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Diabetic Reaction

Facts on Diabetic Reactions

Patient Comments
  • There are two main forms of diabetes:
    • Type 1 diabetes: Absent or low insulin levels prevent cells from taking up and using sugar for energy, thus requiring insulin injections
    • Type 2 diabetes: Cellular resistance to insulin reduces glucose uptake, often requiring medication to improve the sensitivity of cells to insulin
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is the most common form of diabetic reaction. A low blood sugar reaction is caused by increased exertion or increased demand for glucose. The body may "run out" of stored glucose more quickly, thus bringing on a hypoglycemic attack. Persistent intake of excessive alcohol may cause this reaction, because alcohol decreases glucose stores in the liver.
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is a common problem for people with diabetes. High blood sugar can be brought on by infections or other significant stresses that cause the body to decrease cell uptake of glucose. A decrease in cell uptake of glucose leads to high blood sugar levels as well as the alternative use of fats by starving cells for energy. Fat breakdown increases the acidity of the blood and worsens symptoms of high blood sugar.

What are the symptoms of a diabetic reactions?

Symptoms of diabetic reaction depends on the type of reaction.

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia) Symptoms

  • rapid onset of cool, pale, moist, and clammy skin;
  • dizziness;
  • headache;
  • rapid pulse; and
  • shallow breathing.

If untreated, symptoms may progress to confusion, nonsensical behavior, coma, and death.

High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia) Symptoms

  • Symptoms occur gradually over several days.
  • The person with high blood sugar develops increasing thirst and urination due to large amounts of unused glucose being lost in the urine.
  • Skin feels warm and dry; respirations may be shallow; pulse is rapid and weak, and breath may have a sweet odor (due to ketoacidosis from fat breakdown).
  • The person with high blood sugar may become confused or comatose, and death may result.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/23/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Diabetic Reaction:

Diabetic Reaction - Experience

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Diabetic Reaction - Symptoms

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Diabetic Reaction - Treatment

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Controlling Your Blood Sugar as a Diabetic

As medical science has advanced, there has become a big push to get tighter and tighter control of blood sugar levels. The highs and lows needed to be smoothed out to get as close to normal physiology as possible. This has become the mantra for diabetic care. Just like an elite athlete who is always training, the person with diabetes always needs to be working to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

This is a relatively new concept. Not so long ago, the hope was that one insulin injection a day would be enough to return those with diabetes to their normal state. Blood sugars were allowed to fluctuate over a wide range, and patients and their doctors were comfortable with the trade-off. Once or twice a day shots didn't affect lifestyle. But just having "OK" control of blood sugar levels wasn't "OK".


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Diabetes Insipidus »

Central diabetes insipidus (DI) is characterized by decreased secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also known as arginine vasopressin (AVP), that results in polyuria and polydipsia by diminishing the patient's ability to concentrate urine.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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