Mar 19, 2015

Insulin Shock Vs. Diabetic Coma

Diabetes is a life-threatening disease that affects lots of people annually. A diabetic is susceptible to many complications, like abnormal changes in the blood pressure, strokes, heart and vision problems, etc. Hypoglycemia or insulin shock as it is sometimes referred, and diabetic coma are also common diabetes complications. In this article we are going to discuss both diabetic coma and insulin shock in detail to clearly understand the difference between them.

Insulin Shock
Insulin shock is also called hypoglycemia, and it is usually seen in diabetic patients. Basically, extreme low levels of sugar in the blood causes an insulin shock. For the body to function in the right way, a normal sugar level should be maintained. Fluctuations in the blood sugar level causes many complications. The sugar level should not go too high or too low. The pancreas secrete a hormone called insulin, that maintains the levels of glucose or sugar in the blood. Insulin then stimulates the cells to supply glucose in the blood to various organs in the body. In hypoglycemia too much insulin is secreted by the pancreas, and this leads to lowered blood sugar level (a blood sugar level below 70mg/dL is considered low). Hypoglycemia can also occur if you are taking excess diabetes medications or are eating food that is low on carbohydrates.

The common symptoms are abnormal increase in the heartbeat rate, weakness, uneasiness and discomfort, vision problems like blurry vision, headache, feeling of extreme hunger, facing trouble while sleeping, tingling in hands and feet, and fainting. Extreme case of hypoglycemia that causes seizures, hallucinations, and coma is referred as an insulin shock. Severe hypoglycemia is a medical emergency, and should be treated immediately as it can cause permanent damage to the nervous system. Treating the person with glucose injections is one of the ways to treat it.

Diabetic Coma
Diabetic coma can be considered a complication of hypoglycemia or insulin shock. But it can also occur when the level of the sugar in the blood is too high. In a diabetic coma the person goes unconscious, and stops responding to the stimuli around him. It is a medical emergency, and can prove fatal in case it is left untreated. Extreme fluctuations in the blood sugar level (either too high or too low) is the chief reason for a diabetic coma. Other causes are diabetic ketoacidosis (that is muscle cells do not get enough energy), and Diabetic hyperosmolar syndrome (that is the blood sugar levels cross as high as 600 mg/dL). People with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) are at a risk of diabetes coma. High consumption of alcohol, skipping insulin injections, certain injuries and trauma, and drug abuse are also the risk factors.

The symptoms differ according to the cause. If it is high blood sugar, the symptoms are increase in thirst, frequent urination, and fatigue. If the cause is low blood sugar, the symptoms are feeling of tiredness, profuse sweating, unexplained hunger, and confusion. The treatment depends on its cause, that is high blood sugar or low blood sugar. If the cause is high blood sugar, injections of insulin and certain diet changes may help. In case of low blood sugar, glucose injections may prove to be useful.


In a gist, both diabetic coma and insulin shock are diabetes complications. Insulin shock has diabetic coma as one of its complications. If low blood sugar level is the cause for diabetic coma, the symptoms of both, diabetic coma and insulin shock are the same. To prevent both these complications, strictly following the diet and doctor's advice is necessary. Diabetes is a disease, which if is not properly cared for can turn fatal. Strictly following doctor's advice and doing a good level of exercise helps.

Hope this article was helpful in understanding all about diabetic coma as compared to insulin shock. As said earlier, to prevent both these conditions a good diet and lifestyle has to be maintained. Stay safe.


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