take your medications as instructed and on time. This is a vital step in managing your diabetes.
- Monitor your health regularly. It's especially important to keep track of your blood sugar levels.
- Take action when your symptoms indicate a problem. If your blood sugar is low, take the corrective steps your doctor has advised.
People with diabetes are at risk for life-threatening ketoacidosis (DKA), a condition that can develop when you have too little insulin in your body. When the body can't use glucose normally, it uses fat instead. When fats are broken down for energy, chemicals called ketones appear in the blood and urine. Dangerously high levels of ketones can lead to coma or even death.
Here's how to spot the warning signs:
You can check your ketone level at home with a simple urine test. Ask your doctor about it. You might be instructed to test for ketones if your blood glucose level rises above 300 mg/dl, or if you develop symptoms of ketoacidosis. Early symptoms include:
- Dry mouth
- Frequent urination
As ketoacidosis gets worse, other symptoms may start to appear:
- Constant fatigue
- Flushed or dry skin
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain
- Confusion or foggy thinking
If you develop these symptoms, call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room. Prompt action is very important to avoid serious problems and get diabetes back under control.
Source: Krames Staywell.
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