Work Place health check with Tawanda Munyoro Diabetic Emergencies

Diabetes is a condition in which insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps the body use the energy in food, is either lacking or ineffective. The function of insulin is to take sugar from the blood and carry it into the cells to be used. When excess sugar remains in the blood, the body cells must rely on fat as fuel. Blood sugar is a major body fuel, and when it cannot be used, it builds up in the blood and overflows into the urine and passes out of the body unused – the body

T Munyoro
T Munyoro

There are two types of diabetes:

Type I: juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes. Type I diabetics require external (not made by the body) insulin to allow sugar to pass from the blood into cells. When deprived of external insulin, the diabetic becomes quite ill.

Type II: adult-onset or non-insulin dependent diabetes. Type II diabetics tend to be overweight. They are not dependent on external insulin to allow sugar into cells. However, if their insulin level is low, the lack of sugar in the cells increases sugar production and sugar in the blood to very high levels. That causes glucose to spill into the urine, which draws fluid with it, resulting in dehydration.

The body is continuously balancing sugar and insulin. Too much insulin and not enough sugar leads to low blood sugar, possibly insulin shock. Too much sugar and not enough insulin leads to high blood sugar, possibly diabetic coma.

Low Blood Sugar

Very low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, is sometimes referred to as an “insulin reaction.” This condition can be caused by too much insulin, too little or delayed food, exercise, alcohol, or any combination of these factors.

Signs & Symptoms

sudden onset

staggering, poor coordination

anger, bad temper

pale colour

confusion, disorientation

sudden hunger

excessive sweating


eventual unconsciousness


Give sugar if all are present:

The victim is a known diabetic, and

The victim’s mental status is altered, and

The victim is awake enough to swallow.

Give victim sugar-containing food, such as a soft drink, sweets, milk, or fruit juice. Do not use diet drinks – they do not contain sugar.

If improvement is not seen in 15 minutes, take the person to a hospital.

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