SIGNS OF DIABETES:
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WHEN THINGS GO WRONG

For a number of sailors, living with diabetes is a daily reality. People who have diabetes know they do and usually can manage it well. However, sometimes, things can go wrong. When blood sugars get out of balance, one of 2 conditions can occur:

  • hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)   or
  • hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)

It is important to recognize these signs of diabetes. Both need to be treated immediately.


HYPOGLYCEMIA (Low Blood Sugar)

Hypoglycemia can develop rapidly, resulting from stress, taking too much insulin, skipping a meal or consuming alcohol.

Signs of Hypoglycemia

  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • excessive sweating
  • pale, cold, moist skin
  • headache
  • poor coordination or uncontrolled trembling
  • seizures

Treatment

Give the victim any food or drink that is high in sugar. Examples would be fruit juice, candy bars, pop or soda, or water containing several spoonfuls of dissolved sugar. If the victim is unconscious, place sugar directly under the tongue.


HYPERGLYCEMIA (High Blood Sugar)

Hyperglycemia comes on much slower. It results from insufficient insulin resulting in steadily increasing blood sugar levels. Untreated, it can result in a diabetic coma.

Signs of Hyperglycemia

  • excessive thirst
  • excessive hunger
  • frequent urination
  • dry mouth
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Treatment

Administer insulin or other medication that has been prescribed.

This is where it is important to know of any medical problems that someone on board could face and where required medications are kept.

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