First Aid Diabetes


A disease causing an inability to regulate the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood

Hypoglycemia (Insulin Shock)

Hypoglycemia is a diabetic condition where the body has an insufficient amount of blood sugar. It presents suddenly and should always be considered an emergency.


  • Lack of food (low glucose)
  • Excessive exercise
  • Too much insulin


The hypoglycemic victim will present with the following symptoms and may appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It can also be confused with stroke or cardiac disorders.

  • Pale, cool, clammy
  • Dizziness, weakness
  • Hunger
  • Confusion (like being drunk)
  • Strong, rapid pulse (May be normal in some patients)
  • Seizures


As with all first aid situations, the priority is to protect yourself, put on protective gloves before approaching the victim.

If possible, have the victim test the glucose level to correctly identify Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia.
When hypoglycemia is suspected, notify EMS immediately.
Treat the victim for shock and monitor their vital signs, including blood sugar readings (if possible). If the patient is conscious and able to swallow, administer any form of glucose (candy juice, soda..). Don’t give glucose to an unconscious victim as it can easily become an airway obstruction. Some victims carry with them glucagon injections as a rapid treatment for severe insulin shock. The victim should know how to administer it, and should administer it himself.


Hyperglycemia is a condition in which the body’s blood sugar level is too high to maintain. This condition presents less commonly than hypoglycemia and usually occurs very slowly,over the course of several days in anyone who consumes too much sugar. While the mild form can be harmless, aside from a general feeling of malaise, hyperglycemia in a diabetic is a serious, potentially life threatening situation that requires prompt treatment. Left untreated it might lead to a coma or death.

Regardless of the cause of a suspected case of hyperglycemia, the immediate priority for the first responder is recognizing and treating hyperglycemia. The symptoms of a case are;

  • Flush/redness of skin
  • Fruity breath (sign of diabetic ketoacidosis)
  • Deep or rapid respirations
  • Dehydration/extreme thirst/excessive urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weakness/dizziness
  • Weak, rapid pulse

Prompt treatment can prevent further complications and serious emergencies. EMS should be called immediately.

Every victim should be treated for shock and have their vital signs monitored constantly.

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