Diabetic Shock

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Shock

by SarahD on August 20, 2010 in Diabetes

Whether you have been diagnosed with diabetes or not, a bout with diabetic shock is sure to seal the deal. But the signs and symptoms of such an occurrence are easy to confuse with other ailments, disorders, and affectations.  The difference is in the precursors.

Diabetic shock, also known as hypoglycemia, is brought on because of a severe drop in blood sugar that is most commonly caused by not eating, over-exercising, or consuming alcohol (or a combination thereof).

In each case, the blood sugar level drops dramatically, leading to several diabetes symptoms that, unchecked, can lead to coma, seizure, and even death.  Here are a few signs to look for if you think that you or someone you know may be experiencing diabetic shock.

Visible signs

The most recognizablesigns that something is wrong are physical.  Cold, clammy hands and sweating (together or as lone symptoms) are a good indicator that your body is out of whack.  If you already know you are diabetic, you will want to correct the situation immediately by ingesting sugar.  Juice, candy, and regular soda are all good choices.

While these signs alone are not necessarily indicative of hypoglycemia in a person who has not been diagnosed with diabetes, they certainly indicate that something is wrong with your body, so you may want to get checked out by a doctor.

Other physical indicators

Another physical indication of diabetic shock is a rapid heartbeat, so if you notice the aforementioned symptoms, you may want to take your pulse to confirm the condition.  Blurred vision and light-headedness are also a cause for concern.  If any of these medical symptoms occur, sit down immediately and call for help.


Unusual weakness, tiredness, and a desire to sleep are also indicators of hypoglycemia, especially in conjunction with other symptoms.  However, allowing a person in diabetic shock to sleep could lead to a comatose state.  Therefore, it is best to keep the victim awake until they can be examined by a medical professional.


If you notice confused or drunken behavior when there is no indication of drinking, it is a good sign that the person has entered into diabetic shock.  This could be as mild as an inability to concentrate on a conversation or as severe as slurred speech or the failure to recall personal data.  Either way, these symptoms are a sure sign that something is very wrong.

Change in attitude

A person who has entered into diabetic shock may become argumentative, combative, aggressive, or even violent due to the symptoms they are suffering.  If they are generally docile or easy-going, this is a definite cause for concern.

If you think that a person is suffering from hypoglycemia, there are a couple of steps you can and should take immediately.  First of all, DO NOT administer insulin, as this is a hormone that allows the body to burn sugar and will deplete it even faster, exacerbating the condition.  Instead, give them anything that contains sugar, from juice to fruit to candy.  Then, depending on their reaction, you will either need to contact their primary physician or take them to an emergency medical facility as quickly as possible to prevent further harm.

Sarah Danielson is a writer for Nursing Scholarships where you can find jobs, scholarships, and nursing career descriptions.