Diabetes, Insulin Overdose, and Other Complications
What to Do During an Insulin Overdose continued...
Don't worry about pushing your sugar too high if it's only for a short time. One high level won't hurt you, but a very low sugar level can.
Of course, if you're unconscious or too confused or are having seizures, those around you will need to take control. Your family and friends should know how to do the following:
- If you lose consciousness, they should call 911 immediately.
- They may need to inject you with glucagon, an insulin antidote. If you are prone to low blood sugar, ask your doctor if you should have glucagon on hand at home.
- If you're alert enough to follow instructions, they should give you sweet juice to drink. If your symptoms don't steadily improve over the next hour, they should call 911.
How to Prevent an Insulin Overdose
You can avoid an insulin overdose if you do the following:
- Keep a consistent schedule.
- Eat something at every mealtime. Even if you're not hungry, have some bread, a glass of skim milk, or a small serving of fruit. Never skip meals when you've taken insulin.
- Be prepared. Expect that you'll have insulin complications at some point. Pack hard candies in your bag and your spouse's. Keep some in the car and in your travel bag, too.
- Make sure friends and family know your usual signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia so they can take action if your low blood sugar levels make you confused.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet that says you use insulin.
Other Insulin Complications
Most other insulin complications are due to not taking enough insulin. Not enough insulin can result in extremely high blood sugars, causing one of two urgent medical conditions:
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Without enough insulin to allow sugar absorption, the body's cells act as if they are starving and will use other less efficient sources of energy, which leads to the dangerous buildup of acids.
Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS). Blood sugars can reach greater than 600 in HHNS. HHNS causes profound dehydration and can be life-threatening.
Once they happen, these complications may require hospitalization for treatment.